History of Chicago Series: Chicago Shapes the American Diet, Part 1-American Foodways and Chicago's Dairy Industry

Join Dr. Chris Stacey for Part 1 of a three part series on an exploration into how Chicago shaped what is colloquially called “the American Diet.” Food is never simply about eating something put in front of us but has always been embedded in a complicated matrix of power relations. In this presentation we’ll start with a discussion about the cultural and quotidian importance of foodways as a signifier of identity and of difference. We’ll discuss at the experiences of Korean military brides and other ethnic immigrants to Chicago as they sought to balance traditional foodways with demands to make “American food” for their families. We’ll use the concept of foodways to interrogate historical outcomes starting with a history of  “Chicago’s Diary District.” Chicago was and is home to some of the largest diary companies in the nation: Dean Evaporated Milk Company, Beatrice Creamery, Borden, Helvetia Milk Condensing Company, and Kraft Brothers. This presentation illustrates how these dairy companies altered the nation’s culinary landscape with the invention of foods such as Velveeta, Miracle Whip, macaroni and cheese dinner, and processed cheese. Chicago’s innovative diary companies created many recognizable foods of the “American Diet” still consumed in households today. We’ll also look at the economic and culinary consequences of mergers and acquisitions on Chicago’s diary corporations. The other two presentations in this series are: May 25: Chicago Shapes the American Diet, Part 2: Sugar and Nov 30: Chicago Shapes the American Diet, Part 3: Meat.

Date: Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Time: 6:30 p.m. Central Standard Time

Cost: Free

2022 History of Chicago Series

Jan 26: History of Chicago Series. The Black Panthers and the Murder of Fred Hampton.

Feb 23: Boycott 63: Freedom Day and the Chicago School Boycotts in Honor of Black History Month, 1963-1964

Mar 30: Chicago Shapes the American Diet, Part 1: The Significance of Chicago on American Foodways and a History of Chicago’s Dairy Industry

April 27: Puerto Rican Immigration and the Division Street Riots, 1946-1966

May 25: The Rise of Chicago Blues and R & B: Vee-Jay, Chess Records, and the City’s Musical Pioneers, 1947-1960

June 29: Korean Immigration: Struggles and Social Influences, 1948-1992

July 27: Chicago Shapes the American Diet, Part 2: Sugar

Aug 31: Chicago Gospel Music, Part 3: Rise to World Prominence, 1950s-1960s

Sept 28: Chicago Transportation, Part 2: Cable Car City and Elevated Trains, 1882-1924

Nov 30: Chicago Shapes the American Diet, Part 3: Meat

Dec 28: Religion in Chicago, Part 1: World's Parliament of Religions of 1893

March 30, 2022 at 6:30pm - 9pm

Zoom Video Conference


Chris Stacey

Will you come?