Title page for ETD etd-10082012-141849

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Whitfield, Kristi Renee
URN etd-10082012-141849
Title Canning Foods and Selling Modernity: The Canned Food Industry and Consumer Culture, 1898-1945
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Shindo, Charles Committee Chair
Isenberg, Nancy Committee Member
Lewis, Carolyn Committee Member
Constant, David Dean's Representative
Rice, Dan Dean's Representative
  • science culture
  • Good Housekeeping
  • food policy
  • botulism
  • consumer culture
  • canned food
Date of Defense 2012-10-01
Availability restricted
At the turn of the twentieth century, Americans feared commercially canned foods. From the Spanish American War until well into the 1920’s, canned foods received a barrage of media attacks and accusations of unhealthiness, lack of cleanliness, and a lack of transparency and regulation in processing. Moreover, as gastrointestinal distress was quite prevalent among American society, many Americans feared that it was commercial foods that were making them sick. By the time Americans were coming home from World War II, the climate of opinion concerning commercially canned foods had changed, and this was in large part due to the unyielding fight from commercial canners to refashion their own image and create a lasting consumer market for their products. At the same time, the story of canned foods’ rise from menace to staple of American diets is also a story of how science became embedded in American culture and how Americans became more trusting of experts and professionals. More than a history of an industry, this study attempts to place canned foods in a much larger discussion of the legitimizing power of science, the authority of experts, and American society’s attempts to deal with modernity and a rapidly changing world.
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