The “Kitchen Debate” Revisited: Abundance and Anti-domesticity in Cold War America

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Abstract

This article examines two conflicting perspectives on home cooking in Cold War America. The 1959 American National Exhibition in Moscow featured a vocal exchange between Richard Nixon and his Soviet rival Nikita Khruschev, during a tour of a model American home. This “Kitchen Debate,” positioned American food and cooking as part of an outpouring of consumerism, demonstrating capitalist superiority by providing for the conveniences and comforts of housewives. In contrast, humorist Peg Bracken’s 1960 I Hate to Cook Book argued that American women could pursue a lifestyle and self-identity that didn’t focus on daily meals or culinary panache. Although her recipes (relying on mixes and canned ingredients) were similar to other popular cookbook authors and relied on the same products showcased at the Moscow exhibition, Bracken differed from mainstream food writers and political ideologues, insisting that cooking was a tedious chore that should be side-stepped whenever possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGlobal Food History
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • History

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