Thesis ID: CBB291109157

Inventing Texture: Food Science and Culinary Culture in Postwar America (2023)


In the second half of the twentieth century, food scientists in North America and eventually across the globe focused their attention on the human sense of texture. Largely ignored by scientists before them, and seemingly without cultural precedent, corporate and public research scientists set out to define texture as a measurable phenomenon, to ascertain what was generally desirable to chew, and to operate this knowledge in service of the ongoing global industrialization of food production and retailing. Above all, texture was staked as the solution to overlapping crises in the global food system, promising the Global South abundant meat prepared cheaply from plants and offering a palatable alternative to excessive dietary fat in the Global North. Through an examination of their research methods, published ideas, and the new products that resulted, this dissertation explores the messy entanglement between food science and culinary culture. As scientists drew upon cultural intermediaries like home economists, marketers, and vegetarians to direct their research, so too did increasing scientific control over the physical features of processed foods shape broader cultural understandings about normative taste. While the desired outcomes for texture research have thus far resulted in spectacular market failure, this dissertation suggests how the core concepts of modern food science have succeeded nevertheless in becoming part of culinary discourse, offering a terminology and indeed a terrain for navigating contemporary global cultural exchanges.

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Authors & Contributors
Cozzi, Annette
Donnelly, Catherine
Friesen, T. Max
Helvoort, Ton van
Jas, Nathalie
Levi, Jane
History and Technology
Journal of Food Science
Technology and Culture
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
History and Anthropology
Palgrave Macmillan
Rowman & Littlefield
Stichting Historie der Techniek
University of Georgia Press
University of North Carolina Press
Technische Universiteit Eindhoven (The Netherlands)
Food and foods
Food science; food technology
Food industry and trade
Nutrition; dietetics
Food preservation
Cooking and cuisine
Dickens, Charles
Gaskell, Elizabeth
Hardy, Thomas
Time Periods
20th century, late
20th century, early
19th century
21st century
20th century
18th century
United States
Great Britain
Soviet Union
Smithsonian Institution
World Health Organization (WHO)
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

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