American Food by the Decades

by Sherri Liberman, Editor


New York–style pizza and Caesar salad. Denny's and Dunkin Donuts. Kool-Aid and Cheez Whiz. From Betty Crocker to Julia Child. Throughout history, America is often regarded as a place where tradition takes a backseat to innovation and inspiration, and you can find ample proof of this in its unique culinary inventions and institutions.

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Cover image for American Food by the Decades

August 2011


Pages 240
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics American History/Culture

A fascinating survey of American food trends that highlights the key inventions, brands, restaurant chains, and individuals that shaped the American diet and palate in the 20th century.

In the United States today, how and what we eat—with all of its myriad ethnic varieties and endless choices—is firmly entrenched in every part of our culture. The American diet underwent constant evolution throughout the 20th century, starting from the meat-and-potatoes fare of the early-20th century and maturing into a culture that embraced the cuisines of immigrant populations, fast-food chains, health fads, and emerging gourmet tastes. Societal changes moved women out of the kitchen and into the workforce, spawning the invention of convenience foods and time-saving kitchen appliances.

American Food by the Decades is an entertaining chronological survey of food trends in the United States during the 20th century. The book is organized by decades to illustrate how changes in society directly influenced dietary and dining habits as they emerged over the last 100 years. Detailed encyclopedic entries provide fascinating glimpses into history by telling the true stories behind the foods, restaurants, grocery stores, and cooking trends of the previous century.


  • Over 250 encyclopedic entries on the most prominent influences in American food during the 20th century
  • Contains 10 recipes, each emblematic of a particular decade
  • Over 15 sidebars with additional feature information
  • Chronologically presents popular foods of the 20th century in the United States, with each of the ten chapters representing a decade
  • Each chapter provides a "For Further Exploration" bibliography section


  • Covers a century of historical food trends that will benefit culinary historians and engage general audiences
  • Includes related information such as brand histories, biographies of prominent chefs and restaurateurs, and innovations in kitchen technology
  • Encyclopedic entries provide fascinating facts and stories behind America's most popular names in food
Author Info

Sherri Liberman is librarian for the New York Public Library. Her published works include A Historical Atlas of Azerbaijian and A Historical Atlas of the Industrial Age and the Growth of America's Cities.



"This book provides a good overview of twentieth-century food in the U.S. . . . American Food by the Decades is suitable for circulating collections or for reference collections in school and small public libraries."Booklist

" . . . this title would be a useful addition to a high school library where a brief overview of the topic may be all that is needed. Summing Up: Recommended."Choice

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