Presented by

Congregation Rodeph Shalom + Congregation B’nai Jeshurun

Congregation Rodeph Shalom and Congregation B’nai Jeshurun are proud to partner to present a selection of lectures from One Day University. One Day University works with hundreds of professors from over 200 of the country’s best colleges to develop fascinating talks designed to educate, entertain and inspire. Join us to learn more about the culinary history of the US. This presentation will be followed by a live Q&A with Professor Pietrobon!

A Culinary History of the United States

Allen Pietrobon / Trinity Washington University

Over the course of the past century, the United States went from being revered for having one of the best food cultures in the world — a cuisine so deliciously unique that in the early 1900s, wealthy Europeans would travel to America for vacation simply to enjoy the splendid food — to today being (however unfairly) the subject of international ridicule for having a food culture dominated by junk foods, fast foods, and processed frozen meals. String cheese and SPAM anyone?


In this presentation, we’ll reserve a table with award-winning professor Allen Pietrobon as we eat our way (intellectually, of course,) through a culinary history of the United States. We’ll sample the world-famous American restaurants of the 1890s, then trudge through the Great Depression to see how it affected American cuisine. We’ll see how World War Two radically changed American eating habits and then we’ll push a wonky-wheeled shopping cart through the 1950s “dark ages” of American cuisine, with its cavernous supermarkets peddling frozen TV dinners and Jell-o salads. We’ll explore the major “innovations” of processed food manufacturers as they introduced new products to dominate the American kitchen table. Ultimately, we’ll see that what Americans were eating over the decades had a major impact on American society, culture, and family time. The saying is “you are what you eat.” Can what we eat teach us about who we are as a nation?

Learn More About the History of American Cuisine

If you’re looking to broaden your horizon American cuisine history, make sure to check out our other culinary lectures such as Drive Thru America and The Spice Trade. Access to all recorded online lectures comes standard with our membership, click here to learn more.

Learn more and discover other great videos at OneDayU, including The Five Most Powerful People In The World, ‘Unexplained History’ & ‘The Legacy Of Frederick Douglass’ all on-demand now.

Dr. Allen Pietrobon is an Assistant Professor of Global Affairs at Trinity Washington University. He specializes in 20th-Century American history and U.S. Foreign Policy, focusing on nuclear weapons policies and Cold War diplomacy. Since 2011, he has also served as an Assistant Director of Research at the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University.

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