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Putting Meat on the American Table: Taste, Technology, Transformation Paperback – November 16, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1 edition (November 16, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801882419
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801882418
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #466,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


A lively study which will also earn a place on the college bookshelf for its scholarly side.

(Diane Donovan California Bookwatch)

The best book on the subject I've seen since I read The Jungle.

(John Goodspeed Easton Star Democrat)

A compact, clearly written volume.

(Timothy B. Spears Business History Review)

For anyone interested in the food production or consumption, this book is indispensable.

(Gabriella M. Petrick Enterprise and Society)

An unusually engaging piece of scholarship and a fascinating introduction to the topic.

(Mark R. Finlay History: Reviews of New Books)

A story superbly told with wisdom and wit, richly written and beautifully illustrated with early photographs and print advertisements.

(Donald D. Stull Register of the Kentucky Historical Society)

Horowitz covers a broad swath of food history in a short and accessible book.

(Deborah Fink American Historical Review)

It is not a particularly pretty story, but it is one that Horowitz tells well.

(Harvey Levenstein Journal of American History)

An important work of historical scholarship.

(Andrew P. Haley Southern Quarterly)

Horowitz's study is a solid, well-researched, and nuanced piece of work.

(Coll Thrush Food, Culture, and Society)

A vitally important contribution... Should be read by anyone interested in food, technology, consumption, and American history in general.

(Steve Striffler Agricultural History)

An intriguing overview of the culture and processes of producing and consuming meat in America. The author addresses the rituals, technology, business, labor, selling, and innovations that have enabled Americans to enjoy their chickens, steaks, and hot dogs. An interesting course book for foodways scholars, business and labor historians, historians of technology, and students of material culture.

(Susan R. Williams, Fitchburg State College)

Horowitz has provided an important, unique, and splendidly written introduction to the history of meat production, distribution, and consumption in America. Scholars and students alike will benefit from the book's valuable background information, and from its skillful illustration of how industries evolve.

(Warren Belasco, author of Appetite for Change)

About the Author

Roger Horowitz is associate director of the Center for the History of Business, Technology, and Society at the Hagley Museum and Library, Greenville, Delaware.

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
American wasn't born a meat-eating nation: it evolved from colonial to modern times and was as much influenced by technological developments and processing and production advancements as by consumer tastes or meat availability. PUTTING MEAT ON THE AMERICAN TABLE: TASTE, TECHNOLOGY, TRANSFORMATION is a lively study which will also earn a place on the college bookshelf for its scholarly side in examining how new technologies have advanced American meat. Using consumption surveys, chapters provide lively insights into evolving American eating habits.

Diane C. Donovan, Editor

California Bookwatch
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Julia Lupton on July 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
Great chapter on chicken. Horowitz tells the story of chicken's transformation from one of several types of poultry into a "meat" worthy of competing for American dinner table and lunch time space with beef and pork. By the early 1960's, the chicken war was making modest gains. Thanks to hybridization, the chicken was meatier, tastier, and cheaper. And through new processing protocols, (such as removing heads, feet, and entrails), it had become more attractive and convenient in grocery stores. Yet market researchers kept encountering a certain malaise as they surveyed consumers about why chicken remained in third place. They called this new disorder "chicken fatigue." You see, in the 1960s, chicken -- even the new, better, bigger chicken -- was always ... chicken. In 1962, more than 90% of chickens were sold whole: too much for a couple, marketers learned, but not enough for a large family. Pork and beef, on the other hand, came in many cuts as well as pre-cooked forms (bologna, dogs, pork rinds).

Chicken got into first place thanks to the processing strategies of Tyson (who brought us nuggets) and the branding strategies of Perdue (who revolutionized cut up and boned chickens, processed, dated, and priced right in the plant). "Product differentiation" broke the monotony, and chicken became king on American menus.

The book is both lively and learned. A great read for anyone interested in the social history and technology of food.
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