FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000

Snack Engineering (page 1)

Manufacturers offered a wider range of ready-to-eat snack foods, introducing new flavors for chips and other treats, while creating novel shapes and textures for easy consumption. In response to calorie-conscious consumers, scientists developed formulas for reducing fat, salt, and sugar in many favorite snack foods and beverages.

Newfangled Chips

In the mid-1960s, researchers working for Procter & Gamble mixed dehydrated potatoes with flour and water to create a product that would outlast conventional chips. The result, Pringles, was a chip formulated for a long shelf-life that was also uniform in size, texture, and shape.

Pringles can, late 1960s

Pringles can, late 1960s

Factory-formed Pringles chips could be stacked in tall cardboard cans and shipped with minimal breakage. The can saved shelf space in stores and helped the product stand apart from its competitors.

Patent drawing, Pringles can, 1966

Patent drawing, Pringles can, 1966

Formulated flavors, about 2000

Formulated flavors, about 2000

Pringles are manufactured in over 100 flavors, from cheeseburger to seaweed, targeting consumers worldwide. 

Courtesy of Corbis

Sugar Free!

In the 1960s producers of carbonated soft drinks became major users of artificial sweeteners. Nutritionists voiced doubts about the ability of artificially sweetened diet drinks to lead to significant weight loss or even calorie reduction, but drinks marketed as “diet” remained popular.

Diet soda cans, about 1970

Diet soda cans, about 1970

Gift of Can Manufacturers Institute through Dudley-Anderson-Yutzy

Ad, 1974

Ad, 1974

Like other producers of low-calorie beverages, Diet Rite depicted svelte women in its ads. Production of diet soda increased in the 1970s and by 2000 accounted for nearly a third of all soft drinks produced in the U.S.