FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000

From Superhighways to Supermarkets

Interstate highway construction began in 1956 and almost immediately transformed the American food distribution system. More extensive than railroads, this new transportation network connected cities and spanned rural areas, offering an efficient infrastructure for delivering food. It also allowed food manufacturers and processors to expand their operations on cheaper land farther away from cities. As more supermarkets were built to meet the needs of a growing population, interstate trucking became a critical means of delivering fresh and frozen foods to markets year-round.

Levittown, 1949

Levittown, 1949

William Levitt’s development on Long Island was one of the first planned suburban communities built after World War II.

Courtesy of Bettmann/Corbis

Truckers, about 1955

Truckers, about 1955

After World War II the use of mechanically cooled refrigerated trucks grew along with the expansion of the frozen-food industry.

Courtesy of Publix Super Markets, Inc.