FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000

Supermarkets as Symbols

During the 1950s, as the United States waged a cold war against Soviet communism, supermarkets became symbols of the superior living standards made possible by the American capitalist system.

Showcasing food abroad, 1958

Showcasing food abroad, 1958

The U.S. Information Agency used the abundance of supermarket food to represent the benefits of the “American way of life.”

Courtesy of National Archives

Showcasing food at home, 1959

Showcasing food at home, 1959

Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev surveys a Safeway supermarket in San Francisco.

Courtesy of AP Images

 

Packaging designers, about 1960

Packaging designers, about 1960

With the rise in Americans’ purchasing power after the war and the increase in market competition, companies devoted more time, money, and resources to researching and designing packages to sell.

NMAH Archives Center AC0500-0000075