Smithsonian museums continue to be closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Read a message from our director, and check our website and social media for updates.
FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000

New and Improved!

Detail of baby carrot processing


Americans were greeted by claims of “New and Improved!” on more and more foods and consumer goods during the second half of the 20th century. Scientific approaches to farming and manufacturing brought higher yields and an abundant, affordable food supply. New appliances in the home that demanded greater energy consumption symbolized a prosperous, postwar American way of life for many. Optimistic attitudes about “progress” and “better living” continued throughout the century, even as many raised questions about the long-term effects of mass production and consumerism, especially on the environment, health, and workers.