FOOD: Transforming the American Table

New in Your Shopping Aisle

While many migrant entrepreneurs opened specialty grocery stores that served local migrant communities, a few launched packaged food companies that aimed to capture a wider market. They produced foods on an industrial scale and distributed them to supermarket chains. In the process, they helped introduce people to new tastes and flavors—foods that are now widely available and enjoyed.

Cookbook, late 1970s

Cookbook, late 1970s

Courtesy of Goya Foods, Inc., and Goya Foods, Inc., Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History

 

In the late 1970s, this Goya cookbook helped introduce Americans to Caribbean-inspired flavors and cooking techniques with recipes they could make using the company’s canned and prepared foods.

Prudencio Unanue was born in Spain and migrated to Puerto Rico. He later migrated to New York, around 1917, where he started what would become Goya Foods. By the 1960s, the company was the primary source of Caribbean and Latino foods for those communities in and around New York City. In subsequent decades, Goya expanded its capacity and began supplying mainstream grocery stores where consumers could find new-to-them spices, beans, juices, and frozen foods.

Ripe plantains packaging, late 1970s

Ripe plantains packaging, late 1970s

Courtesy of Goya Foods, Inc., and Goya Foods, Inc., Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History

In-store promotion of Goya Foods products, 1980s

In-store promotion of Goya Foods products, 1980s

Courtesy of Goya Foods, Inc., Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Canned goods

Courtesy of Goya Foods, Inc., and Goya Foods, Inc., Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History

View object record

Canned goods

Courtesy of Goya Foods, Inc., and Goya Foods, Inc., Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History

View object record

Canned goods

Courtesy of Goya Foods, Inc., and Goya Foods, Inc., Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History

View object record

Percy Wallace Loy and Robert Wong, second-generation Chinese Americans, established Kubla Khan Frozen Food Company in Portland, Oregon, in 1950. The company produced prepacked food for sale in mainstream grocery stores. Using industrial sized woks, bowl-shaped frying pans, they combined Chinese cooking techniques with the latest frozen food technologies. The company relied on in-store demonstrations and tastings to promote their products like chop suey and chicken chow mein.

Combination dinner packaging, around 1960s

Combination dinner packaging, around 1960s

Courtesy of Kubla Khan Frozen Food Company Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History

In 1950, Kubla Khan Frozen Food Company was one of the first Asian-owned companies to produce prepared foods rooted in Chinese culinary traditions for mass consumption in the United States.

Women working in Kubla Khan Frozen Food Company factory, 1965

Women working in Kubla Khan Frozen Food Company factory, 1965

Courtesy of Kubla Khan Frozen Food Company Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History

In-store promotion of Kubla Khan Frozen Food Company products, 1960

In-store promotion of Kubla Khan Frozen Food Company products, 1960

Courtesy of Kubla Khan Frozen Food Company Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History