Admitting to eating a bowl of cereal for dinner is like disclosing that you are lonely, lazy, or waaay to busy. Similarly, not having the whole family sitting around the table for a hot dinner of protein, a vegetable, and dessert feels like some kind of failure. When did how and what we eat become codified as right, proper, and essentially American? How did factory work, television and advertising shape the varied diets carried by centuries of immigrants into the breakfast, lunch and dinner most of us eat today?
Abigail Carroll is a food historian and author of Three Squares: The Invention of the American Meal, which explores the history of America’s eating from the Colonial era to the present.