Monday, August 09, 2010

A history of junk food . . .

THE NEW YORK TIMES has an interesting article by Manny Fernandez, "Let Us Now Praise the Great Men of Junk Food". It's a history of munchies.

Ours is a nation that has given the world baseball, the airplane and the electric light, but also Kool-Aid (Edwin Perkins, 1927), Pizza Hut (the Carney brothers, 1958) and Doritos (Arch West, 1966).

The history of junk food is a largely American tale: It has been around for hundreds of years, in many parts of the world, but no one has done a better job inventing so many varieties of it, branding it, mass-producing it, making people rich off it and, of course, eating it.

The death of an obscure New York entrepreneur on July 27 — Morrie Yohai, 90, a World War II veteran who was the man responsible for Cheez Doodles — was a reminder that the world of junk food is no different from celebrated American industries. The pioneers behind the automobile and the personal computer are household names, and their ingenuity and a-ha moments have become part of the folklore of American entrepreneurship. But the back story of junk food and fast food has its own moments of genius, serendipity and clever adaptations.

“I look at it as an incredible phenomenon that’s changed America, for better and worse,” said Andrew F. Smith, the author of the Encyclopedia of Junk Food and Fast Food.

Soft drinks, ready-to-eat hamburgers, salty snacks, ice cream and candy all fall under his definitions of junk and fast food — products that have little or no nutritional value or are high in calories and fat, or both. Putting health questions aside, here, then, are a few great moments in junk-food history:


Two street vendor brothers — Frederick and Louis Rueckheim — sold a popcorn, molasses and peanuts confection at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. By 1896, they had perfected their recipe and called it Cracker Jack, and would soon repackage it for freshness and start advertising around the country. “They created a product that is commercially available nationally and salable,” said Mr. Smith, who considers Cracker Jack America’s first junk food.


Tootsie Rolls, manufactured in New York City starting in 1905, changed junk food with one simple touch, and it had nothing to do with the chewy chocolate taste. It was the first penny candy to be individually wrapped.

Cheezie joke:

A man walks into the doctors office for his appointment... when the doctor comes to see him, he asks, "Whats the problem?" The man pulls down his pants and and shows the doc that he has an orange dick... Amazed at what he sees, the doctor runs a series of tests and the results show that the man has no type of sickness. The doctor asks, "Do you work in a place that is exposed to any chemicals?" "No, I don't work" he says. The doc asks, "Then what do you do all day?" The man responds, "I sit at home, watch porno movies and eat cheezies."

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