New Books on Cereals and Bread

In 'The Great American Cereal Book' Topher Ellis and Marty Gitlin go on an encyclopedic nostalgia trip, and Aaron Bobrow-Strain asks how white bread became white trash.

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Marty Gitlin and Topher Ellis, The Great American Cereal Book, Abrams 2011.

I love cereal boxes, especially ones with egregious health claims, and I have a small collection dating back 10 years or so. I also, courtesy of Kellogg, have facsimiles of the complete set of Rice Krispies, All-Bran, and Froot Loops, dating back to the first year they were produced. So I'm delighted to find this history of U.S. breakfast cereals, organized alphabetically by era starting in the 1860s, illustrated with pictures of each. A encyclopedic nostalgia trip!

Aaron Bobrow-Strain, White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf, Beacon Press, 2012.

Bobrow-Strain organizes this books by dream categories: dreams of purity and contagion, control and abundance, health and discipline, strength and defense, peace and security, resistance and status. White bread does all this? Indeed it does in this story of how "white bread became white trash." He begins by asking, "Is this stuff even food?" He ends with the whole wheat phenomenon and "yuppie bread." This is entertaining history and an example of food studies in action: using food to talk about important issues in history and contemporary society.

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This post originally appeared on Food Politics, an Atlantic partner site.

Presented by

Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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