The Food Sputnik Inspired

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Space archaeologist Alice Gorman posted a fascinating article about the foods inspired by Sputnik, the Russian satellite widely credited with accelerating the space race. There were Sputnik hamburgers, Sputnik cocktails, and Sputnik finger foods. Making and eating them were a way to Americanize the accomplishment, Forman argues, making the Russian challenge seem less scary and foreign. This genre-bending post is part of GOOD Magazine's Nicola Twilley's new experiment in food journalism, which you can read all about.

The caption from this newspaper photograph reads: "Not to be outdone - Harriet Phydros samples a Sputnikburger which an Atlanta café rushed onto the menu. It's garnished with Russian dressing and caviar, topped by satellite olive and cocktail hotdog". The hot dog is a reference to Laika the dog, who went into orbit in Sputnik 2 later in 1957. Despite Laika's sad demise, the visual word play is appealing; but the "not to be outdone" requires further unpacking. Does this imply that Harriet's imminent consumption of the Sputnikburger will somehow restore the balance of power? Or that eating it is a small conquest of space in its own right? In any case, this potential weapon of mass destruction has become a commodity rather than a beacon of communist ideology. According to Lisa Parks, 'mainstream American culture commodified and domesticated Sputnik, positioning it within the discourse of American nationalism rather then leaving it to circle the earth on its own accord" (Parks 1995:16).

Read the full story at Space Age Archaeology.


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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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