31 Food Manufacturing Ads to Dull Your Thanksgiving Appetite

A trip into the daily lives of the people who brought you Pringles, Cheez Whiz, and TV dinners
The original Edible Arrangement eschewed the strawberries and pineapple for the salami, potato chips, and candy corn. (Journal of Food Technology)

I love food technology because it's such a strange combination of things: process engineering, flavor science, and things I ate yesterday. So, every Thanksgiving, I write a bunch of stories about how we breed larger turkeys, or why potato flakes exist, or the nature of cranberry jelly in a can. 

To do so, I end up leafing through trade magazines like Food Manufacture, Food Processing, Food Engineering, Food Technology, and the Journal of Food Technology. And when I do, I marvel at the advertisements, especially the ones from the 1960s through the 1980s, the heyday for this sort of trade lit.

The ads are simultaneously gross and fascinating. How do companies that make flavors or smells or deboning machines sell their services to each other? There's braggadocio and proto-Geico weirdness, jokes and puns, flattery and chemistry.

This is a trip into the day-to-day work concerns of the people who brought you Pringles, Cheez Whiz, Pop-Tarts, frozen juice in a can, TV dinners, boxed mac-n-cheese, and all the other stuff in the center aisles of the grocery store. These are the people Michael Pollan warned you about, or at least their ancestors. 

Anyway, enjoy: You have to check out the ads to really see what I'm talking about.

 

No, you know what, your new food idea is not great. That is just hamburger glued onto a cow bone.

Food Technology, February 1974

 

This is, roughly, the ideology of the American food industry. I mean, where else would an old-timey corn grinder and patriotism be used to sell Isomerose high-fructose corn syrup?

Food Technology, April 1982 

 

This is the crux of things. To processors and manufacturers, food is just another "process industry" like coal or non-ferrous metals. But food is different. It goes inside our bodies, repairs our bones, refreshes our blood. Import ideas from ore and minerals to food and you get the strangeness of processed foods.

Food Engineering, July 1967

 

But I can't lie to you: I've always wanted a high-speed encrusting unit. (Just think of the nuggets!) And one that comes attached to an extruder with many nozzles. What more could one guy ask for?

Food Processing, September 1987

 

This is why heirloom tomatoes happened: "CRYO-MAID freeze-dried tomato granule."

Food Technology, January 1974

 

"Institutional feeding" is not a pleasant combination of words.

Food Engineering, July 1967

 

I mean, dream a little. 

Food Engineering, July 1967

 

"..."

Journal of Food Technology, February 1976

 

The conceit of this advertisement is that your product is a man and that Miles Laboratories' citric acid is a woman, and they are getting married: "From the moment you match them up, you'll know that this is the acidulant to have and to hold from that day forward." 

Food Technology, January 1974

 

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