What's Cookin'? Two Centuries of American Foodways

A & P Super Market
A and P Super Market at Lexington and University in St. Paul, ca. 1941. Photo by Larry Schreiber. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society. 
Developed by the Rogers Historical Museum, Rogers, Arkansas 

September 27 - November 8, 2002

The Esther Thomas Atkinson Museum of Hampden-Sydney College is proud to present "What's Cookin'? Two centuries of American Foodways", a traveling exhibition organized by the Rogers Historical Museum, Rogers Arkansas, and supported in part by a grant from the Historical Resources and Museum Services section of Arkansas State Parks. The exhibition will open on Friday, September 27, 2002 and continue through November 8, 2002, and offers an intriguing look at many aspects of food and food culture. 

The English writer Samuel Johnson described man as a "Cooking Animal." For most of us, food is more than fuel for our bodies. What we choose to eat depends upon our family traditions, ethnic heritage, and regional customs. Whom we choose to eat with defines our circle of family and friends. "What's Cookin'?: Two centuries of American Foodways" will discuss these, and many other food-related issues. 

At least one author on foodways has noted, animals eat while humans dine. People express many aspects of their culture through the foods they eat, as well as how they prepare and serve those foods. Portions of the exhibit explore such topics as the impact of immigration on food history, how technology has changed the availability of food, food preparation at home, the increase in dining out, and the changing images of what constitutes healthy eating. 

Family members gather for a picnic
Family members gather for a picnic at the J.H. Moore home, Cane Hill, Arkansas, circa 1910. Courtesy of martha Moore & the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History, Springdale, Arkansas. 
Illustrating these topics are photographs, documents, and such actual artifacts as a turn-of-the-20th-century ice cream mold, a fruit jar wrench patented in 1903, an early 20th century silver-plated oyster fork, a 1940's cornmeal bag, and several food advertisements. 

The exhibition includes two hands-on activities. Visitors can examine several "gadgets of yesteryear" and try to figure out what they were used for. There are also a number of recipe pages from cookbooks; visitors can use clues in the recipes to determine in what year the cookbook may have been published. 

The Esther Thomas Atkinson Museum is located on College Road, Hampden-Sydney, Virginia, and is accessible to the handicapped. Hours: Monday - Friday, 12:30p.m. - 4:30p.m., and other times by appointment. For more information, please contact Lorie Mastemaker at 434-223-6134.