Dissertation

From the archives of the Columbus Canning Company, Wisconsin Historical Society.

My dissertation explores the early history of the American food industry, by focusing on the development of the canning industry in the U.S. The complex relationships among food manufacturers, consumers, government agencies, and scientists that are a hallmark of today’s food industry have their roots at the turn of the twentieth century. Canned food was among the earliest food industries, and the central one offering a product previously unknown to American consumers. Largely because of this novelty, canners struggled to build trust among their customers and develop consumer confidence in their opaque products. In five chapters, this project follows this relationship between canners and consumers throughout the twentieth century, in order to understand how canners drew on technological development, agricultural science, bacteriology, government intervention, and advertising to build a strong consumer base.

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