Fair-as-Foodway: Culinary Worlds and Modernizing Tastes at Chicago’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition

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Abstract

The 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago from May to October, hosted 27 million people who experienced the encyclopedic world of the past, present, and imagined future on display in the space of a single site. The restaurants and food-related exhibits of the fair introduced new modes of consumption, while literally sustaining tourists and workers alike. Individual consumption at the Chicago Fair would have been mediated by a person’s ethnicity, class, race, and gender, as well as emerging access to increasingly industrialized, urban food systems. Historical, archival, and archaeological research at Chicago’s Jackson Park, the former site of the fair, reveal some of the most pervasive legacies of these foodways.

Keywords

world’s fairs industrial foodways consumption ethnicity 

Extracto

La Exposición Universal de Chicago, también conocida como Exposición Mundial Colombina, celebrada entre mayo y octubre de 1893, fue visitada por 27 millones de personas, que se sumergieron en el mundo enciclopédico del pasado, el presente y el futuro imaginado a través de las exposiciones presentes en el espacio de su única ubicación. Los restaurantes y las exposiciones relacionadas con alimentos de la feria introdujeron nuevos modos de consumo, al tiempo que literalmente alimentaban a turistas y trabajadores por igual. El consumo personal en la Feria de Chicago podría haberse deducido a partir del origen étnico, la clase, la raza y el sexo de una persona, así como por el acceso emergente a unos sistemas de alimentación urbanos cada vez más industrializados. Los estudios históricos, archivísticos y arqueológicos llevados a cabo en el Jackson Park de Chicago, enclave original del evento, revelan algunos de los legados más esclarecedores de estas costumbres gastronómicas.

Résumé

L’exposition universelle colombienne, qui a eu lieu à Chicago de mai à octobre 1893, a accueilli 27 millions de personnes qui ont fait l’expérience du monde encyclopédique du passé, du présent et de l’avenir imaginaire tel que présenté dans le confinement d’un site unique. Les restaurants et les expositions axées sur la nourriture ont introduit de nouveaux modes de consommation, tout en alimentant les touristes et les travailleurs. Durant la foire de Chicago, la consommation individuelle aurait été influencée par l’ethnicité, la classe, la race et le sexe d’une personne, ainsi que par l’accès naissant à des systèmes alimentaires urbains de plus en plus industrialisés. Les recherches historiques, d’archives et archéologiques réalisées à Jackson Park, le site de la foire de Chicago, révèlent quelques-uns des héritages les plus omniprésents de ces modes d’alimentation.

Notes

Acknowledgments:

The authors would like to thank the volunteers who helped with the 2007 Jackson Park Archaeological Survey and the 2008 Jackson Park Archaeological Project and field school. University of Chicago’s Lichtstern Travel Grants supported participation at the Contemporary and Historical Archaeology in Theory (CHAT) Conference at Boston University (2011) and the Society for Historical Archaeology’s 2013 conference in Leicester, where we presented earlier versions of this paper. Research was supported in part by an American Midwest Foodways Scholar’s Grant from the Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance and the Culinary Historians of Chicago. Lake Forest College’s Digital Chicago Grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded the image reproductions. We thank Paul Mullins for his keen insights on and critiques of earlier versions of this paper, and the anonymous reviewers whose work helped us make the arguments in this article cohere. Graff wishes to thank Ryan J. Cook for his comments on an earlier version of this piece. Edwards wishes to thank Anthony K. Alvarez for serving as a sounding board in working out the themes explored in this article.

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Copyright information

© Society for Historical Archaeology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyLake Forest CollegeLake ForestU.S.A.
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of ChicagoChicagoU.S.A.

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