Kitchen Cache: The Hidden Meaning of Gender and Cooking in Twentieth-Century American Kitchens

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Stella Jean Pierce (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Sheila Phipps

Abstract: For many centuries, women have been the designated cooks of domestic America. They have been the creators and sustainers of the American diet. But as the restaurant industry became a large force in the twentieth-century economy, the task of cooking was usurped by men in the public sphere. Socio-cultural and legal forces discouraged women from entering into a field that was traditionally familiar to them, while men were granted professional training and entrepreneurial freedom to take advantage of an expanding market. This resulted in male-dominated restaurant kitchens in America during the twentieth-century, while women remained the primary cooks in the home. The investigation revealed that the gender behaviors that were cemented during the Victorian era carried over into the twentieth-century, establishing ideal patterns of behavior, as well as food tastes and preferences for men and women. While women entered the workforce in record numbers, only men were provided technical training in the culinary field, and men who cooked were continually reassured of their masculinity through media and prescriptive literature. Whether professional cook or not, men endeavored to disassociate themselves from the cooking performed by women, and gender-food associations helped pigeonhole women in the culinary field to less prominent positions.

Additional Information

Pierce, S.J. (2010). Kitchen Cache: The Hidden Meaning of Gender and Cooking in Twentieth-Century American Kitchens. Unpublished master’s thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2010
Gender Studies, Food History, Cooking, Kitchens

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