Harmoniously paired with chocolate, as American as baseball games and after-school snacks, and, when ground into a creamy paste, quite possibly the best thing to happen to sliced bread -- the peanut is one of the most versatile and beloved of American food icons. In this first culinary history of the protein-laden legume, Andrew F. Smith follows the peanut's rise from a lowly, messy snack food to its place in haute cuisine and on candy racks across the country.
Shunned by southern aristocrats and the northern elite in antebellum America, peanuts were originally considered ungenteel and only fit for slaves and the poor to eat. But as Americans grew more keen on the portable, filling, and inexpensive snack, peanuts became available at fairs, circuses, and theaters, whereupon street vendors first enticed consumers with offers for "Fresh, roasted peanuts " Unlike other food fads, peanuts thrived, and by the turn of the twentieth century they were big business.
Chronicling how peanut consumption and production changed throughout World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, and, more recently, as a result of corporate mergers and globalization, Smith highlights the peanut's role in the ways economic distress, wartime conditions, industrialization, and health trends reflect and inform our culinary landscape.
Along the way, Smith introduces readers to folks such as George Washington Carver, who paved the way for the peanut's popularity by promoting hundreds of uses for it, from peanut coffee to peanut flour. Smith also details the exploits of lesser-known peanut pioneers, such as John Harvey Kellogg, the early advocate of vegetarianism who extolled the virtues of peanut butter, and apair of Italian immigrant peanut vendors who built the Planters dynasty with help from a fortuitous advertising campaign featuring Mr. Peanut.
Chock-full of photographs, advertisements, and peanut recipes from as early as 1847, this entertaining and enlightening volume is a testament to the culinary potential and lasting popularity of the goober pea.
"McChesney explores what is unquestionably an ongoing assault on the reliability and independence of the media we count on to explain the world to us... He sees journalism as but an inseparable strand in an ever-more-tightly woven cloth of commerce. As such, he says, it is run according to the market-driven imperative of a capitalism: more profit with less risk... McChesney argues persuasively that whatever journalists' personal politics, the media's dominant ideology is pro-market and business class-biased and rests on the assumption that the news business works just fine... It takes a nonjournalist like McChesney to get the big picture." - Russ Baker, Los Angeles Times "[McChesney] takes the beast directly by the throat... [He] has gone to the heart of the matter... The best stuff in McChesney's book is not just how it happened but what the results are in terms of quality." - Molly Ivins, Star Telegram "A meticulously researched, relentlessly argued, wonderfully populist rallying cry for media reform - a welcome departure from the media criticism we have come to know." - Dustin Beilke, Salon Magazine "Tightly researched and extremely readable... An extraordinary resource for those who wish to begin the arduous journey toward remembering what it means to be a citizen in a functioning democracy." - Derrick Jensen, San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle "This is an important book that merited the overwhelming rush of orders received by its publisher upon the mere announcement of its impending appearance. Its central thesis - the incompatibility of boundless capitalism with the diversity of voices required to sustain a democratic society - is a bold challenge to the conventional wisdom that capitalism and democracy are mutually supportive... McChesney's arguments are persuasive and his evidence impressive." - Critical Studies in Media Communication "McChesney ... should be the first winner of the Dionne Warwick Prescience Award for the new millennium as the person best able to telepathically foretell the future on an important topic... He raise the ... dramatic specter of media capture by a few able to control the information upon which our democracy depends. And he wrote all this before AT&T moved in to foreclose Internet access on its lines, before the cable firms took over much of satellite, before Internet AOL and Time Warner combined." - The San Diego Union-Tribune "I highly recommend this book to anyone who is concerned with issues that define our society. It is not a light read, but a thought-provoking book that will stir one to look at issues like election reform, environmental protection, and health care in a new light." - Julie Johnson, Chicago Life "Essential reading for both concerned citizens and activists who want to understand the political economy of the media in the context of global capitalism." - Sheila Nopper, Illinois Times "McChesney joins Upton Sinclair, George Seldes, A.J. Liebling, Ben Bagdikian, and Herb Schiller as an astute critic of the sellout of mass media - and democratic society - to corporate America... Contending that the power and money behind the conglomerate means that everything and everyone has a price, McChesney packs his book with historical and contemporary facts and examples. And (unlike most critics) he offers a solution: four proposals for media reform... All who cherish democratic principles should read this book." - Choice "This refreshingly readable book belongs on supplemental reading lists of courses in media studies, media management and economics, media history, mass communication and society, and political communication." -- Joseph P. Bernt, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly