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Care, Cookery and Commerce: Advertising Invalid Foods in 1920s-1930s Britain
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Food, Nutrition and Culinary Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9357-5596
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Food, Nutrition and Culinary Science.
2020 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Serving special meals to invalids is long-established as a way to encourage better nutritional uptake and improve patient well-being. As recently as the 1920s and 1930s, the term ‘invalid food’ was still widely understood as a special category of food for people with chronic conditions, and those who were convalescing from illness or injury.

At a time when there was still limited capacity to restore full health with effective treatments, even for those who had access to the best medical attention, being an invalid was often protracted. Care at home, usually by family, was commonplace especially for poorer households in a period of substantial economic and social change. Generally, the impact of nutritional science on doctors was minimal and households often turned to mass market cookery books, newspapers and the newly-available radio for practical advice about the preparation of meals to stimulate the appetite, or to give some other benefit to the patient.

Alongside the special meals that might be prepared at home, several commercial products were advertised to improve health in some way. These classified or display advertisements were regularly seen in period newspapers and little regulation existed to ensure product safety or dietary effectiveness. However, considerable claims were made: ease of digestion and appetite stimulation were the usual selling points although sometimes the fear of inadequate domestic efforts was used to suggest the value of a consistent commercial product. For reassurance, professional endorsement suggested product usefulness for a broad range of feeding needs. This profitable invalid food market even attracted the attention of more prosaic branded goods that might be advertised also as beneficial to those with delicate appetites.

By reference to period materials, primarily cookery books and digital newspaper archives, this paper explores the problems confronted by invalid households and the role of commercial products at a time when nutritional science was developing but not widely embedded in medical education, and was even less well understood by the carers who needed to provide meals every day with little to guide them in the task.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2020.
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Food and Nutrition
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-175574OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-175574DiVA, id: diva2:1472912
Conference
Retailing and Distribution in the 20th Century, Virtual, September 8, 2020
Available from: 2020-10-04 Created: 2020-10-04 Last updated: 2020-10-05Bibliographically approved

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Lyon, PhilKautto, Ethel

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
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More languages
Output format
  • html
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  • asciidoc
  • rtf