Culinary News from The Culinary Institute of America

Guns and Butter: American Food Experiences During the World Wars

Student-Curated Exhibit at The Culinary Institute of America

Hyde Park, NY – Over the course of a semester, students in The Culinary Institute of America’s Food History class have been researching and curating a museum exhibit for the public. Guns and Butter: American Food Experiences during the World Wars is the result of this semester’s project. Through the use of primary texts, cultural artifacts, and multi-media the exhibit showcases many aspects related the relationship between food, World War I, and World War II in American history.

The title of the exhibit draws on the economic theory of a nation’s resources. As part of the National Defense Act of 1916, a Congressional debate over the use of nitrates for American farmers or to build munitions brought the phrase “Guns vs. Butter” into public consciousness. In this exhibit, CIA students not only mark the centennial of the armistice of WWI, but reframe the debate to illustrate the intimate relationship between guns AND butter, that is war and food.

Some of the themes they explored include: food production, technology, and preservation; the role of the government in food rationing and civilian responses; Victory Gardens and the Women’s Land Army; and diets of soldiers, POWs, and  those in internment camps. Informational text is gleaned from primary and secondary sources. Students have augmented the exhibit by producing multi-media elements as well.

An opening reception will be held on Tuesday, July 24, from 5:30–6:30 p.m. in the Conrad N. Hilton Library on the CIA campus in Hyde Park. Student curators will be on hand to answer questions regarding the exhibit and to prepare and serve recipes that reflect themes in the exhibit.

The exhibit will be on display in the Donald and Barbara Tober Exhibit Room in the Hilton Library until December 2018. The hours are Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m.–8:30 p.m.; Friday, 8:30 a.m.–7 p.m.; and Saturday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

Both the exhibit and reception are free and open to the public.

Photo Caption and Hi-Res Image:

Wartime Canning and Cooking Book, published by the New York World-Telegram newspaper in 1943 to help families use rationed ingredients during World War II. This is one of many items on display as part of the exhibit, Guns and Butter: American Food Experiences during the World Wars, curated by students in The Culinary Institute of America’s Food History class. The exhibit runs through the end of the year in the Conrad N. Hilton Library on the CIA’s Hyde Park, NY campus. (Credit: CIA Archives)
View hi-res image >

Media Contacts:

Beth Forrest, PhD

Nicole Semenchuck
Library Archives

About The Culinary Institute of America:

Founded in 1946, The Culinary Institute of America is the world’s premier culinary college. Dedicated to developing leaders in foodservice and hospitality, the independent, not-for-profit CIA offers master’s, bachelor’s, and associate degrees with majors in culinary arts, baking & pastry arts, food business management, hospitality management, culinary science, and applied food studies. The college also offers executive education, certificate programs, and courses for professionals and enthusiasts. Its conferences, leadership initiatives, and consulting services have made the CIA the think tank of the food industry and its worldwide network of nearly 50,000 alumni includes innovators in every area of the food world. The CIA has locations in New York, California, Texas, and Singapore.

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