A&P. 1956. “11 Oct 1956, Page 3 – The Daily Tar Heel at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com. The Daily Tar Heel. October 11, 1956. https://universityofnorthcarolinaatchapelhill.newspapers.com/image/70394536/?terms=canned food.

Between the years 1940 and 1959 there was a huge shift in food and eating habits in the United States. During this time World War II was going on and later on December 7, 1941, the United States entered World War II. During the war rationing at home changed the eating habits and the foods Americans ate. At the beginning of 1942, the government rationed sugar, coffee, canned goods, meat, fish, butter, and cheese for the army. Ration laws also changed the perception of frozen food. After the war, foods formerly manufactured solely for army use were put on the civilian market which became extremely popular with the civilians. Frozen and dried food products also became popular with Americans after the war.[1] People became more interested in the idea of convenience food such as can food and other pre-packaged goods. This can be explained because of the government rationing and WWII soldier rations. “1950s cookbooks, food company brochures, and popular women’s magazine confirm the popularity of tuna noodle and green bean casseroles frosted meatloaf (frosted with mashed potatoes and served with peas) and anything grilled…though mostly red meat…”[2]

The advertisement is from a section of The Daily Tar Heel, an independent student-run newspaper of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on the October 11, 1956 cover. This advertisement is from the A&P grocery market. A&P was an American chain of grocery stores. The advertisement in The Daily Tar Heel is specifically for the A&P grocery store a few miles from Carrboro, to the small upscale city of Chapel Hill.[3] From 1915 through 1975, A&P was the largest grocery retailer in the United States. A&P was considered an American icon at that time. In the A&P grocery advertisement, there are many foods that are depicted, but what stood out that were many popular foods advertised for mentioned during the 1950s.[4] A lot of the food advertised were either canned, frozen, or meat. This advertisement clearly demonstrates the popularity of frozen and canned food after World War II. This may also be the fact that A&P was such a large grocery chain, they attracted consumers by advertising what is popular at the time.

The food that was advertised in the A&P grocery market depicted food that was prevalent and popular in Chapel Hill. The food showed may be food that was popular with the nation in general, but grocery stores also customize food to what is popular and prevalent in the community they are serving. The grocery store might also custom the food to what produce is available in the local area of Chapel Hill. This advertisement might also depict the agricultural products that were grown near the area during this time such as potatoes.[5] Some of the food had fonts larger than the other foods can depict the popularity and prevalence of it to the community of Chapel Hill during the 1950s such as mild American cheese, lemon pies, full loin, potatoes, full loin, Stokely Shellie beans, and Bob’s butter brittle. This advertisement also showed an essential part in how people got their food from grocery stores.

These changes in eating habits caused huge changes in appliances, transportation, and farming that is still present today. New refrigerators with bigger freezers were soon developed for the popularity of frozen food during the 1950s. This advertisement also depicts what was eaten and popular during the 1950s. In the present, grocery store advertisement and the media that relate to food also depicts what food is popular and trendy now.

-Karen Huang


[1]Reinhardt, Claudia, and Bill Ganzel. n.d. “Changes in Eating Habits .” Helen Bolton on Moving to California. Accessed November 9, 2018. https://livinghistoryfarm.org/farminginthe40s/life_24.html.

[2]Olver, Lynne. 2015. “FAQs: Popular 20th Century American Foods.” The Food Timeline: History Notes–Restaurants, Chefs & Foodservice. February 27, 2015. http://www.foodtimeline.org/fooddecades.html#1950s.

[3]A&P. 1956. “11 Oct 1956, Page 3 – The Daily Tar Heel at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com. The Daily Tar Heel. October 11, 1956. https://universityofnorthcarolinaatchapelhill.newspapers.com/image/70394536/?terms=canned food.

[4]“The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company.” Wikipedia. October 15, 2018. Accessed November 09, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Atlantic_&_Pacific_Tea_Company.

[5]“AG’s Cool Potatoes.” n.d. Plant Nutrients. Accessed November 9, 2018. http://www.ncagr.gov/agscool/commodities/potkid.htm.