Industrial Farming, Industrial Food: Transnational Influences on Soviet Convenience Food in the Khrushchev Era

in The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review
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In the 1960s, food processing and production in the Soviet Union increasingly embraced an ideal inspired by foreign—especially American—innovations. Principles of speed and consistency meant that consumers more often encountered convenience foods, a category including canned vegetables, frozen fruits, and preprepared dishes, as well as popcorn, potato chips, and similar novelties for eating in public places. Detailing attempts to develop output and distribute these foods for consumption in homes and away from them, this article shows that Soviet ideals developed in dialogue those in other industrial societies, entangling the Soviet history with foreign counterparts. Noting that the results substantiate known failures of the state-socialist economy, the article emphasizes how inadequate capital investments limited these policies’ effectiveness. Tapping published sources and documents in the Moscow archives, it underscores how Soviet efforts to produce convenience foods interacted with evolving gender norms, cultural practices related to the home, and popular expectations about consumption.

References

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Jukka Gronow, Caviar with Champagne: Common Luxury and the Ideals of the Good Life in Stalin’s Russia (New York: Berg, 2003).

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Donald Filtzer, The Hazards of Urban Life in Late Stalinist Russia: Health, Hygiene, and Living Standards, 1943–1953 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 163–67.

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Robert Hornsby, Protest, Reform, and Repression in Khrushchev’s Soviet Union (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013). Vladimir Kozlov reaches similar conclusions, finding that these grievances were one potential cause for what he calls localized "disorders." See: Mass Uprisings in the ussr: Protest and Rebellion in the Post-Stalin Years, trans. and ed. Elaine McClarnand MacKinnon (Armonk, ny: M. E. Sharpe, 2002), 314. György Péteri points out Soviet leaders’ responses to popular unrest in Eastern Europe, which they feared might spread to the ussr. See: "Introduction: The Oblique Coordinate Systems of Modern Identity," in Imagining the West in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, ed. György Péteri (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010), 8.

21

Mark B. Smith, Property of Communists: The Urban Housing Program from Stalin to Khrushchev (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2010), 103.

23

Deborah Field, Private Life and Communist Morality in Khrushchev’s Russia (New York: Peter Lang, 2007), 27–30; and Lynne Attwood, Gender and Housing in Soviet Russia: Private Life in a Public Space (New York: Manchester University Press, 2010), 154–73.

24

I. K. Sivolap, et al., eds., Kniga o vkusnoi i zdorovoi pishche (Moscow: Pishchepromizdat, 1961), 72, 79, 100, and 157, respectively.

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Harvey Levenstein, Paradox of Plenty: A Social History of Eating in Modern America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 101.

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Laura Shapiro, Something from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America (New York: Viking, 2004), 8–11.

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Peter Carlson, K Blows Top: A Cold War Comic Interlude Starring Nikita Khrushchev, America’s Most Unlikely Tourist (New York: Public Affairs, 2009), 210–11. See also: Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev, vol. 3 Statesman, 1953–1964, ed. by Sergei Khrushchev, trans. George Shenfield (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2004), 145.

43

Shapiro, Something from the Oven, 48–50.

44

Attwood, Gender and Housing in Soviet Russia, 173.

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Raleigh, Soviet Baby Boomers, 224–31.

Figures

  • I. Volodin, “Na glazakh u pokupatelei,” Obshchestvennoe pitanie, no. 10 (1960): 38

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