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

In: The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review

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.

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