The Evolution of American Cuisine

Liam F.

Final Project Proposal: HUM Photojournalism

My photo series is about the evolution of American cuisine. I will be taking pictures of food, and writing about their history in detail. America is a country of immigrants so the history of these foods is very interesting. I want people to know how unique and special it can be since it is always changing and being impacted by other cultures from around the world.

The Hershey bar is a classic American snack, known for its sweet simplicity. The famous candy was first created by Milton Hershey in 1900. He found that chocolate had been rising in popularity amongst Europeans, and Swiss chocolate, a more milky and smooth chocolate, had also been growing in popularity. Milton saw the future of candy as chocolate, milky and smooth, and traveled to Switzerland to learn more about how chocolate was made, from the more bitter tasting chocolate to the sweeter, milkier chocolate. After a long time of experimenting, Milton was able to come up with a brand new chocolate candy. The Hershey bar. It was the perfect candy. Smooth and milky. Big enough to share, but also easy to break into smaller pieces. It was compact enough to mass produce, and easy to transport across the country. The Hershey bar was a hit, reaching mass sales from all over the country, and was even starting to seep into the rest of the world. The Hershey bar’s phenomenal success shaped the future of chocolate, and candy alike. Hershey’s success grew internationally, and his company grew with it. The Hershey bar is over 121 years old, and still remains popular. It comes in many different varieties and flavors, and is a classic American chocolate. It also contains a mix of different cultures, from the Mayans who first made chocolate, to the Swedish who refined it. I chose this photo because the Hershey bar is iconic, and the photo really captures the essence of the Hershey bar. I took inspiration from fast food advertisements, which tend to use close perspective of the food, allowing for a more detailed photo.

Research from

The cheeseburger/hamburger is a classic, timeless meal. Typically served with french fries, the cheeseburger became popular in the late 19th century. The exact origins of the cheeseburger are unknown, but in the late 19th century, beef was at the peak of its popularity. Restaurants were looking for a new original way to add more flavor to beef, so they experimented with cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, and other toppings to add. It quickly became an instant favorite, and soon everyone was making their own cheeseburgers. They have the perfect blend of flavor, and they are simple and cheap to make. There are many variations to the cheeseburger, which make use of different toppings and ingredients. The cheeseburger is, and probably always will be, a staple of American cuisine. I chose these photos because the cheeseburger is very well known, and I think this picture represents the cheeseburger quite well. It also contains a mix of cultures, using European minced beef patties. I took inspiration from my mom who encouraged me to use lighting outdoors to my advantage. This allowed for good focus on the food.

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While the origin of ice cream remains unknown, throughout history, people have been depicted to be enjoying flavored frozen treats. Marco Polo also brought back a recipe from his travels that closely resembles today’s sorbet. Ice cream comes in many different varieties, and there seems to be countless flavors and variations for anyone to enjoy. I chose this photo because it shows what ice cream is all about, and also looks delicious. I took inspiration from the lighting outdoors to make a high quality photo. It reflects off the ice cream which can draw the eye toward it. 

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Popcorn is known for its light airy flavor, and its association with the theater. Popcorn is made from corn kernels. The outside shell of the kernel is turned into steam once the temperature rises high enough, and the kernel forcefully expands up to 20 to 50 times its original size. Popcorn is also made with plenty of butter to give it more flavor. Sometimes salt is added to increase the flavor of the kernels. Once popcorn began to rise in popularity, more varieties and flavors were created. Popular varieties include chocolate, caramel, almonds and other nuts. I chose this photo because it captures a close up perspective of popcorn. I used the lighting outside to my advantage to make a great looking photo.

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While the exact origin of Potato chips remains unknown, the most commonly believed origin comes from a chef named George Crum from Saratoga Springs in New York, who was trying to please upset customers. They had complained his fried potatoes were not salty enough, or too thick and soggy. He decided to alter the recipe to make it thinner, and saltier, producing the first potato chips. While this story may not be true, the potato chip grew extremely popular, ushering in more variations, including onion potato chips, salt and vinegar chips, and many more flavors. This snack contains a mix of cultures with roots from seasoned Irish potatoes. I chose this photo because it highlights the essence of potato chips.

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Me: “What is your favorite food?”

Dad: “I like Thai food”

Me: “What do you like about it?”

Dad: “It’s got some nice unique flavors. It’s filling and it’s a little spicy.”

Me: “Where did you find out about this food?”

Dad: “About 15 years ago I think your mother told me about it”

Me: “Ok, thank you for your help!”

It was pretty fun to interview my dad. He really likes Thai food. Despite my warnings for him to be more serious I still the think the interview turned out quite well.

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