About a year ago, I did a Post on Fanta and I also touched on Coca-cola in this post. I was walking through a Kroger and happen to see a section of "processed meat" A.K.A. "Spam". I figured that it would make a good blogpost. Some people don't like spam, but I do, I can eat it straight but I prefer to fry it or grill it. As I understand it, the Pacific Rim loves the stuff.
Food has often been an important part of warfare. What is less known
is how food developed for warfare changed people’s lives after the war.
The most important development happened after World War II, though the
canning process has been around for a long time.
started by using tin cans to preserve various items in the early
19th century. British sailors and explorers found that canned food was a
relatively easy way to supplement their rations. For example, the
Arctic explorer William Parry took canned beef and pea soup on his
voyage. By the middle of the 19th century many of the middle class in
Europe bought canned food as novelty items.
The American Civil
War, Crimean War, and Franco Prussian War introduced hundreds of
thousands of soldiers to the novelty and enjoyment of canned foods,
which expanded their consumption even more. Yet at this time they still
remained relatively fringe items used by explorers and militaries
was the millions of men fighting in World War I and II that created an
explosion in demand for canned food. The American government in
particular faced problems connected to supplying troops in multiple
theaters of combat around the world. They had to supply and feed
millions of men with items that transported safely, survived trench
conditions, and didn’t spoil in transport.
foods thus became a pivotal part of the wartime experience. The C
rations in particular were pre-made meals that could be eaten either
warm or cold, so they often became the main staple of the war weary
got lucky in being able to supplement their canned rations with local
foods, and in World War II the rations of Allied servicemen often
included M&Ms and Coca-Cola. The M&M candies were particularly
liked because their hard outer shell prevented the chocolate interior
from melting during transport to hot and humid locations in southeast
“Coke” became the preferred drink of the troops due to a
marketing campaign in the States: any American in uniform could buy a
Coke for a nickel regardless of its listed price. But there were few
sources of the drink for Americans serving in Europe, Africa, and Asia.
General Eisenhower requested 3 million bottles of Coke be shipped to
his current location in North Africa, along with the equipment and
supplies to refill them as needed so they could maintain a permanent
supply of Coke.
Coca-Cola did one better and sent 148 personnel to
install and manage the overseas bottling plants. The specialists were
given uniforms and a rank of “technical adviser.” They were often called
“Cola Colonels” by the soldiers, and they were often treated very well
because they were a great boost to morale.
Coca-Cola and canned goods remained popular after the war. Coke
products inspired a worldwide thirst, and the canned food companies sold
their surplus goods on the civilian market. They also developed a
marketing campaign to relate the convenience of canned foods to the
demands of busy modern life.
production of instant meals in factories extensively lowered their cost
and expanded their use across the lower and middle classes. Some of
these items included powdered cheeses, instant drinks, and cured meats,
which were all developed during World War II but later became staples in
the civilian world. These developments in turn changed the palate of
the American consumer.
the next time you don’t feel like cooking and open up a can of soup, or
grab some M&Ms and wash them down with a Coke, or open a can of spam you’ll appreciate
the fascinating history of how your tastes for such foods resulted from
developments during wars, and how some of those foods were first
experienced by soldiers that were often thousands of miles away.