Junk Food and Fast Food

Vernor's Ginger Ale

In 1866, James Vernor, a Detroit pharmacist, introduced Vernor’s Ginger Ale, which is considered the first commercial carbonated soft drink. In 1896, Vernor established his own soda fountain to dispense it and he began selling the extract to drugstores in other cities, such as Buffalo, Toledo, and Cleveland. Today, Vernor’s brand is owned by Cadbury […]


The term vegetarian was used in the United States by the 1830s, but it was popularized by Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom at their first meeting in 1847 and by the American Vegetarian Society at its inaugural meeting in 1850. During the latter part of the nineteenth century, the Seventh-Day Classic Valentine’s Day candy. […]

Vending Machines

Automatic vending machines were developed in the United Kingdom in the 1880s. The Thomas Adams Gum Company began selling gum in vending machines on New York’s elevated train platforms. Previously, penny candy, gum and peanuts had been sold in glass jars by grocers. Coin-operated machines offered the means to sell junk foods in many other […]

Valentine's Day Candies

Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14, traditionally in honor of a saint killed in Roman times. It was a popular holiday in medieval Europe. Precisely when candy became the traditional gift given on Valentine’s Day is unclear. In the 1860s, Richard Cadbury introduced the first Valentine’s Day box of chocolates in England. One of […]


Unilever was formed in 1930 when the Dutch margarine company Margarine Unie merged with British soap maker Lever Brothers. The resulting Anglo-Dutch multinational corporation has acquired many food companies. In the United States, these include Ben & Jerry’s, Slim-Fast, Hellmann’s, Birdseye, Good Humor, Breyers, and Gold Bond Ice Cream, makers of Popsicle and Good Humor, […]

Urban Blight

Fast food chains are not the cause of urban blight, but they have contributed to it. During the 1920s, drive-in restaurants targeted customers driving automobiles. Drive-ins were usually constructed on the outskirts of cities where land prices were lower and automobile traffic was high, thus contributing to urban sprawl. Because automobiles sped along at a […]

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

The Bureau of Agriculture was established in 1862; in 1889, the Bureau became the U.S. Department of Agriculture with cabinet rank. The USDA administers thousands of programs related to food and agriculture and has sponsored extensive research to help farmers improve their crops. Critics have claimed that USDA programs have strongly supported factory farms and […]


In the 1920s, the Continental Baking Company began making sponge cakes that were mainly used for making strawberry shortcake. At the time, strawberries were only in season during the summer, and hence their shortcakes were sold only during that time. The company sought ideas for products that could be produced so that the factory producing […]


During the 1970s, Billy Ingram, owner of White Castle, the first nation’s fast food chain, faced many problems, one of which was the reputation of hamburger stands as being greasy, unclean, and unhealthy. To overcome these widespread perceptions, he required all employees to maintain strict standards of cleanliness. At first he did not require employees […]

Tombstone Pizza

In the early 1960s, Joseph, Ronald, Frances, and Joan Simek owned the Tombstone Bar, a small country tavern across the street from a cemetery in Medford, Wisconsin. In 1962, they began making small pizzas for their customers and expanded to making frozen pizza in a small factory next to their tavern for distribution to other […]