American Food Culture

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American Food Culture


Australian food shifted during WWII to welcome American food cultures as a result of the American military base. Americans were loyal to their eating habits and considered Australian food far below their standards.(1) The Australian diet pre-WWII was based on British cuisine, consisting largely of meat and a small variety of predominantly root vegetables.(2) The US diet was far more varied and nutritionally focused; one American was said to eat the same amount of salad vegetables as six Australians.(3)

Americans were not able to persuade Australians to feast of salad, but other US diet staples were readily adopted, particularly as the media pushed US cultural foods.(4) Coffee and doughnuts took over the role of British tea and biscuits, Coca-Cola became the soft drink of choice, and hamburgers and hotdogs competed with the humble meat pie.

These foods where able to enter Australia as American women working in Red Cross soldiers’ canteen taught Australian volunteers how to make these beloved American foods.(5)

The physical restrictions that were imposed on Australian eating by rations forced a distancing from British style cuisine. This coupled with the embrace of US culture after Britain failed to come to Australia’s aid after the Darwin bombings and America did, saw an overall shift in food consumption to adopt the American style of eating that continued after the war.(6)

1. “Australian and American Food,” The Central Queensland Herald, 15 October 1942.|||l-availability=y%2Ff|||l-australian=y
2. Mark Wahlquist. “History of Nutrition in Australia,” in Food and Nutrition in Australia, ed. Mark L Wahlquist (Melbourne: Thomas Nelson, 1988), 16.
3. “American Menu,” Bowen Independent, 1 May 1942.|||l-availability=y|||l-australian=y
4. O’Brien, Flavour of Melbourne, 199.
5. “Can Still Get Hamburgers,” The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 31 March 1943.|||l-availability=y%2Ff|||l-australian=y
6. Symons, One Continuous Picnic, 171.