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“Making people buy and eat differently”: lessons from the modernisation of small independent grocery stores in the early twentieth century

Authors
  • Cochoy, Franck1
  • 1 Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès, Toulouse, France , Toulouse (France)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Review of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Studies
Publisher
Springer Paris
Publication Date
Jun 29, 2017
Volume
99
Issue
1
Pages
15–35
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s41130-017-0046-5
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

Food studies teach us much about foods and eaters, but despite their impressive coverage and richness, they pay little attention to what occurs between the two: they tend to neglect the many market professionals and “market-things” that act as a bridge between food products and consumers. This paper proposes to fill the gap by examining how the transformation of the grocery business and related techniques contributed to reshaping the food industry’s strategies, the content of foods and the identity of eaters. This investigation was conducted by studying the trade magazine Progressive Grocer over the period 1922–1959. It shows how the journal promoted a new art of “making people buy and eat”. Grocers were invited to modify their practices, hence the eaters’ experience, by implementing two different strategies: a movement of “betterment” of their previous service know-how and then a more radical movement of “replacement” of this know-how by the new “self-service” arrangement. By following these two movements, we understand how grocery professionals and techniques made us buy and eat, but made us do so differently, to the extent that the grocery business and related devices changed foods as well as consumers’ identities.

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