Photo © Sarah John Afana
Photo © Sarah John Afana
Summer = beach = cooler. Stocked with bags of ice or frozen cold packs and—depending on the age cohort—sandwiches, lemonade, and watermelon chunks, or beer, beer, beer, and more beer, the squat plastic chests have been American picnic stalwarts since the 1960s. They originated as part of the Natick Center’s effort, beginning in 1955, to develop cellular polymers, foamed plastics, as building materials. The rigid, strong, and lightweight stuff was quickly incorporated into other uses, including refrigerated containers and insulated food coolers. Early contractors on Natick’s foamed plastics project included Dow Chemical and General Foods; their effort included at least two industry conferences, one in 1963 and the other in 1966.

Thanks to Richard A. Gabriel for this suggestion.


Combat-Ready Kitchen describes over six dozen military influences on our food. There are many, many more. Some I eliminated at the outset for lack of time and space—as it is, the book took three years to write and runs 300 pages. Others I abandoned midway through because I couldn’t find a critical piece of information to confirm the armed forces’ link. But the vast majority I simply don’t know about; they’re waiting to be discovered—maybe by you. If you can add to this inventory of military influences on the food system, email me. I’d love to hear from you.
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