Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Networks of desire: how technology increases our passion to consume

When we walk into a restaurant, we are often confronted by the sight of people taking pictures of their food with their smartphones. Online, our Facebook feeds seem dominated by pictures of people’s hamburgers and desserts. What is going on with food porn? How is consumer desire itself transformed by contemporary technology?

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Sugar plums and mince pies

The Worcester joiner, John Read, appears to have been a regular customer of Thomas Dickenson, but two purchases stand out: on 25 December 1740 and again on 26 December 1741 he bought sugar plums and spices to the value of 5 shillings and 2 pence. Perhaps these were a special treat for his family, marking the festive season with small luxuries to relieve what was probably an otherwise rather unremarkable diet.

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Aging Cheddar: a timeline of the world-famous cheese

In the cheesemaking world, “Cheddar” is a generic term for cheeses that fall into a wide range of flavor, color, and texture. According to the US Code of Federal Regulations, any cheese with a moisture content of up to 39% and at least 50% fat in dry matter is legally considered a form of Cheddar. […]

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Encyclopedia of Social Work

Donate smarter this Thanksgiving and holiday season

You probably know about how important it is to donate food to your local soup kitchen during the holiday season (and the rest of the year, as well!), but do you ever give much thought to what you’re donating? Do you ever give food you wouldn’t necessarily want to feed to your kids in large quantities?

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Oxford Classical Dictionary

Brexit, Marmite, and brand loyalty in the Roman World

One of the early and somewhat unexpected effects of Brexit in the UK was the threatened ‘Marmageddon’, the shortage and subsequent price rise of the much-loved – and much-hated – Marmite. Brands were, however, also a part of much earlier economies. In ancient Rome, for instance, consumers placed their trust in a number of brand markers, which signified reputation and quality, and very often carried a certain prestige. This was particularly the case with food and drink, especially wine.

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A literary Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has many historical roots in American culture. While it is typically a day spent surrounded by family and showing appreciation for what we are thankful for, we would all be lying if we did not admit that our favorite part is consuming an abundance of delicious food until we slip into a food coma.

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Where to eat in San Diego during SfN 2016

In just a few days, the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting will be kicking off in San Diego, California. I’ve had a number of homes in my 48 years; the most recent being the New York/New Jersey area for the last ten years as part of Oxford University Press. But the longest home, and the one I keep coming back to, is San Diego. The weather is perfect, the multi-cultural facets are inspiring, the local universities top-notch, and the food scene is divine.

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Cities lead pushback against Big Soda

Hacked corporate emails that expose Coca-Cola’s efforts to quash local health initiatives, a long-awaited statement from the World Health Organization expressing strong support for taxes on sugary drinks, and upcoming votes on four local soda tax proposals are keeping the grassroots movement to protect health over beverage industry profits front and center this fall.

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Halloween’s killer cereals

For many of us, the prospect of Halloween is scary enough without the presence of roaming spirits. Those with children must weigh the risks of letting them trick-or-treat unsupervised—the familiar danger of “sugar overload”. Those with teenagers must consider the damage their brood are capable of doing, whether with eggs, toilet paper, or worse. Horror film goers will struggle with the walk home through darkened streets after back-to-back screenings.

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Presidential birthday cakes: the Ike Day recipe

On this day, sixty years ago, Republicans celebrated President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s upcoming birthday with a star-studded televised tribute on CBS. As part of his re-election campaign, Ike Day was a nationwide celebration of Ike: communities held dinners and parades, there were special halftime shows at college football games, and volunteers collected thousands of signatures from citizens pledging to vote.

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American History

The transformation of food in America in the 19th century

At the start of the 1800s, American cities had only a few public dining options such as taverns or hotels; by the end of the century, restaurants had become “a central part of the fabric of cities.” In the 19th century, the landscape of food consumption in America greatly changed. The modern concepts of retail food shops, restaurants, industrial food systems, and diverse food options emerged.

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Around the world in spices and herbs

On supermarket shelves, we are given a mind-numbing array of choices to select from. Shall we have some peppercorns on our macaroni, some cinnamon for baking, or a bit of rosemary with roast pork? Five hundred years ago, however, cooking with herbs and spices was a much simpler choice.

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Twelve interesting facts about chocolate

Did you know that 7th July is International Chocolate Day? This is, of course, a day to eat that extra piece of chocolate or bake (and then eat) a cake just for fun! But while you savor each bite of chocolaty goodness, keep in mind that behind the sweet flavor is a long and dynamic history that has traveled across oceans and transcended cultural boundaries.

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Does climate change spell the end of fine wine?

Fine wine is an agricultural product with characteristics that make it especially sensitive to a changing climate. The quality and quantity of wine, and thus prices and revenues, are extremely sensitive to the weather where the grapes were grown. Depending on weather conditions, the prices for wines produced by the same winemaker from fruit grown on the same plot of land can vary by a factor of 20 or more from year to year.

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Food economics: a reading list

Agriculture is a means of living for a large percentage of the world’s population. Agricultural economics looks at the utilization and distribution of farming resources and aims to apply the principles of economic theory to farming and the production and allocation of food in order to optimize such processes. This month the annual conference of the Agricultural Economics Society is taking place.

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Disparity in the restaurant industry [infographic]

If someone were to tell you that the restaurant industry is one of the lowest paying sectors in the US economy, the types of jobs that might come to mind include those in the fast food segment. Not surprisingly, workers from all parts of the restaurant industry—tipped and non-tipped—live in poverty.

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