"The question of technology is not 'can we?', but 'should we?'"
- source unknown (to Yahoo! and Google), but it was posted at the front of my high school biology classroom.
America after World War II: An unprecedented blend of affluence, optimism, and faith in technology. Never mind that Cold War; the word "Atomic" had become the leading indicator of being on the cutting edge, and was even more pervasive in business names than even "Cyber" was for a brief, now embarrassing period in the '90s. And amid those sentiments, futurism was not about to stop at the dinner table. Surely they'd have robot maids and hand-held punch-card computers by 2006, but in the meantime, half a century earlier, the food could boldly go where no salad or casserole had gone before:
Better living through chemistry, baby. Take that, Khrushchev... unless the Geneva Convention had already banned it, of course.
Fortunately, James Lileks, writer and founder of the Institute of Official Cheer, realizes that no collection of mid-century ephemera is complete without wanton and gratuitous, graphic depictions of recipies involving gelatin, Dr. Pepper, sour cream, and other ingredients as Nature never intended.
Anyone wondering if humanity has made any progress over the past few decades need only take a moment to visit the aptly named Gallery of Regrettable Food, and sigh with relief that the Dr. Pepper Pot Roast has gone the way of imperial communism and the Edsel-- bad ideas we can now sit back and laugh at.