HARVARD STUDIES IN BUSINESS HISTORY
Cover: Visualizing Taste: How Business Changed the Look of What You Eat, from Harvard University PressCover: Visualizing Taste in HARDCOVER

Harvard Studies in Business History 53

Visualizing Taste

How Business Changed the Look of What You Eat

Hisano examines how the appearance of everyday foods has changed from 1870 to 1970 in the United States… Natural dyes were common before synthetic alternatives offered an extensive spectrum of artificial colors. This fundamentally changed not only the color of processed foods like Jell-O and meats but also of fresh foods like fruits and vegetables—all at the behest of corporate interests. The author reveals the irony that growers, producers, and retailers redefined these ‘artificial’ colors as ‘fresh’ and ‘natural.’—Barkha Kagliwal, Technology and Culture

Richly textured and full of colorful characters, Ai Hisano’s Visualizing Taste shows us that what many consider ‘natural’ about food is in fact historically and culturally constructed. This book highlights how central the history of the senses is to the development of capitalism and modern consumption. Original, fascinating, and eye-opening.—Daniel Horowitz, author of Happier? The History of a Cultural Movement That Aspired to Transform America

An intriguing analysis that establishes food color as a critical example of how twentieth-century business strategies deployed the human senses. Visualizing Taste makes us think about what color means, to producers and to consumers.—Susan Strasser, author of Satisfaction Guaranteed: The Making of the American Mass Market

Seeing is believing, right? Not so fast. In this nuanced and highly original history of the ‘capitalism of the senses,’ Ai Hisano shows how the American food industry taught consumers to associate particular food colors with freshness, authenticity, and safety. In colonizing perception to suit business needs, food marketers radically changed the way we think about nature, health, beauty, and truth itself.—Warren Belasco, author of Appetite for Change: How the Counterculture Took On the Food Industry

Visualizing Taste makes a major contribution to business history and the history of the senses by investigating the multiple factors, including government regulation, that have shaped the visual presentation of today’s comestibles. Through Ai Hisano’s critical interrogation of the color code, this book will refresh your palate.—David Howes, Concordia University

Hisano’s book provides a compelling historical perspective on contemporary debates on sensory marketing and branding.—John Quelch, Miami Business School

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In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we’re showcasing titles that document the Asian American experience. Our second excerpt comes from Beth Lew-Williams’s prizewinning book The Chinese Must Go: Violence, Exclusion, and the Making of the Alien in America, which historian Richard White describes as “a powerful argument about racial violence that could not be more timely.” Monday night, Gong was asleep in his tent when the vigilantes returned