Children’s Gastronomy: 1960s style

I have been re-reading Christine Ripault’s Children’s Gastronomique (1966), and was struck by the advice of M. Alex Humbert, chef at Maxim’s. He advised Ripault’s readers thus,

The cardinal piece of advice that I give to parents who understand the reason for making their children precocious gastronomes is this: Don’t abuse your power. Take the tastes of your children into consideration, just as you take your own. (173)

M. Humbert went further, noting that children place great importance upon what they eat and how it is prepared. He urged parents to be inventive and to honor their children’s individual preferences when composing menus and preparing their food.

The dishes the chefs and Ms. Ripault dreamed up for budding gastronomes were a far cry from both the bland nursery foods of the past and the overblown, “my little boy just loves duck feet,” style of today’s tiny foodies.

The French gourmet child of the 1960s feasted on farina and vegetables, savory tarts, pate and Roquefort cheese. She might breakfast on chocolate malted instant food (like Carnation Instant Breakfast), and devour Moroccan Fish Croquettes for lunch.

All of this has made me wonder what the average American child was eating c. 1966. My own early foods were mostly bland and clean foods such as vegetable sticks and cheese…although an old Greek sea captain who lived on our block shared olives and feta with me.

According to an article from the New York Times in 1963 cited on the Food History Timeline most school lunches were meatless (schools could request frankfurters, bologna, and other lunch meats). They seem to have included a lot of boiled eggs and jam and butter sandwiches. They cost 25 cents. By 1968 the LA Times noticed kids’ “growing acceptance of such ethnic and foreign fare as pizza, lasagna, chili and enchiladas” and said that kids liked “meats and sweets” and disliked vegetables (also from the Food History Timeline).

Has anyone seen a source for what Toddlers were eating in America in the 1960s? Do you remember what you were fed?

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About Cooking with Clio

I am a historian. I teach at a large Southern California University. I love to cook and garden and I have recently taken up sewing.
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One Response to Children’s Gastronomy: 1960s style

  1. Mel says:

    I was a child in the ’60s and a teenager in the ’70s, and I remember eating a lot of meat, dairy, and fresh or canned-from-home vegetables and fruit in the ’60s. But that probably had a lot to do with the fact that we lived on a farm. By the mid-’70s, we had moved to town and there was even more processed food on the market, so I think my diet was less healthy then.

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