Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Food and Marketing History from the Hagley Library

Seagram's 7 Crown ad, 1980
In the summer 2013 issue of Digest: A Journal of Foodways and Culture, Ai Hisano has published a research note on the value of food market studies for historians, "Negotiating Taste: Food Market Research in the Hagley Library." She argues that "marketing research can serve as a way to comprehend not only corporate initiatives but also the political and cultural constructions of eating and drinking habits and interrelations between producers, distributors, and consumers." Her research focuses on two Hagley Library collections, the Seagram Company papers and the papers of Ernest Dichter, a psychologist who pioneered the use of motivational research as a marketing tool. Hisano's Digest research note is of particular interest because she lays out the many scholarly issues into which these materials might provide insight. She concludes,
The marketing studies found in [these] collections articulate how corporate business activities are closely related to political, economic, and cultural conditions. . . . To fully understand the dynamics of global exchanges of information and goods, it is essential to employ various approaches and methodologies across disciplines. . . . Only if scholars come together from a variety of disciplinary locations, will we be able to create more intricate pictures of food and drink histories and their roles in society.
Ai Hisano is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Delaware and a Hagley Fellow. She was a participant in the 2013 BHC Doctoral Colloquium.