How Trader Joe’s Changed the Way America Eats

Presented by Susie Wyshak

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Discover Trader Joe’s key role in introducing fun and unusual foods into the American diet decades ago, when the company was already encouraging the non-health food store shopper to try “better for you” versions of already-popular foods. Wyshak compares items featured in a 1982 flyer  to how we eat now to show TJ’s importance in creating a nation of adventurous food lovers. Continue reading

Sweet Greeks: First-Generation Immigrant Confectioners in the Heartland

Presented by Ann Flesor Beck
Author and Candy Maker

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Gus Flesor came to the United States from Greece in 1901. His journey led him to Tuscola, Illinois, where he learned the confectioner’s trade and opened a business that still stands on Main Street. Sweet Greeks sets the story of Gus Flesor’s life as an immigrant in a small town within the larger history of Greek migration to the Midwest. Continue reading

An Invasion of Gastronomic Proportions: My Adventures with Chicago Animals, Human and Otherwise

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Presented by Mike Sula,
Senior Writer, The Chicago Reader

Mike’s favorite stories were about the people on the edges of the city’s food system; the oddballs, the uncelebrated, the immigrants cooking for their own—and especially the people willing to break the law to put food on the table. There was Shirley the Muffin Lady, making the rounds of the bars with baskets full of weed-spiked treats. Continue reading

When Potato Fields were Prisons: Unfree Farm Labor in McHenry County during World War II

Presented Samuel Klee, Ph.D. candidate
(Program in conjunction with the Highland Park Historical Society)

During World War II, some farmers in Marengo, Illinois negotiated with a large food corporation and federal agencies to make local farm fields into restricted, prison-like spaces. When the Curtiss Candy Company brought Japanese-Americans from the Tule Lake Internment Camp in California to cultivate and pick potatoes in 1943, the Marengo community struggled with the federal government and the candy company to eliminate the outsiders’ presence.

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