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Advertising to the American Woman 1900-1999
Chapter 3: Home, Hearth and Housekeeping

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American women of all classes historically have shared one particular common denominator: cooking. Prior to the second quarter of the nineteenth century when mass-produced cast iron and steel stoves were more available nationwide, cooking was a labor-intensive chore done on an open fire in a fireplace. Wood or coal had to be hauled into the house, and ashes removed daily. Worse was the limited variety of food that could be cooked by this method. Kettles of stews or soups were easy enough, but the art of banking fires over Dutch ovens or piles of bricks or stones for baking took considerable experience. Likewise, choosing the types of wood that burned hotter or longer and then arranging the fuels for consistent fires required great skill. Even when successful, though, early American cooking was regarded with disdain both at home and abroad. English novelist Frederick Marryat wrote in the early nineteenth century that there were "plenty of good things for the table in America; but 'God sends meat, and the devil sends cooks.'"

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Daniel Delis Hill, Ohio State Press

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