Keeping Kosher at Thirty Thousand Feet: The Production of Ethnicity in Airplane Cuisine, 1950s-1990

Elizabeth Zanoni, Old Dominion University

As air travel skyrocketed in the years following World War II, commercial airlines began developing their inflight meal service. In response to an increasingly diverse clientele of international air travelers, airlines such as Pan American World Airways began producing and offering “dietary and special religious meals” to appease the palates of multicultural travelers from different religious, ethnic, and national backgrounds. By the late 1950s, Pan Am for example, offered fish dinners for Catholics, and meals for “Jewish passengers, but also to those of the Hindu, Moslem and Oriental faiths.” This paper uses inflight menus, press releases, in-flight magazines, and the business records of U.S. commercial airlines and advertising agencies to investigate the growth and development of ethnic meals on domestic and international flights in the decades after World War II. It investigates the history of ethnic meal options against the backdrop of immigration and tourism to show how meal experiences on board reflected real and imagined notions of multiculturalism and U.S. led globalization during the Cold War.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 178. Food Migration: Tourism, Consumption, Performance