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113 4 TASTE AND SCIENCE Cooking Schools, Home Economics, and the Progressive Impulse We need to learn the meaning of democracy in taste in regard to food, to realize that the highest good and the good of the greatest number is to be considered as much in the affairs of daily life as in decisions that touch the community, the state, the nation. Henrietta Goodrich, “Standards of Living,” 1902 HENRIETTA GOODRICH’S “Standards of Living,” a speech delivered at the fourth Lake Placid Conference on Home Economics, epitomizes Progressive domesticity’s revision of taste discourse.Throughout the piece she emphasizes “standards,” defining what they must be and listing precise ways men and women devoted to home economics can bring them about. “A man’s standard of living determines how he shall live,” she claims, yet those standards are “not always conscious” or are theoretical and inconsistent with his ways of living.1 The goals of home economics, then, are to promote standards that will “bring the home into harmony with industrial conditions and social ideals,” a goal that “can never be accomplished till the home in popular conception shall embody something more than the idea of personal relationships to individual homes.”2 Goodrich offers an objective method to achieve this end, through education in cooking and housekeeping, but she also suggests a subjective method: “so to alter popular standards of living that men shall desire for themselves a higher standard.”3 Only then can the objective method take full effect. In essence, then, Goodrich suggests that the broader goal of the home economics movement is to alter society’s tastes. The Lake Placid Conferences, held each year from 1899 to 1908, solidified home economics as both the name of this Progressive domestic movement and its place as an educational and social institution in American culture. When 114 TASTE AND SCIENCE Henrietta Goodrich suggested at the fourth Lake Placid Conference on Home Economics that there should be a “democracy in taste,”she meant that the education , manipulation, and deployment of taste should be of utmost importance to the economic and moral goals of the nation. The Progressive era saw largescale reform goals enacted at all levels of society and often combined moral idealism with emerging science and technological advances. Its ultimate goal was to promote efficiency and productivity by standardizing home and work, thus leading to a better quality of life for all citizens. Taste education appeared in the form of cooking schools and the home economics movement, whose publications combined the Progressive emphasis on science and professionalism with women’s traditional duties in the home. The middle-class values promoted in taste discourse now gained scientific backing. As this study has argued, women used the space of the cookbook, in particular the careful manipulation of taste discourse, to contribute to public reform goals. In the Progressive era, advances in nutritional science made the cookbook a potent means of intervening in the daily lives of women to enact reform on a personal level. The importance of food to social reform meant that the cookbook took on a more public role than ever before. Authors viewed themselves as educators, and their directives included advice for public institutions such as hospitals and factories, as well as the home. Ellen Richards, a founder and leader of the domestic science movement, argued that “there is no subject which should occupy the attention of educators comparable with that of food and its influence of human progress.”4 This objective, combined with the Progressive emphasis on standardization and efficiency, led to a massive overhaul of the form and content of cookbooks. Women revised the recipe format to include a list of ingredients, which would previously have been integrated into the narrative of the recipe, and standardized measurements. Mary Lincoln, the first teacher at the Boston Cooking School, wrote the first cookbook in what is often considered its modern form.Mrs. Lincoln’s Boston Cook Book: What to Do and What Not to Do in Cooking,published in 1884,contributed to the scientific presentation of the recipe by altering what Colleen Cotter refers to as its list and action components, thus altering its narrative strategy.5 No longer a conversational or participatory narrative, the modern recipe indicated a scientific authority, rather than an experienced housewife, at its helm. With this change came an increased emphasis on professionalism and expertise in the home. Many women worked to reform food habits, but not all of them would have considered themselves...


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