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The Italian American TableFood, Family, and Community in New York City$
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Simone Cinotto

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037733

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037733.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 27 June 2022

The American Business of Italian Food

The American Business of Italian Food

Producers, Consumers, and the Making of Ethnic Identities

(p.105) 4 The American Business of Italian Food
The Italian American Table

Simone Cinotto

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the layered worlds of the Italian food business and consumer marketplace in East Harlem. In order to understand the central role of food in the making of Italian American identity, it is necessary to look at how Italian American food entrepreneurs in New York sought to link food with ethnic identity. This chapter first discusses the history of American-made Italian food and food consumption among Italian migrants between 1890 and 1920, along with the development of the U.S. food industry at the turn of the twentieth century. It then looks at the emergence of a new generation of consumers and food businesses during the period 1920–1940. It also considers the marketing strategies of Italian food producers and the response of Italian American consumers in the interwar years in relation to ethnicity and modernity. It shows that the centrality of food created an entrepreneurial ethnic middle class based in the food trade, which nurtured—and in turn supported by—the symbolic connection between the consumption of Italian food and the construction of diasporic Italian identities.

Keywords:   modernity, East Harlem, Italian American identity, ethnic identity, food entrepreneurs, Italian food, food consumption, food industry, Italian American consumers, middle class

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