We have Instagram to thank (or, perhaps, blame) for the proliferation of avocado toast today. But it was another, much earlier development in food photography that introduced us to the avocado in the first place.
In the 1940s, brands like Crisco and Aunt Jemima began to produce “cookbooklets”—free, promotional pamphlets that contained recipes accompanied by vivid photographs touting their products. “In lots of ways, they changed the way, especially in America, that people ate,” explains Susan Bright, author of the recently published book Feast for the Eyes. “Things like avocados and orange juice really became household objects through these cookbooklets.”
Bright’s book, which explores the history of food in photography, reveals that the subjects have been intertwined for nearly two centuries—almost since the birth of photography itself. The medium was introduced to the general public in 1839 with the unveiling of the daguerrotype. Six years later,
took one of the first photographs with food as its primary subject: a still life containing baskets of peaches and a pineapple.