The National Archives is holding an exhibit on the government's influence (or lack thereof) over American eating habits. According to the promotional website, the "What's Cooking, Uncle Sam?" exhibition shows how "Government has been a factor in the production, regulation, research, innovation and economics of our food supply. It has also attempted, with varying success, to change the eating habits of Americans. From the farm to the dinner table, explore the records of the National Archives that trace the Government's effect on what Americans eat."
This all sounds pretty dry, but while reviewing the website, I was stopped dead by this 1940s poster for Vitamin Donuts.
Let me repeat that: Vitamin. Donuts. That promise pep and vigor!
The poster's caption on the exhibition's promotional website says, "The Doughnut Corporation sought endorsment [sic] from the Nutrition Division of the War Food Administration for its Vitamin Doughnuts campaign." It doesn't say whether they received the endorsement, or anything about the sales figures that must have resulted, but they could only have been enormous: Vitamin-enriched anything pretty much flies off the shelves (Vitamin Water, Vitamin Gummy Bears, etc.), and people want excuses to eat doughnuts anyway. The real question is why hasn't anyone resurrected this gem?
Also, did you know that butter used to have its own food group? Oh, but yes, according to this 1945 poster. Think about that: The government used to demand that we eat butter every day. How is that not better than the lousy "MyPlate" guideline the Obama administration just rolled out, which has NO BUTTER AT ALL? (There's a grudging addition of "dairy" to appease the milk lobby, but there's also a dreary admonition to "switch to fat free or low-fat (1 percent) milk.") Thanks a lot, buzzkill.
Listen: President Obama is struggling with terrible poll numbers and an economy that's behaving like LeBron James (you shovel vast sums of money at it, but it keeps choking down the stretch). If the president really wants to keep us fat, happy and voting Democratic, he should strongly consider giving Vitamin Donuts to every child and making butter its own food group again.
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