Will The Next Social Movement Start at Shake Shack? An Analysis of the Accessibility of America’s Eating Places

In 2000, New York City started to reclaim public space in Madison Square park in Manhattan because it was in a state of despair. Danny Meyer, Trinity College graduate and restaurateur, decided to help redevelop the park through the creation of the Madison Square Park Conservancy. Randy Garutti, Meyer’s Director of operations established a hot dog cart that was run through one of Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) operations. The hot dog cart was a great success as fans lined up daily for 3 years. One day, Danny Meyer decided to sit down and scribble on the back of a napkin the design for the hotdog stand, which was redeveloped into what we now know as Shake Shack. His design was a counterfeit from the American diner, even though they sold similar food. Meyer’s design was “not retro, not ‘50s music playing” but a place with “good people serving fresh food.” In 2004, the city started to take bids on the operation of Meyer’s design and in July 2004, Shake Shack established its first official kiosk.

Shake Shack was not actually meant to be a chain restaurant, according to Randy Garutti it was “designed for one purpose; to be a park of a Park and a community in New York,” Shake Shack already had one intended audience. Not only did Shake Shack have an intended audience, it grew up alongside the emergence of social media. It has benefited from ongoing advertising through their fans sharing real-time experiences with friends and family on social media platforms. This has also helped Shake Shack establish a renowned presence in the communities in the restaurants are built in. Meyer wanted to keep the trend of having a unique experience for customers going to a Shake Shack, so, according to Garutti, Shake Shack is designed specifically to each of its location. It creates signature milkshakes, and beverages based on the city in which it operates. This “fine casual” restaurant does, however, have a similar thread of the experience for its customers. The common thread that follows the  Shake Shack experience are hospitality, a standard menu of classic American food including their famous premium, sustainable ingredients like all-natural, hormone and antibiotic-free beef, and buzzers that will notify a customer when their food is ready.

Shake Shack has now grown to be the largest part of Meyer’s USHG portfolio. The company understands how to use social media and their digital presence. When explaining how they are capitalizing on their outsized brand awareness, they “believe that [their] press and media impressions and industry recognition are a testament to the strength of [the] brand.” In June 2014, Shake Shack ranked #10 on Restaurant Social Media Index’s top 250 restaurant brands. Through advertising and promoting their brand to the people of Manhattan, Shake Shack was able to have twice as much store revenue than McDonalds. But what not a lot of people understand is that this space was produced and controlled. For locals, unlike other American diners in the area,  it was branded as the best new restaurant 1.) be because it was opened in an accessible location, Madison Square Park and 2.) because it was advertised as a healthier burger.

Eating places and commercial establishments like Shake Shack reveal that private sites in American culture are diminishing because of their popularity. Although there is a movement popularizing dining in, beneath the surface of commercial eating places are trends of exclusionary acts. These chain restaurants, and the buildings that they are attached to, are not simply buildings but socially constructed sites. In the words of psychologist Kurt Lewin, “food habits do not occur in empty space.” Though policy has changed and made it illegal to refuse service to a person based on their race, the spatial decisions made concerning eating places have direct racial and class consequences. As eating places become more publicized, the administrative offices in the commercial establishments become city builders, making decisions on the cities spatial dynamics and zone regulators, determining which crowd has access to their restaurant. Hence, there is a causal relationship between the spatial distance of the chain restaurant and the social meaning of the establishment. Directly following these geographic decisions are public and private consequences. I will examine the commercialization of eating places by looking at the architectural design, intended consumer, and delivery/service of Shake Shack along with analyzing their social consequences.

Looking Back at the History of Eating Places

Eating places can be defined as a place where a person consumes food. This includes bistros, cafes, diners, restaurants, lunchrooms and dining rooms. These spaces are often not just places for food consumption for certain groups of people, which tends to complicate their uses. The eating situation plays an important part in life because it creates a “feeling of group belongingness” when people eat together. Outside of food consumption, they are considered places for ideas, fellowship and business. The history of eating places tends to be extremely complicated as it has drastically changed in the past couple of centuries. There has been a major shift from eating places being located in the private sphere to the public sphere. With eating places moving to the public realm, commercial establishments of chain restaurants started to form as well. So, on top of the move to the public sphere, commercial establishments began to make a profit on something natural, people’s cravings and hunger.

Though eating places are looked at as a “public good” because many social movements have started there, they actually fall into the gray area of the black and white public vs. private space. They can be both a public and a private space; it’s all about perspective because space has no “intrinsic status as public or private.” Public spaces are considered to be a place where  people have “the right to gather and discuss, to interact with and debate one’s fellow citizens.” Eating places, with that definition in mind,  have a long history of being private spaces. In fact, take-out, to eat at home, as an abstract idea was widely accepted before dining-in at a restaurant was. Takeout dates back to Ancient Greece, and Rome where people had their food prepared at a thermopolium to have their food taken away to be eaten in the consolidated, private space of a home. Even during the Colonial Era, eating places were exclusively private. Typically the only place people would eat is their own home, in fact, they only dined away for special occasions such as church gatherings, weddings, and funerals. In today’s society, people who only dine out for special occasions are ones who are trying to save money and can’t afford it. So, eating places are a difficult to categorize because, on the one hand, they could be considered a public space because of the vast amounts of consumers, and their location being in “public spaces.” However, on the other hand, eating places outside of one’s home is only for those who can afford it making it “merely an open marketplace of potential transactions, monetary or otherwise, between isolated individuals.”

Eating places typically have an exclusionary atmosphere, in fact, it’s rooted in their history. In the Colonial Era, dining out at an eating place other than one’s home was considered to be exclusive to the wealthy. If we look at the start of the Civil Rights movement in the Post War Era in the United States, we see eating places still were exclusive. The Civil Rights movement started in a whites-only diner located in North Carolina. Four students who attended an all-black technical school protested, and declared they be able to order lunch. Though they were refused, they started the Sit-In Movement during the 1960s. In today’s society, there has been an establishment of a hierarchy of chain restaurants by their affordability, reinforcing the exclusivity of eating places. Whether it’s McDonalds targeting the working class and excluding the lower class, or the dining room within the private realm of one’s home, excluding the homeless. Eating places include consumers (both financial and ecological) and exclude loiterers.

Since Shake Shack falls into this gray area of a public and private space as an eating place we could consider it to be a multi-public model of public space, which is a model that acknowledges there is social difference and exclusion. It was publicized through the commercialization and popularization of dining in through social media. For example, even if a person is simply ordering a meal to-go and may think they’re in the private space of a chain restaurant, because of Shake Shack’s social media presence and its use in their advertising, that person will end up on another customers SnapChat, Instagram, Facebook, etc. Though this may seem like a natural process or normal instance, eating places are a social construct, not something natural, but a produced space. So, it is in Shake Shack’s intention to publicize their private space. On another note, even though the restaurant seems like a public space for public use, as mentioned before, it’s only a public space for consumers. Therefore, the likelihood of a social movement starting at an eating place is extremely low. because businesses are enforcing more private laws, for example, now a person cannot sit down for a meeting with someone at a starbucks because it is considered loitering.

Shake Shack

Architectural Design

Shake Shack’s design started on the back of a napkin and has since extended to what the locations look like today. One interesting point to analyze is the logo and font. Shake Shack’s logo encompasses its signature menu item, the ShackBurger, and the font has a simple and sleek look. Shake Shack’s logo colors are white, black, and lime green; the simplicity of it allows for a modern sensation to surface opposed to places such as historical diners. Its aesthetic is unique to Shake Shack, no other fast food or fine casual restaurant has been able to recreate and generate the same amount of popularity.

The inside look of a Shake Shack also intentionally has a clean and sleek look. Though each individual Shake Shack is constructed differently, one theme that remains architecturally is wrap-around steel beams, open kitchens, and the tables which are made from reclaimed bowling lanes. It’s owners wanted to “embody” the experience a person would get at the Madison Square Park Shake Shack, especially including “the line and the kiosk style” (so yes, even the line is socially constructed at Shake Shack’s). As an eating place it has become a less private space because of the popularity. As mentioned before, on the inside people are constantly advertising Shake Shack and crowded because the space doesn’t fit the vast amount of people that want their service.

Intended consumer

Going back to the history, during the 17th and 18th century, most Colonial Americans did not have a reason to dine in at commercial establishments. This was mainly because dining at taverns, inns, and boarding houses were seen as a “luxury for the wealthy.” The same happens today with eating places. For example, one difference between McDonalds and Shake Shack is their targeted audience. The two have the same American Menu, however, their quality of production, location, and price show us that they’re looking to sell to the upper and middle class, rather than the lower and working class.

It is not unknown that Shake Shack is significantly more expensive than other fast food restaurants. This is for two main reasons, one being that a person is paying for the quality of the food, and the other being that Shake Shack is actually not considered fast food but fine casual food. Shake Shack’s burger is more expensive to create, it’s considered a “premium burger” because it comes directly from raw material supplied by regional slaughterhouses and grinders. Shake Shack also charges separately for each item, there is not a deal on combos. The average price for a ShackBurger is $5.29, $2.99 for fries and $2.30 for a regular sized fountain drink. On top of having extensive pricing, Shake Shack has about 31 domestic locations that are only located in remote areas. Some of Shake Shacks locations include the upper east side of Manhattan, Yale, and downtown Los Angeles. Pricing and location choices like these allude to the fact that Shake Shack’s audience is limited to middle and upper class.


Along with having a similar interior design, the service or delivery of the food at Shake Shack remains consistent through the kiosk style dining. When you order food from Shake Shack you have the option to either order to-go or dine in, and you have the option to dodge the line by downloading the Shake Shack app. Once you have finished placing your order, you are given a buzzer that will notify you when you can pick up your food. The to-go process versus dine-in is not much different, the wait time is about the same. The biggest difference is carrier or tray a person is given to eat their food. Most people do not mind the wait because it gives them time to look over the new or limited edition menu items. There is a sense of speediness, however,  there is not drive through. This is partially because Meyer wanted to recreate the experience of the Madison Square Park Shake Shack of the line, and have a fine casual restaurant space.

So will the next social movement start at a Shake Shack? Probably not. Shake Shacks intended audience is not one who has been racially or socially oppressed (though there would be a good chance of a revolution if Starbucks became illegal). Shake Shack knows their target audience, they know the people who are already included and excluded. Most of their locations are in a remote area and have a rather closed off or inaccessible location for such an event. If there were to be a social movement at a Shake Shack, the first location would be the most likely because it was in a park. However, Madison Square Park has a  public-private partnership and is partially owned by major companies for part of the year. This same partnership is what allowed it to be restored from its time of despair in the early 2000s. Though we may think there is the potential to have a social movement start in a chain restaurant or a commercial establishment, because of the promotion through social media, geofilters, locations, etc. These businesses actually have strict policies concerning times the park location is considered a public space or a private space. These types of restrictions make it close to impossible to start such a movement. Sites like Shake Shack are socially constructed for consumers, not for people protesting. Unfortunately, you’ll have better luck starting a movement in a town square like the colonials than you would at a Shake Shack.



Adamson, Melitta Weiss, and Francine Segan. 2008. Entertaining From Ancient Rome To The Super Bowl. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Chauncey, George. 2014. “Privacy Could Only Be Had in Public”.  In The People, Place, And Space Reader, 202-205. New York: Routledge.

“Form S-1 Shake Shack”. 2014. Sec.Govhttps://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1620533/000104746914010114/a2222577zs-1.htm.

Gieseking, Jen Jack, and William Mangold. 2014. The People, Place, And Space Reader. New York: Routledge.

Iveson, Kurt. 2014. “Putting the Public Back into Public Space”.  In The People, Place, And Space Reader, 187-191. New York: Routledge.

Kingwell, Mark. 2014. “The Prison of ‘Public Space’”.  In The People, Place, And Space Reader, 212-215. New York: Routledge.

Lewin, Kurt. 2014. “Psychological Ecology”. In The People, Place, And Space Reader, 17-21. New York: Routledge.

“Our Story”. 2018. Shakeshack.com. Accessed May 2. https://www.shakeshack.com.

Pillsbury, Richard. 1990. From Boarding House To Bistro. Unwin Hyman: Boston.

“We Shall Not Be Moved: The Jackson Woolworth’s Sit-In and the Movement It Inspired.”

Journal Of Southern History 80, no. 3 (August 2014): 765-766. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed March 1, 2018).

Wolf, Josh. 2014. “The Secret Sauce Of Shake Shack’S Success”. Forbes, 2014. https://www.forbes.com/sites/joshwolfe/2014/01/27/698/#9e6ac3d557d7.


History of the Diner



  1. Pillsbury, Richard. 1990. From Boarding House To Bistro. Unwin Hyman: Boston.
  2. Bell, David, and Gill Valentine. 2013. Consuming Geographies. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.
  3. “Woolworth’s Lunch Counter – Separate Is Not Equal”. 2018. Americanhistory.Si.Edu. http://americanhistory.si.edu/brown/history/6-legacy/freedom-struggle-2.html.
  4. Hurley, Andrew. 2002. Diners, Bowling Alleys, And Trailer Parks. New York: BasicBooks.
  5. Gutman, Richard. 2000. American Diner Then And Now. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  6. Baeder, John. 1979. John Baeder. Wayne, N.J.: William Paterson College of New Jersey.
  7. “The Evolution Of The American Diner: T. H. Buckley- Come Get Your American Dream”. 2018. The Evolution Of The American Diner. http://scalar.usc.edu/works/the-evolution-of-the-american-diner/come-get-your-american-dream.
  8. Offitzer, Karen (2002). Diners. New York, NY: New Line Books. p. 46. ISBN 1-57717-052-0.
  9. Richard J.S. Gutman, The Worcester Lunch Car Company (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2004), 9.
  10. http://photobucket.com/gallery/user/dinerman3/media/bWVkaWFJZDozMDc2NTYxNQ==/?ref=
  11. “Mickey’s Diner | Mnopedia”. 2018. Mnopedia.Org. http://www.mnopedia.org/structure/mickeys-diner.
  12. https://npgallery.nps.gov/pdfhost/docs/NRHP/Text/83000936.pdf
  13. Fitzgerald, John. 2013. “30 Years Ago, Mickey’s Diner Awarded Historic Status”. Minnesota Post, , 2013. https://www.minnpost.com/minnesota-history/2013/03/30-years-ago-mickeys-diner-awarded-historic-status.
  14. Herek, Stephen. 1992. The Mighty Ducks. Film. United States: Buena Vista Pictures.
  15. JLeveant, Brian. 1996. Jingle All The Way. Film. United States: 1492 Pictures.
  16. “Diners, Drive-Ins And Dives”. 2018. Food Network. https://www.foodnetwork.com/shows/diners-drive-ins-and-dives.
  17. https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/30/38/b6/0c96065e47fc4c/US497598.pdf
  18. “American Diner Museum – History And Culture Of The American Diner”. 2018. Americandinermuseum.Org. http://www.americandinermuseum.org/history.php.
  19. “Nighthawks | The Art Institute Of Chicago”. 2018. Artic.Edu. http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/111628.
  20. Zemeckis, Robert. 1985. Back To The Future. Film. United States: Universal Pictures.
  21. “About Us – Denny’s”. 2018. Denny’s. https://web.archive.org/web/20150905235424/https://www.dennys.com/company/about/.
  22. Butko, Brian, Kevin Joseph Patrick, and Kyle R Weaver. 2011. Diners Of Pennsylvania. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books.


Statement for Timeline

I have always had a fascination with diners, I loved the sleek look and breakfast food has been my favorite since I was a child. I never knew the greater history of diners, I just always saw them on TV and assumed they were just like every other average restaurant. Once I started to do research on it, I soon found out I was very wrong. I was surprised to find that diners did not originate in the south as places for great breakfast food, but rather originated in New England as a place for a quick meal in the night. The timeline I decided to create followed the history of diners with a focus on Mickey’s Diner in St. Paul, Minnesota. I chose to track Mickey’s Diner history because it is the most famous diner in the United States. It is often visited by celebrities and has been featured on many films, TV shows, and the food network. Mickeys has been open 24/7 365 days a year since it opened in 1939, which is very unique compared to the number of diners I considered researching. Although I was not able to cover a direct history of Mickey’s Dining car and it’s process, I was able to put together a story of how diners have changed and shifted over time.

One of the main reasons I chose to cover a general history of diners was because of the lack of information on Mickey’s diner. Though this was a unique diner being one of the first in the Midwestern United States, there was very little information about the two men who decided to open Mickey’s which I found to be disappointing. Not being discouraged, I dove into the greater history of diners as eating places opposed to a timeline of two people. What I discovered was that the story of how diners were created was so rich, it was genuinely a service to America’s common man. So I took the approach that Mickey’s was the “common man” of American Diners that shares a history with other diners that operate today or recently went out of business. It started off as Walter Scott creating a place for late night workers to get a bite to eat and snowballed into a mass production of dining cars in the early 1900s. I thought this undercover story was really groundbreaking, Mickey’s Diner was one of thousands of dining cars produced by Jerry O’Mahony Diner Company. So I decided to take it further and further back to when eating at a space outside of a home became a “thing.”

I thought in telling the story like this it made the timeline engage more with the reader. No longer were they reading the history of some random diner located in St. Paul, Minnesota, they were reading the history of how diners changed over time and how they became a part of the social society in the United States. Diners have became a concrete part of American culture, they’re on contemporary TV shows, they’ve been the teen hangout spot since the 1970s, it’s where major social movements were started, and they look really cool in pictures. As Americans we all have a stereotype service at diners, and what our experience will be like at one. What I wanted to do was explain that what Americans see today as something so normal, was physically constructed from basically nothing but an idea. Walter Scott changed the use of a space to fit the need of a service (the wagon to the lunch wagon) and T. H. Buckey saw a profitable business and started mass producing dining cars. The idea of diners being diners was socially constructed. Through understanding the history of Mickey’s Diner and a greater history of diners in America, a viewer is able to see how geographic imagination is in sync with a person’s race, class, gender, sexuality, and sense of embodiment and privilege, thus providing a representation of what America is.

Thymes Have Changed: Biting into the History of Eating Places 

Have you ever taken the time to think about why you eat at the places you eat? Maybe you have a favorite place to eat, or a place that reminds you of your childhood when you eat there. What’s the significance of eating at a restaurant versus at your home?

Eating places are exactly what it sounds like. Places where people consume food. This includes bistros, cafes, diners, restaurants, lunchrooms, and even your dining room. These spaces are often not just places for food consumption. They are places for ideas, fellowship, and business. The history of eating places is extremely complicated and has drastically changed in the past couple of centuries. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about eating places. 

1.) The first fast food restaurant wasn’t mcdonald’s

Historians actually consider the first fast food chain to be a restaurant called White Castle. White Castle was created by Walter Anderson around May 1921, during the roarin’ 20s in Wichita, Kansas. Anderson was not the richest man, but he was an entrepreneur. He decided to refurbish an old shoe repair stand and sell hamburgers for a nickel.[1]

Anderson began to make a profit and was able to eventually partner up with Billy Ingram to create the official White Castle design. Each restaurant or “Castle” had the same layout, with a grill, counter, 5 stools and was staffed by two male employees. The restaurant was known for its impeccable hygiene and speed.[1]

2.) Diners started in the United States

Diners actually evolved from lunch-wagons in the first decades of the 20th century.[2]  A lunch-wagon could be considered an early food truck made from a wagon. Later on, people began to use trolleys, streetcars, and railroad dining cars as a diner which is why the diner’s original style was narrow and elongated.[2]  The original diners were established in the North East of the United States because that is where there was a condensed population. Many diners were transported from New Jersey to other parts of New England, but not much farther out. It was very rare to see the early diner established south of Virginia or west of Ohio because traveling on local roads meant traveling at 10 miles per hour. [2] The streetcar era is what really spread the idea of the American diner we see today.

The menu of the diner stayed simple over time with basic American cuisine. The “true” diner rose around the 1920s; its menu is what most people are familiar with today. [2] This includes hamburgers, french fries, club sandwiches, and breakfast foods. Typically today the interior of a diner will be a rendition of the 1950s/1960s model.[2]

Miss Worchester Diner in Worchester, Massachusetts. Source: Photo via Flickr user Liz West
3.) Most colonial Americans never dined in a restaurant

Most of the Colonial Americans during the 17th and 18th century did not have any reason to dine in at commercial establishments – even if one was available to them. Before the industrial revolution, many colonials lived on farmland. They only traveled away from homes to go to the market or for civic duties. They did dine away from their homes, but only for special occasions such as church gatherings, weddings, funerals and other social events. Dining at taverns, inns, and boarding houses were seen as a luxury for the wealthy. [2]

4.) You’ve been eating wrong your whole life

According to Vivian Brown, author of Table Etiquette in The American Journal of Nursing, “If an individual does not know how to handle a cup of tea or a plate or a fork in an easy…manner [they] will find some opportunities closed to [them].”[3] Brown’s beliefs were not rare during the time she wrote her piece. Most people believed that having proper table manners was directly related to someones lifestyle. Her piece was published in 1933 during the Great Depression. A few of Browns “Nevers” include:

Never stir your tea and leave the spoon still standing.

Never fail to close the lips while you are chewing.

Never prop your weary head upon your forearm.

The video below will provide some more basic table manners.

5.) the white house’s old family dining room was opened to be viewed by the public for the first time in 2015

Michelle Obama who was the First Lady at the time opened the room for public viewing in 2015 through a joint effort with the Committee for the Preservation of the White house. [4] The room was refurbished for the special occasion with 20th century art and design. The history of the room dates back to 1825. A few items in the room include: 1939 ceramic plates, china and glassware; silver tea set manufactured by Graff, Washbourne, and Dun; 1950 pictorial weaving adapted as a wool rug; and New York World’s Fair Tableware.[4]


6.) females eat less and males eat more in mixed company


Date Eating. 2018. Man Eating Woman Watching. Image. https://www.thrillist.com/eat/nation/bad-foods-to-eat-on-dates-thrillist-nation.

According to a study in the Journal of Health Psychology done by scholars Emily Brindal, Carlene Wilson, Philip Mohr and Gary Wittert, males and females change their eating habits in mixed company. The group examined females eating with the same sex, men eating with the same sex, and then a large mixed company setting. Their goal was to discover whether there were multiple social influences in a fast food eating environment. They found that in a larger group females ate less when a male was present, as males in the larger group setting consumed more when a female was present. [5]

They believed this supported a cultural norm of minimal eating for females. Their conclusion derived from the negative judgements around eating fast food, females may have seen eating less as a way to express their femininity. This reasserted the injunctive norm of how women should behave when eating. [5] As for males, they believed their norm was the opposite of minimal eating. One where their consumption was a way for them to assert their masculinity.[5]

7.) THe civil rights movement is believed to have started at a diner

On February 1, 1960 four students who attended an all-black technical school in North Carolina walked into a diner with the intention of ordering lunch. The diner they walked into had a strict whites-only policy, however the men refused to budge, they ended up staying at the counter until closing and brought back 15 more students the next  day.[6]

The Counter At Woolworth’s on May 28, 1963. Blackwell, Fred. 1963. The Counter At Woolworth’S On May 28,1963. Image. http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2013/may/23/real-violence-50-years-ago-woolworth/.

The movement continued to gain traction and reached Jackson, Mississippi where the photo featured took place. In the Mississippi NAACP two large figures, Medgar Evers and Doris Allison were the people who were really at the head of the local movement in Jackson. [7]This particular sector was “radical” and received extreme and severe backlash from their racial counterparts as pictured.[7] Unfortunately, Ever’s was assassinated in June of 1963 and the achievements of the Jackson movement were minimal.[7]

8.) You’re more likely to eat unhealthily if you don’t eat at a designated eating place

A study done by the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California concluded that non-eating places are related to the eating occasions and the type of food consumed there. The study included having participants measure their physical activity through an ActiGraph accelerometer and GPS monitor and have them record all the places they visited and the food the consumed there.[8] Their results showed that people eating in non-eating places  were 1.3 times more likely to eat an unhealthy snack compared to a designated eating place.[8] Non-designated eating places include the couch, in front of a TV and a work space. The study concluded that the reason people were more likely to consume unhealthy foods was because of the vulnerability to convenience. When a person is eating in a non-designated eating place they are most likely looking for the most convenient and accessible food like packaged snacks, vending machine items or fast food.[8]

9.) In 18th century America dining rooms and dining tables weren’t a thing

During this time in America, people had multi-use rooms and typically shared a space. If a family was going to eat a meal, they typically ate in shifts. [2] The idea of the American family dinner developed in the mid-19th century. The dinner table since then has been identified as an important place of socialization or “civilization” of children. [9] It was from the idea of the dining room as a training place for social interaction that eating in moderation, table etiquette, and self-control really became part of American social virtues.[9] From then birthed the stereotypical 1950s happy nuclear family image.[9]

A scene from the TV show Leave It to Beaver. The 1950s emphasized the importance of a happy nuclear family — and in popular media, the dining table often became a place to showcase these idealized dynamics.
10.) the idea of “home” is shaped by eating places

In the book Consuming Geographies, David Bell and Gill Valentine discuss the idea of “Home” and how it has shaped American eating functions. [9]The dinner table also functioned as a way to serve the idea of the American Dream. People began to associate an eating space with the ability to produce a happy family. When a person remembers their childhood home, they also associate that with experiences that were based around an eating space because that is typically the place where the entire family is gathered. For those who didn’t have proper eating places, or did not have an entire family gather at a dinner table, their idea of home is very different from those who did have one.

Family dinner table

 The authors believed the importance of shared meals in the social production of households is further emphasized by the role that food plays in people’s memories of “home.” [9]



[1] Hogan, David G.. 1997. Selling ’em by the Sack : White Castle and the Creation of American Food. New York: NYU Press. Accessed February 28, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central.

[2] Pillsbury, Richard. 1990. From Boarding House To Bistro. Unwin Hyman: Boston.

[3] Brown, Vivian. “Table Etiquette.” The American Journal of Nursing33, no. 11 (1933): 1063-066. doi:10.2307/3411513.

[4] William Allman, “The Old Family Dinging Room Made New Again,: February 10, 2015. http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/02/10/old-family-dining-room-made-new-again Accessed February 19, 2018.

[5] Brindal, Emily, Carlene Wilson, Philip Mohr, and Gary Wittert. 2015. “Eating In Groups: Do Multiple Social Influences Affect Intake In A Fast-Food Restaurant?”. Journal Of Health Psychology 20 (5): 483-489. doi:10.1177/1359105315576607.

[6] “Woolworth’s Lunch Counter – Separate Is Not Equal”. 2018. Americanhistory.Si.Edu. http://americanhistory.si.edu/brown/history/6-legacy/freedom-struggle-2.html.

[7] “We Shall Not Be Moved: The Jackson Woolworth’s Sit-In and the Movement It Inspired.” Journal Of Southern History 80, no. 3 (August 2014): 765-766. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed March 1, 2018).

[8] Liu, Jodi L., Bing Han, and Deborah A. Cohen. 2015. “Associations Between Eating Occasions And Places Of Consumption Among Adults”. Appetite 87: 199-204. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2014.12.217.

[9] Bell, David, and Gill Valentine. 2013. Consuming Geographies. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.