The Food That Built America Recap for Lunchbox Legends

The Food That Built America Recap for Lunchbox Legends

The Food That Built America Recap for Lunchbox Legends

The Food That Built America is back with an all-new episode. This week, we focus on lunch foods.

-After WWII, elementary schools were growing in population. They now needed to focus not only on educating the kids, but feeding them. School lunches were not always readily available, so kids would bring lunch from home. However, these foods were also unappealing, since they often contained leftovers from the previous night’s dinner.

-By the 1950s, sandwiches became more popular, particularly peanut butter and jelly. The Kraft brothers wanted in on the action by bringing cheese into the future…namely, prepackaged sliced cheese. The goal was to use it to make sandwiches next level. At the time, cheese wasn’t pre sliced, so it made it difficult to put on sandwiches.

-Making the pre sliced cheese was difficult, so the people at Kraft experimented with ways to make it work. They finally put it on sheets and cut it into uniform pieces. Thus, Kraft Singles was born.

-However, since it just looked like a block of cheese, the initial idea flopped. It was back to square one, no pun intended.

-Louis Shalhoub was working in his father’s bakery making sweets, particularly amardeen, which was a sweet apricot treat. He had big dreams after serving in the military and wanted to do more than work in a bakery.

-Before the snack comes to be, Louis continues to work. At the time, their amardeen was having issues with delivery due to political upheaval in Lebanon and Syria, so he decided to make it on his own. He has issues with it at first, but sees a way to cut it and sell it in individual pieces. He decides to find a way to make it in bulk and get the ball rolling.

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-Kraft is still having issues with the sliced cheese…..until a piece falls on a piece of plastic. This gives them a new idea to wrap each slice individually.

-Louis puts the family business aside and focuses on perfecting his fruit treat. He also calls it Joray in honor of his sons Joseph and Ray. It goes on sale and is available in a variety of flavors.

-Joray is a hit and Louis decides to take the snack national.

-Back at Kraft, the crew tries to find a way to make sliced cheese a reality. At first, the company is apprehensive about the idea of prewrapped cheese slices, but it finally goes on sale in 1965.

-Sandwiches are now made with cheese, making sandwiches next level delicious. Sadly, Norman Kraft died two years after the invention of Kraft Singles and is unable to see it become a multi-billion-dollar food.

-As sandwiches become a staple in school lunches, parents want more things to give their kids for a balanced meal.

-Louis meets with a trade magazine to make Joray a national treat. However, he gives away too many of his ideas, which ultimately get stolen by a competitor.

-General Mills gets wind of the fruit snack and invents the Fruit Roll Up. Louis is upset with this turn of events and vowed to never do any more press.

-Louis decides to change his focus and make his snacks kosher. They are still available in kosher markets today and still made by hand in the very same bakery in Brooklyn.

-Thanks to this initial fruit snack, several more were invented by different companies, many bite sized and featuring cartoon characters to appeal to kids.

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-Oscar Mayer, known for hot dogs and bologna, is struggling due to people not eating as much processed meats. Determined to get back on track, Bob Drain takes over.

-Since more women are trading in homemaking for careers in the 1980s, there is less time to make lunches for the kids. Bob explains his idea of evolution and thinks that there is an answer for their problem. It isn’t until one worker is eating a TV dinner that he gets his idea…Lunchables. The team gets to work to make this idea off the ground, but it is more difficult than they anticipated. Bob pivots his idea and decides to use crackers instead of bread for sandwiches. He thinks kids might like the idea of having the cracker by itself or to make into ‘sandwiches’ with the meat.

-The idea is a hit! Families also loved the convenience and kids loved the idea of making their own lunches.

-Despite the success, the company is still in debt due to the production of Lunchables. The company decides to find a way to make production cheaper, but that means raising prices. To justify this, they add a new drink to the mix…a Capri Sun! All is right with the world (or Oscar Mayer) again!

-Several other versions came out, including pizza, hot dogs, burgers and tacos. A breakfast version was also invented in 1999.

-Lunchables is now worth billions. There are also several versions of cheeses and foods to make lunch a delicious, delightful experience.

-More next week, stay tuned.

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