History Hangout: Conversation with Ai Hisano

History Hangout: Conversation with Ai Hisano

Visualizing Taste: How Business Changed the Look of What You Eat

 

Roger Horowitz interviews Ai Hisano about her recent book, Visualizing Taste: How Business Changed the Look of What You Eat (Harvard University Press, 2019). Hisano, a senior lecturer at Kyoto University, used Hagley materials about DuPont’s Cellophane in her research.

In Visualizing Taste Hisano explores how our perceptions of what food should look like have changed over the course of more than a century. By examining the development of color-controlling technology, government regulation, and consumer expectations, Hisano demonstrates that scientists, farmers, food processors, dye manufacturers, government officials, and intermediate suppliers have created a version of “natural” that is, in fact, highly engineered. Retailers and marketers have used scientific data about color to stimulate and influence consumers’—and especially female consumers’—sensory desires, triggering our appetites and cravings.

The book received the Hagley Prize from the Business History Conference.