The Army of the Potomac


Professor of History, Emeritus
Roosevelt University

How the


Tuesday, October 15, 2019
5:30 - 8:30 pm
The Lounge at Iwan Ries
19 South Wabash Av.

Cocktails at 5:30, with the presentation at 6:00 for about thirty minutes,
followed by Q&A and general cocktail conversation. 

Reservations with EventBrite Event Support are required.

(Select the green "Tickets" link.)

Professor Kraig writes:

How many people know that what we eat today, and what we buy in our supermarkets, is the result of a war fought 150 years ago?

War is always a catalyst for change, and of all American wars, none changed the country more than the Civil War. That war accelerated trends and currents that were already going on, from economics, to social conditions, and cultural perceptions. For instance, would we have had a Civil War if not for intransigent political leaders who expressed the cultural thought economic forces, and social structures of their various sections of the nation? So, the first war with mass mobilization of men and materiel broke out. And with it came what are now familiar effects: centralization of authority and economies into the hands of governments and larger business entities; technological change and intensification; and new plenty of other political and social ideas percolating through society. All of these have to do with food production because, as Napoleon supposedly said, an army travels on its stomach.

The North won the war because it produced more food (and arms) and organized its distribution better than the South. The ultimate result of all this was massive changes in the way that Americans grew, shipped, and processed food-and, of course, in what they ate. What we eat today can be said to be a direct result of events that unfolded just 150 years ago.

"Whatever you eat, you’re eating history.  Food is the driving force in human history, from changes in early human morphology to human transformation of the natural world.  The whole story of America really comes down to food, its production, and its consumption.  No single culinary creation tells us more about the whole story of world and American food than the submarine-hoagie-grinder-torpedo-zeppelin-bomber-hero-garibaldi-Italian-musalatta sandwich. This talk will be about that world and American history through the deconstruction of that great American creation." 

Bruce Kraig is Professor of History and Humanities, Emeritus, at Roosevelt University, where he taught a wide variety of courses in history, anthropology, and popular culture, and since retiring from Roosevelt he has lectured about food at the culinary school of Kendall College, Chicago.  Professor Kraig has appeared widely in the electronic media as writer and on-camera host and narrator for a multi-award winning PBS series on food and culture around the world. His publications range from books and articles in academic journals on European and world prehistory through American history.  He has written hundreds of articles on food in newspapers, journals and for encyclopedia.  His books about cookery and culinary history include Mexican-American Plain Cooking; The Cuisines of Hidden Mexico; Hot Dog: A Global History; Man Bites Dog: Hot Dog Culture in America; editor Cooking Plain: Illinois Style (2012), co-editor (with Colleen Sen) Street Food Around the World: An Encyclopedia of Food and Culture (2013), co-editor (with Colleen Sen and Carol Haddix) Food City: The Encyclopedia of Chicago Food (2017) and A Rich and Fertile Land (2017). He is the editor of the “Heartland Foodways” book series for the University of Illinois Press.  Professor Kraig holds a BA from UC Berkeley (1962) and MA and PhD degrees from the University of Pennsylvania (1963, 1969).

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“All human history attests That happiness for man,--the hungry sinner!-- Since Eve ate apples, much depends on dinner.”
     --Lord Byron (1788-1824) ‘The Island’, Canto xiii Stanza 99

"Food history is as important as a baroque church. Governments should recognize cultural heritage and protect traditional foods.  A cheese is as worthy of preserving as a sixteenth-century building." 
    --Carlo Petrini, Founder of the Slow Food Movement.

“A soup like this is not the work of one man. It is the result of a constantly refined tradition. There are nearly a thousand years of history in this soup.”
    --Willa Cather, 'Death Comes for the Archbishop' (1927)

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ONE OF THE OLDEST AND greatest traditions of the city clubs of Chicago is the discussion of intellectual, social, legal, artistic, historical, scientific, musical, theatrical, and philosophical issues in the company of educated, bright, and appropriately provocative individuals, all under the beneficent influence of substantial amounts of tobacco and spirits.  The Cigar Society of Chicago embraces this tradition and extends it with its Informal Smokers, University Series lectures, and Cigar Society Dinners, in which cigars, and from time to time pipes and cigarettes, appear as an important component of our version of the classical symposium.  To be included in the Cigar Society's mailing list, write to the secretary at