What do cotton candy, the hot dog, the hamburger, peanut butter, Dr.Pepper, iced tea, and the ice cream cone have in common?
These represent a range of some of the food products first unveiled to the public on a large scale at the 1904 World’s Fair held in the American city of Saint-Louis. If this city of the state of Missouri found itself to be the epicenter of this food innovation hub, we note that, one thing leading to another, it took a good fifty years for these products to forge an important place in Quebec consumer habits.
Going back to the archives of these world’s fairs (because it wasn’t only Expo 67 that changed the face of our society) illustrates a more nuanced pulse of what we now consider to be cultural appropriation, but also points out that innovations are born in contexts of openness and social acceptance that are very different from one another.
Basically, would cotton candy have had the same success if it saw the light of day today as part of an World’s Fair in Saint-Louis? Would we have openly criticized this treat as being too artificial? Would it have taken over as the fruit of molecular gastronomy, then would its reign have fallen into disuse like many of the precursors of this wave? But still, would placing a scoop of ice cream in a waffle cone instead of a plastic container prove to be today more of an eco-responsible alternative, rather than an addition considered superfluous in the eyes of certain critics, that the cone had to endure in 1904?