No Taste for Industry

Illustration from The Soda Fountain: An Illustrated Monthly Publication for the Soda Fountain Trade (1922)

Sometime in 1910, renowned opera singer Feodor Chaliapin returned to his native Russia after completing a season with New York’s Metropolitan Opera. His homecoming he capped with an audience with Nicholas II of Russia. Chaliapin reports having had with the tsar the following exchange:

Czar: “I have heard the American kitchen is miserable. All the foods are prepared on a big scale and they have no individual taste or flavor. Is that true?”

Chaliapin: “Yes, Your Majesty, that it true. They have a flavor of American corporations and speculation.”

Czar: “That I think is the drawback of the American conditions as far as I have heard. The trusts can manufacture iron and other industrial things on a big scale, but when it comes to the manufacture of food, there the commercial methods fail. As far as I have heard, they have commercialized literature and art, restaurants and homes. A man has to eat what the trust gives and has to be content with a home that another trust furnishes.”