Packaged Pleasures: How Technology And Marketing Revolutionized Desire

Hardcover | September 30, 2014

byGary S. Cross, Robert N. Proctor

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From the candy bar to the cigarette, records to roller coasters, a technological revolution during the last quarter of the nineteenth century precipitated a colossal shift in human consumption and sensual experience.  Food, drink, and many other consumer goods came to be mass-produced, bottled, canned, condensed, and distilled, unleashing new and intensified surges of pleasure, delight, thrill—and addiction.

In Packaged Pleasures, Gary S. Cross and Robert N. Proctor delve into an uncharted chapter of American history, shedding new light on the origins of modern consumer culture and how technologies have transformed human sensory experience.  In the space of only a few decades, junk foods, cigarettes, movies, recorded sound, and thrill rides brought about a revolution in what it means to taste, smell, see, hear, and touch.  New techniques of boxing, labeling, and tubing gave consumers virtually unlimited access to pleasures they could simply unwrap and enjoy. Manufacturers generated a seemingly endless stream of sugar-filled, high-fat foods that were delicious but detrimental to health.  Mechanically rolled cigarettes entered the market and quickly addicted millions.  And many other packaged pleasures dulled or displaced natural and social delights. Yet many of these same new technologies also offered convenient and effective medicines, unprecedented opportunities to enjoy music and the visual arts, and more hygienic, varied, and nutritious food and drink. For better or for worse, sensation became mechanized, commercialized, and, to a large extent, democratized by being made cheap and accessible. Cross and Proctor have delivered an ingeniously constructed history of consumerism and consumer technology that will make us all rethink some of our favorite things.

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From the candy bar to the cigarette, records to roller coasters, a technological revolution during the last quarter of the nineteenth century precipitated a colossal shift in human consumption and sensual experience.  Food, drink, and many other consumer goods came to be mass-produced, bottled, canned, condensed, and distilled, unleash...

Gary S. Cross is distinguished professor of modern history at Pennsylvania State University and the author of many books, including An All-Consuming Century: Why Commercialism Won in Modern America and The Playful Crowd: Pleasure Places in the Twentieth Century.  Robert N. Proctor is professor of history of science at Stanford Universi...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.2 inPublished:September 30, 2014Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226121275

ISBN - 13:9780226121277

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

1. The Carrot and the Candy Bar
2. Containing Civilization, Preserving the Ephemeral, Going Tubular
3. The Cigarette Story
4. Superfoods and the Engineered Origins of the Modern Sweet Tooth
5. Portable Packets of Sound: The Birth of the Phonograph and Record
6. Packaging Sight: Projections, Snapshots, and Motion Pictures
7. Packaging Fantasy: The Amusement Park as Mechanized Circus, Electric Theater, and Commercialized Spectacle
8. Pleasure on Speed and the Calibrated Life: Fast Forwarding through the Last Century
9. Red Raspberries All the Time?
 
Notes
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Packaged Pleasures contributes to what we know by combining a range of case studies rather than conducting a deep dive into any one technological story. The larger story helps us think about unintended consequences—such as overconsumption, obesity, and cancer—and the relationship between technology, marketing, and public policy. Aimed at a broad readership, the authors hope to spur change, noting that ‘We need to recognize what the package has done for us, but also to us, and to look for pleasures beyond its confines.’”