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Supermarket USAFood and Power in the Cold War Farms Race$
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Shane Hamilton

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780300232691

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300232691.001.0001

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Socialist Supermarkets and “Peaceful Competition”

Socialist Supermarkets and “Peaceful Competition”

(p.97) 4 Socialist Supermarkets and “Peaceful Competition”
Supermarket USA

Shane Hamilton

Yale University Press

This chapter focuses on Eastern Europe, highlighting the ways in which the communist contestants in the Farms Race pursued noncapitalist goals in the economic battles of the Cold War. Supermarket USA—a project jointly pursued by the U.S. Department of Commerce and a private supermarket trade group in 1957—was the first full-scale American-style supermarket to be erected in a communist country. U.S. propagandists touted the Supermarket USA exhibit at Zagreb’s 1957 trade fair as proof of the power of capitalist agriculture and efficient food distribution. Yugoslavian communist leaders, however, recognized the potential for deploying supermarkets in their campaign to convince restive rural peasants to accept socialist approaches to food production. The Yugoslavian adaptation of American supermarkets contrasts with the Soviet Union’s efforts, under the leadership of the rhetorically gifted Nikita Khrushchev, to defy American proclamations of capitalism’s superiority as a mode for spurring agricultural productivity and consumer abundance. In particular, the chapter highlights the ways in which the famous 1959 Kitchen Debate between Khrushchev and U.S. vice president Richard Nixon should be understood as a debate not just about kitchens or consumerism but about the structure of the agricultural systems that fed into both capitalist and communist kitchens.

Keywords:   Supermarket USA, American National Exhibition, Sokolniki Park, Moscow, Yugoslavia, Soviet Union, Kitchen Debate, Socialism, Nikita Khrushchev, Marshal Tito

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