Cookbooks: 1970s to the Present: Gadget Age

Appears in
Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America

By Andrew F. Smith

Published 2004

  • About
As the economy grew in the late 1980s, people had more disposable income. In addition to buying cookbooks, they enhanced their kitchens with an increasing number of appliances and gadgets: microwave ovens, slow cookers, food processors, blenders, toaster ovens, and woks. As their countertops became more crowded, their bookshelves did, too. New cookbooks soon appeared to help readers learn how to use these tools to make cooking quicker and easier.

An emphasis on grilling grew as Americans bought ever-larger grills and took to their backyards and balconies to cook. Beard was one of the first to publish a grilling book, but in the 1980s and 1990s, a new group of grill-meisters appeared on the scene. Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby wrote The Thrill of the Grill: Techniques, Recipes, and Down-Home Barbecue (1990). Steven Raichlen’s The Barbecue! Bible (1998) kicked off his many successive barbecue titles. Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison’s Smoke and Spice (1994) and Born to Grill: An American Celebration (1998) continued the education of backyard chefs. After 2000, books followed the basic grilling manuals with more specialized topics, such as outdoor smoking and cooking pizza, fish, vegetables and fruit on the grill. Men, especially, took up grilling as their private cooking domain, a trend soon reflected in television commercials and movies.