The Culinary Legacy of U.S. Invasions



Mexican-American War

During the war, U.S. forces prohibited Mescalero Apaches, who lived in what is now southern New Mexico, from consuming corn because the tribe used it to brew tiswin, an alcoholic beverage. Instead, occupied peoples were given cornmeal, which subsequently became a staple in the diet of many Mexicans.

World War II Europe

Hershey made a fortune churning out millions of so-called Ration D chocolate bars — they were harder and not nearly as sweet as typical bars — for G.I.s to hand out to German kids. After the war, the ersatz chocolate bars were said to have fueled European demand for the real thing.

Postwar Japan

Mrs. Douglas MacArthur apparently felt strongly that schoolchildren in Japan, which her husband effectively ruled after World War II, needed more American-style nutrition. Schools (funded by the U.S. government) started providing youngsters with a glass of milk, a few slices of white bread, and a bowl of chili.

Postwar Korea

Large numbers of hungry Koreans took advantage of stocks of canned food left on U.S. Army bases — including Spam and hot dogs — and included these newfound goodies in their traditional soup known as jjigae. The reconfigured broth was dubbed Budae jjigae, or army-base stew.


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