Food Nation

Va-rice-ity is the Spice of Life (Or, It Was in the 1960s)

There's something about the deer-in-headlights look of the woman in this 1960s-era ad that makes this entire thing more disturbing. Something that says, "My husband will slap me across the face if I don't start coming up with better things to cook for dinner..."

The Houston-based Rice Council of America to the rescue! Did you know you could chop up chives and put them into rice? Bacon? BABIES? Almost anything can be chopped up and fed to this wondrous new beast called rice!

Ah, vintage ads. Do you ever fail to amuse?

That said, domestic rice consumption -- even of the rice we grow right here in Texas -- has always lagged behind that of other "side dish" foods like potatoes and pasta. Yes, pasta. It's no surprise that the Rice Council of America was attempting to get Americans to eat more of their product back in the 1960s, but it's the way they went about it that is so sublimely bizarre.

The Rice Council of that era would probably be quite happy to know that today, the rising populations of both Asians and Hispanics mean that rice consumption is finally experiencing all that long sought-after growth (even if a large majority of that growth is due to rice's inclusion in pet food).

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Katharine Shilcutt