Since the 19th century, when American magazines for women began to offer expert advice on how to arrange the household correctly, the “kitchen hack” – a tiny unit of advice meant to be used in a unique cooking situation – has been a staple of food media. As the 20th century wore on, the “kitchen hack” became a way for magazines and newspapers to connect readers to one another, and reader-contributed hacks began to populate columns. Today, the practice of sharing these hacks has moved to TikTok and Instagram and become a commercially viable way for influencers to create their personas in these new mediums. Viewed as a still-compiling archive, the kitchen hack becomes a way to see how American cooks have connected with one another. We will end by sharing a few of our own cultural hacks with one another.
Rebecca Onion lives in Athens, Ohio, and writes about culture, history, and ideas for magazines, newspapers, and the Internet. She’s currently a senior editor for Slate.com and has also written for Aeon Magazine, the Boston Globe’s Ideas section, the Virginia Quarterly Review, The Atlantic‘s website, Topic Magazine, the Austin-American Statesman, PBS’ American Experience website, and others. She holds a Ph.D and an MA in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, and a BA in American Studies from Yale University. Her book, Innocent Experiments: Childhood and the Culture of Public Science in the United States, was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2016