Joseph Priestley Society Luncheon: Nadia Berenstein: “Making It Delicious: The Science of Flavor and the Industrialization of Food in the United States, 1900–1960”


Flavor additives are inescapable in our food system. But what are they, and where did they come from? Image: CHF Collections.

Date: April 9, 2015
Time: 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Event Type: Open to the Public
Fee: $25
RSVP Online: Registration Required

Please note: Anthony Stonis, the speaker originally scheduled for this event, is unable to join us on April 9. If you already registered and wish to cancel your reservation, please contact Nancy Vonada, manager of events and donor relations, at 215.873.8226 or

In this talk CHF fellow Nadia Berenstein will examine how chemical additives designed to imitate, enhance, and improve flavor made their way into the U.S. food supply. She will recount several episodes in the history of flavor additives, from the beginning of the 20th century to the 1950s, telling the stories of the people and companies who made flavors, the food manufacturers who used them, and the people who consumed them. Berenstein will consider how scientific and technological knowledge about flavor and its chemical and sensory properties reshaped the scientific, legal, and cultural meanings of “pure,” “natural,” and “artificial” in the first half of the 20th century, transforming the food we eat and the ways we experience it.

  About the Event

The Joseph Priestley Society (JPS) lecture series explores topics in science, technology, and industry through professional networking receptions and lectures by industry leaders.

More information

For more information about this event, please contact Sarah Reisert, awards program manager, at 215.873.8263 or

Boyle Society members receive complimentary admission!

Robert Boyle Society members: To register yourself and up to four guests free of charge, please contact Nancy Vonada, manager of events and donor relations, at 215.873.8226 or

  Event Schedule

Thursday, April 09, 2015

11:30 a.m.

Networking reception

12:15 p.m.


1:00 p.m.

Keynote address

  About the Keynote

“Contains natural and artificial flavors.” Grab nearly any item off the shelf at your local grocery store, and you’re almost certain to find some variation of these words on the package. But what are these flavors, where do they come from, and what makes some of them “natural” and others not? Flavor additives are inescapable in our food system, and just as their components are often mysterious or mischaracterized, the history of these specialty chemicals remains largely untold.

 Speaker Biographies

Nadia Berenstein is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. A 2014−2015 Haas Fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation, she is currently completing a dissertation about the history of flavor science in the United States. She has also received dissertation research funding from the University of Pennsylvania and from the Hagley Museum and Library. She holds a BA from Harvard College and an MA from New York University. You can learn more about her ongoing research on her blog, “Flavor Added,” or follow her on Twitter @thebirdisgone.

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