“Fatter Cows, Slimmer Women”

That was how Newsweek described the work of the Cornell University nutrition program in a 1953 article. I’m reviewing notes I took last summer at the Cornell archives, where I was fortunate to be working as the College of Human Ecology Dean’s Fellow. My goal was to trace changing ideas about fat in the American diet, and this article is a perfect illustration of the post-1945 faith in scientific progress. The author praised Cornell’s dairy barns, in which animals were “chock-full of superior feed laced with antibiotics,” and described Dr. McCay’s “Golden Triple Rich Bread,” a wheat bread supplemented with soy flour to provide added protein. Another Cornell professor offered a formula for losing weight, which he tested on Cornell’s co-eds: 90g protein, 80g fat, and 80g carbohydrates daily. Clearly the Atkins diet is nothing new. The proportions of nutrients probably didn’t matter as much as the fact that this diet only amounted to 1400 kcal – not nearly enough to maintain weight in an active adult.

Recipe to bake your own Cornell bread

Source: “Nutrition program at Cornell: Fatter Cows, Slimmer Women,” Newsweek, 13 April 1953. Clipping in box 45, folder 1, 23/2/749, NY State College of Agriculture – Home Economics collection, Cornell University Archives.


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