A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 26, 2008
Junk Food

"Junk food” became a popular term in the 1970s for the fast food and sweets in the American diet. New York magazine food critic Gael Greene frequently used “junk food” from at least 1971 and believed that she had coined the term. It had also been believed that Michael Jacobsen, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, had coined “junk food” in 1972.

There are “junk food” citations starting from at least 1952.


Wikipedia: Junk Food
Junk food is an informal term applied to some foods with little or no nutritional value, or to products with nutritional value but which also have ingredients considered unhealthy when regularly eaten, or to those considered unhealthy to consume at all. The term was coined by Michael Jacobson, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, in 1972.

Factors contributing to labeling as junk food are high levels of refined sugar, white flour, trans fat and saturated fat, salt, and additives such as preservatives and coloring agents. And let’s not forget good taste! Others include lack of proteins, vitamins, fiber and other nutrients for a healthy diet.

Some fast food is popular because it is inexpensive and resistant to spoilage. These products may also be popular with consumers because they are widely available, require little preparation, and are easy or especially fun to consume. Junk food is associated with health problems including obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and dental cavities. Problems with fast food may not be apparent to children, hence advertising aimed at children has come under criticism.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Main Entry: junk food
Function: noun
Date: 1960
1 : food that is high in calories but low in nutritional content
2 : something that is appealing or enjoyable but of little or no real value

(Oxford English Dictionary)
junk food orig. U.S., food that appeals to popular (esp. juvenile) taste but has little nutritional value; also fig
1973 Washington Post 9 Mar. A27/5 How many children are going to fill up on *junk foods and be too full to eat a nutritious lunch now?
1974 Ottawa Citizen 24 July 52/3 Canadians’ consumption of..junk food is alarming.
1982 Times 12 Aug. 6/6 Blyton may be junk food but it’s not addictive.
1986 Times 4 Mar. 10/5 The eastern cult for junk food may be having a remarkable effect on the health and appearance of Japan’s youngsters.

22 November 1948, Ogden (UT) Standard-Examiner, pg. 5A, cols. 2-3:
Dr. Brady’s Health Column
More Junk Than Food

(...)
For one thing, she has not regular elimination, and like most children today, she eats more junk than food. (Mrs. R. D. H.)

From the casual data the mother gives I am unable to surmise what the child’s trouble may be. is it, perhaps smouldering tuberculosis? The mother might well take the child to the place designated by the local health department or health officer for X-ray film of lungs—everybody’s doing it now, just to be on the safe side.

Proceeding on the assumption that daughter is ten, twenty or thirty years old and that her health is not as good as it should be, it is likely that the “junk” she eats instead of food accounts for much or all of her trouble.

What Mrs. H calls “junk” I call cheat food. That is anything made principally of (1) white flour and or (2) refined white sugar or syrup. For example, white bread, crackers, cake, candy, ice cream soda, chocolate malted, sundaes, sweetened carbonated beverages. These are all pretty nourishing stuff, full of calories (the calories coming mainly from the white flour starch and sugar in them), but they tend to make you flabby, dull and dumpy.

28 July 1952, Lima (OH) News, pg. 6, cols. 3-4:
Candy, Cake, “Junk Foods”
Cause Serious Malnutrition

By WILLIAM BRADY, M.D.
(...)
For one thing, she has not regular elimination, and like most children today she eats more junk than food. (Mrs. R. D. H.)

Proceeding on the assumption that daughter is 10, 20, 30 years old and that her health is not as good as it should be, it is likely that the “junk” she eats instead of food accounts for much or all of her trouble.

WHAT MRS. H. calls “junk” I call cheat food. That is anything made principally of (1) white flour and or (2) refined white sugar or syrup. For example, white bread, crackers, cake, candy, ice cream soda, chocolate malted, sundaes, sweetened carbonated beverages.

12 June 1960, Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, UT), “Don Valentine’s Nothing Serious, pg. B1, col. 1:
No junk food. No popcorn for breakfast, no pop, no candy bars, no corn crackles or lemon malted milks.

1 September 1960, Washington (DC) Post, pg. C10:
“In his book, ‘Eat, Live and be Merry,’ nutritionist Carlton Fredericks points out that ‘half the protein in the adult diet should come from animal sources—that is, eggs, milk, cheese, meat and fish. Children should receive two-thirds of their protein from animal sources, with milk and eggs the prime sources and meat, fish and fowl second.

“It is too bad that protein is the most costly element of a good diet—especially so for the lower-income families. The simple answer, I think, is to cut out practically all of the junk foods (soda pop, cookies, etc.), thereby saving money to purchase better foods.’”

25 June 1967, Washington (DC) Post, pg. L1:
Food at Expo ranges from rare delights that one might think exist only in a gourmet’s fancy to the greasy junk food found at a local ballpark or carnival.

Google Books
22 November 1971, New York magazine, “The Paella Perplex” by Gael Greene, pg. 90, col. 2:
Junk food fans will stick to Chilean chicken empanadillos ($4) and the mexican combination ($5). 

Google Books
17 April 1972, New York magazine, “Fuel for the Passionate Shopper” by Gael Greene, pg. 90, col. 1:
No hysteria here, no junk food freakouts.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Friday, December 26, 2008 • Permalink