Klobuchar’s hot dish and Warren’s heart-shaped cakes soothe our unfounded fear of women in officeRoundup
tags: political history, Elizabeth Warren, 2020 Election, Amy Klobuchar
Stacy J. Williams researches food and feminism and has a PhD in Sociology from UC San Diego.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar emerged from Iowa and New Hampshire as a serious contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination. That came on the heels of a New York Times headline focused not on her speeches or debates but on her bid to attract supporters through her cooking. The Times reported that Klobuchar’s “Taconite Tater Tot Hot Dish” — a layered dish of ground beef, tater tots and pepper jack — was the star attraction of her campaign events.
While this may seem surprising, it is actually fairly typical, even in 2020. Many have interpreted Klobuchar’s “Hot Dish House Parties” and other female candidates’ cooking — including Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s heart-shaped cakes in remembrance of her mother and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s rolled chocolate cookies — as attempts at relatability. But the centuries-long history of women using cooking in politics shows us that something more is going on. When female activists and candidates pick up the mixing spoon, they are fighting America’s knee-jerk reaction to women who step up and run for office.
As female suffragists pushed for the vote more than a century ago, their opponents spread stereotypes that suffragists would abandon their homes, wailing children and hungry husbands. To counter this idea, suffragists tied on their aprons, rolled up their sleeves and got to work.
In 1915 in Rochester, N.Y., activist Jane Thomson cooked chocolate cake and biscuits in a storefront window and passed out samples to hundreds of onlookers. One man reportedly ate a whole cake and 20 biscuits. As he tucked another cake under his arm to take home, he endorsed suffragists by telling a reporter: “They all can sure cook.” After Thomson clapped the flour from her hands, she delivered a speech that suffragists described as “proof that cookery and civics do not interfere with each other.”
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