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No best before date - An archival perspective on food

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by Tara Kimura, CBCnews.ca

Ever wonder when pizza became a mainstream dish in Canada? Or ponder who invented the lobster supper? The answers can be found clicking through CBC's robust Digital Archive site, which features archived radio and television reports.

There, a reader will uncover an ode to poutine, the debate over genetically modified food, a showcase of Canadian food and a feature on the country's growing wine industry.

The site, which recently underwent a redesign, was honoured this month with an EPpy award, presented by Editor and Publish and Mediaweek for the best use of video in a website.

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The CBC Archives site launched in 2002 and features the best CBC Television and CBC Radio reporting over the decades. (CBC)

For five years I had the great pleasure of working on the site as a writer, seeking out old treasured clips with the talented archivists. Some of my favourite food-related reports, collected and compiled by a team of researchers, include the following:


  • Father Denis Gallant, of P.E.I, claiming to be the mastermind behind the lobster supper in 1988.
  • Colonel Harland Sanders, the founder of the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise, spouting off about "plumb tasteless" Canadian fare in 1957.
  • Homemaker Mrs. Brady, also in 1957, demonstrating how to make a delicious new dish gaining popularity in the U.S. called the pizza pie.
  • A 1947 radio report on school children protesting a three-cent candy bar price hike.
  • A 1950 report on fondu etiquette and the "art of dunking".
  • A feature on the growth of the donut empire Tim Hortons.

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A homemaker featured in the CBC Archives website chats about a new meal called the pizza pie. (CBC)

Dig a little deeper into the site and you'll find author Mordecai Richler talking about bad Canadian wines as they relate to NAFTA.

And in contrast to today's buy local movement, a 1947 radio report discusses the wonders of feasting on avocados flown in from Jamaica, cheese from France and steak from Texas.

Take a peek at the site and tell us about your favourite food reports on the site.

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Food Bytes »



About the blog

From trends and culture to politics and nutrition, Food Bytes serves up tasty tidbits about food and the issues surrounding it that flavour our everyday lives.

About the writers

Amber Hildebrandt Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.

Andrea Chiu Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.

Tara Kimura Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.

Andree Lau Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).

Jessica Wong Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.

Kevin Yarr Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.

Elizabeth Bridge Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.

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