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Chop Suey, USAThe Story of Chinese Food in America$
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Yong Chen

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231168922

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231168922.001.0001

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The Makers of American Chinese Food

The Makers of American Chinese Food

(p.102) 6 The Makers of American Chinese Food
Chop Suey, USA

Yong Chen

Columbia University Press

The rise to prominence of American Chinese food in turn-of-the-century markets was shaped by the interplay between Chinese restaurant owners and their non-Chinese consumers. This chapter first describes several groups—the so-called slummers, African Americans, and Jews—who provided an indispensable customer base for the expanding Chinese restaurants. The slummers were the adventurous and rebellious city youths who went to Chinatown restaurants to eat and cultivate a social space for themselves. African Americans were attracted to Chinese restaurants because they were one of the few public places that welcomed them. Chinese restaurants were also popular among Jews because they used much less dairy food; stayed open on Sundays and Christmas Day; and had no Christian iconography and no anti-Semitic antagonism. The remainder of the chapter discusses the creative and effective roles of Chinese Americans in the making of America's Chinese food.

Keywords:   American Chinese food, Chinese restaurants, Chinese American food provides, clientele, customer base, slummers, African Americans, Jews

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