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Packaging inner peace: A sociohistorical exploration of nerve food in Great Britain

O'Hagan, Lauren Alex ORCID: 2019. Packaging inner peace: A sociohistorical exploration of nerve food in Great Britain. Food and History 17 (2)
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This paper explores the phenomenon of ‘nerve food’ – a concept created by advertisers in the late nineteenth century to sell products following greater studies into anxiety and nervousness. Adopting a sociohistorical approach to the theoretical perspective of social semiotics, it presents and analyses eight examples of British nerve food advertising to track its chronological development over time. It finds that advertisers capitalised upon national concerns of time, whether related to neurasthenia, shellshock, neuralgia or the Blitz, to construct a particular discourse that persuaded consumers that nerve food would improve their mental health or the health of their loved ones. It also discovered that, although nerve food no longer exists, contemporary food advertising is still generally guided by many of the strategies identified in this study, such as celebrity endorsements and customer claims, emotive and manipulative advertising, value-laden language, colour, pseudoscience, corporate-charity partnerships and philanthropical deeds. Overall, it aims to promote the message that we as customers must be prepared to challenge food advertising and be aware of the myths that it can create in order to become empowered and make informed choices about supposedly healthy products.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Publisher: Brepols
ISSN: 1780-3187
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 22 November 2019
Date of Acceptance: 12 November 2019
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2023 08:07

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