Tag Archives: food

The Harry and Reba Swiff Collection: Family Celebrations (1956-1958)

Watch on Texas Archive of the Moving Image

Institution: Texas Archive of the Moving Image
Collection: Harry and Reba Swiff Collection

Running time: 16m 30s
Source film:  color; silent
Year: 1956 – 1958
Camera: Harry Swiff


When I was young — particularly during adolescence — the holiday season from roughly October through January seemed to unfold as a series of discrete events, each celebration marked by its own sights, smells, sounds, and flavors. The rest periods between them (i.e., school) always crawled at a snail’s pace, allowing the anticipation for each to build to proper crescendo. In adulthood, though, that illusion has eroded with each passing year. These same holidays now occur as a blurry blob of celebratory activity, with beginnings and endings almost entirely indistinguishable if not for the correlating bank statements and smartphone images that neatly divide by monthly markers.

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Maple Sugar Time (1941)

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Institution: Library and Archives Canada
Collection: Metropolitan Toronto Library Board fonds, 1987-0337

Other title: Le Temps des Sucres
Running time: 8m 14s
Source film:  16mm; color; sound
Year: 1941
Director: Stanley Hawes
Production: National Film Board of Canada; Northern Electric Recording (sound)
Camera: Michael Spencer
Editor: Donald Fraser
Music: Maurice Blackburn


As a news topic, maple syrup has undergone an odd resurgence in recent years. The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers — a Canadian organization dedicated to controlling the province’s output and stabilizing its price — has been criticized in the press due to borderline-draconian treatment of producers it considers delinquents. The price stability has been correlated to increased syrup production in the northeast U.S., thereby decreasing Quebec’s market share over the past several years. Thieves were caught stealing $18 million worth of syrup from a federation warehouse between 2011 and 2012. Last we heard, Jason Segel — of Freaks & Geeks and The Muppets fame — is attached to star in the film about the sticky-sweet heist. You don’t see this sort of press attention for honey (unless it’s related to bee colony collapse disorder).

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A Cruel Kindness (1968)

Watch on Wellcome Library

Institution: Wellcome Library
Collection: Moving Image and Sound Collection

Running time: 13m 4s
Source film:  16mm; color; sound
Year: 1968
Director: Winifred Holmes
Production: Verity Films; Oswalk Skilbeck; Film Producers Guild; Film Centre International Ltd; British Life Assurance Trust for Health Education; British Medical Association
Writer: Winifred Holmes
Photography: Jonah Jones
Editor: Anthony Ham


Nutritional guides have been prone to wild fluctuations and rearrangements over the past several decades, vary sharply by country, and have been influenced by everything from scientific studies and wartime rationing to the agriculture industry and food prices. Thank goodness for 1968’s A Cruel Kindness, then, which makes such a guide as basic as can be. According to writer/director Winifred Holmes’s film, the three food groups are carbohydrates (“energy”), fat (“warmth”), and protein (“for growth”). And sometimes, small quantities of vitamins. The filmmakers make no effort to explain what benefits this last group provides, likely because no documentary team wants to bore viewers with a discussion about watercress. We get it — it’s really good for you! Enough already, watercress. You’re almost as insufferable as kale.

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