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Making Italian AmericaConsumer Culture and the Production of Ethnic Identities$
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Simone Cinotto

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823256235

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823256235.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FORDHAM SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Fordham University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FSO for personal use.date: 28 September 2021

We Are Family

We Are Family

Ethnic Food Marketing and the Consumption of Authenticity in Italian-Themed Chain Restaurants

(p.244) 14 We Are Family
Making Italian America

Fabio Parasecoli

Fordham University Press

By deconstructing advertisements and décor from Italian-themed chain restaurants, such as Maggiano’s Little Italy, Bertucci’s, and Olive Garden, the chapter proposes that “eating the Italian other” today in these Italian-themed environments accounts for the consumption of a hyperreal simulacrum of Italian American life. In the chain restaurants the chapter analyzes authenticity is a “product”—a company strategy carefully crafted with the methodology of postmodern pastiche. These establishments refer to traditions from Italy, its past, and the nostalgia it often elicits to promote a recognizable brand to large audiences and market a specific aspect of contemporary American popular culture: casual dining chain restaurants. The Italian American culinary heritage is invented—or at least recreated—and charged with relevant emotional and symbolic connotations as a marketable experience to respond to contemporary preferences and imaginations.

Keywords:   chain restaurants, themed environments, taste, consumer culture, Italian Americans, ethnic food, Italian food, restaurants, ethnicity, authenticity

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