A spectacular 360 degree tour of the American West - spanning the Sunset Strip to the Grand Canyon - viewed on eleven screens in a giant circular theater. First-time visitors must've been utterly bowled-over by the effect.
But that's not why I've brought you here today. Oh, no. We're going to find another wonder of early Tomorrowland: the FOODARAMA!
Got your ticket?
As your eyes adjust to the indoor lighting, here's our first view of the theater. Not quite what you expected? Yep, there really are five automobiles parked in here! All sparkly fresh 1955 models by American Motors. But what's really surprising is the absence of ropes or stanchions protecting the displays! Evidently, people of the Fifties were well-behaved and respectful of everything.
Moving to the center of the room, we pass a sporty two-door Metropolitan within our reach. (Well, what do you know... there are fingerprints all over it!)
Glancing back at the entrance, half of the room looks like a Nash dealership...
...while the other half resembles an appliance center!
Let's look around. Try to resist the temptation to tug door handles, or twist the knobs on the washing machines, okay?
And *Gasp* there it is! The fabulous new FOODARAMA by Kelvinator!!
The Rolls Royce of Refrigerators
The "last word in foodkeeping," the futuristic FOODARAMA can hold 166 pounds of meat in its freezer, has a handy Breakfast Bar for eggs and bacon and 2 pitchers of juices, Cheese and Butter Chests, an aluminum foil dispenser, and even an unrefrigerated bin for bananas!
Imagine that! A special bin in your refrigerator that is unrefrigerated! Now that's something!
And the FOODARAMA offers much more. You see, not everybody here in the 1950s can afford a kitchen full of Kelvinator appliances like Donna Reed or June Cleaver have on television. A quarter of American families in 1955 (approximately 50 million people) were poor working class folks - people who had saved their way through the war, and not terribly long before that, had faced the hard times of the Depression.
Extravagances such as the FOODARAMA embodied optimism for a tomorrow stuffed to the rafters with bountiful plenty. Even Richard Nixon, in his famous 1959 "kitchen debate" with Nikita Khrushev, asserted that the superiority of capitalism over communism was not in ideology or military might but in the comforts of the suburban home, "designed to make things easier for our women."
Author Stephanie Coontz in her excellent book The Way We Never Were comments, "Acceptance of domesticity was the mark of middle-class status and upward mobility." By the mid-fifties the "glorification of self-indulgence" in family life was at the center of the postwar American dream.
Okay, shush now, everybody. The movie is about to start, and it's a good one!
As the lights begin to fade, I wonder...will the little light inside the FOODARAMA stay on?