Food in Fiction is an article about how people use food from novels to better connect with the characters. The creators of Inn at the Crossroads talk about the use of food in the Game of Thrones series. Just so you know, I would rather eat horse heart than lamprey pie. Eww. Other book series mentioned are The Boxcar Children and Little House on the Prairie.
In a more health-conscious, and less active age, it's hard to imagine eating that way, or needing to eat that way because you're burning so many calories through physical labor--and it's hard to imagine what it must be like to do the kind of work the characters in the Little House books do without reliably having enough to eat. But even though cooking her way through Little House recipes revealed Laura Ingalls Wilder's fantasies, and even though Ma's vanity cakes turned out to be just fairgrounds-variety fried dough, McClure says there was something powerful about eating the food that Laura ate.
Here's a fascinating article about the Poison Squads who set out in the early 20th century to prove that additives and chemicals used in processed foods were toxic.
Businesses had a near free hand to do so at that point. At the turn of the twentieth century, the federal government did not regulate food safety, did not require testing of food products in advance, and did not hold companies liable for resulting illnesses. Neither did it require food producers to inform consumers what materials actually went into a food product. Wiley actually had a range of alarming compounds on his test list beyond borax, including formaldehyde (used to slow the souring of old milk) and copper sulfate (used to restore color to canned vegetables).
See, this is why we NEED government. Regulation is a good thing.