4.2: American Quality of Life


For this project we will be talking about American “quality of life” and “standard of living” in the postwar era.  Before class, each team member will read “The Kitchen Debate,” a famous (or infamous) exchange between the leader of the free world and the leader of the communist world.  During class, we will watch television ads from the 1950s, and extract from them implicit and explicit messages about American standards and values during the era.

READ TRANSCRIPT: Vice-President Richard Nixon and Nikita Khruschev, “The Kitchen Debate,” 1959.


1.  A list of qualities, values, and/ or observations about the U.S. discussed or alluded to in “The Kitchen Debate,” 1959.  For example:  American have an easier life.

2.  What do you see as the main, most important difference between the Soviet system and the American system as revealed in this debate?

By the end of class, you should be able to describe a modern TV ad and explain what it might reveal about present cultural values.

A send up, in case you might feel the need for mild amusement:    SNL skit “A Ladies Guide to Party Planning”  which pretty much sums up the stereotype.  [Hulu has captured this link.  If you don’t have a Hulu subscription, here’s the transcript–with pictures.

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