This week’s post is another photograph identification challenge. These two images come from the archives of the Association of Home Science Alumnae of New Zealand, held at the Hocken Collections. They are from a series of large format photos, mounted for use in a display. Unfortunately they have no details attached, but I’m guessing from the hairstyles that they date from the 1990s (I’m willing to be corrected on that though!). Are you able to name any of the women in these images? They seem to be in the food science lab, but what exactly are they doing? Judging by the look on the face of the woman in the centre with plate and spoon, if she’s tasting something it’s not especially appealing.
Food science was an integral part of the home science degree and diploma courses from their beginning in 1911. Early foods courses involved practical cookery skills, becoming more demanding as students advanced. For instance, in 1937 the Foods II course of “experimental cookery” was “designed to standardize methods of cookery on the basis of the composition of Foods” and students had to complete Applied Chemistry I alongside or before this course. Later advanced courses were more explicitly about science rather than cookery. In the 1953 Chemistry of Foods paper students learned about “Proteins, carbohydrates, fats, mineral matter; the fundamental principles and practice in gravimetric and volumetric analysis as used in food chemistry; determination of moisture, protein, fat, sugar, ash in common food materials; determination of more important fat constants; detection of food preservatives and adulterations.” They spent 3.3 hours in the lab each week, conducting experiments using milk, butter, cereals, yeast, vinegar and baking powders.
By the 1980s food science had two streams – food science, and consumer food science, which dealt with food market acceptance and product development. Research interests of the department in 1988 ranged from flavour changes during storage of frozen stone fruit to the development of surimi. Like the Department of Human Nutrition, the Department of Food Science emerged from the umbrella of home science to become an important department in its own right within the Division of Sciences.
Can you help name these mystery scientists? Or do you have any memories of the food science lab to share?