Rewriting the Story of the Starving Armenian



For decades, Americans casually threw around the term “starving Armenian” to refer to anyone who was hungry. But to Armenian-Americans, the phrase is a confusing misnomer for a culture rich with cooking traditions.

At the turn of the 20th century, long before “Kardashian” entered the vernacular, Americans knew one thing about Armenians: They were very hungry.

Mothers in kitchens across America warned their children to clean their plates and remember “the starving Armenians”—and soon the phrase began to make appearances in newspapers and magazines.

As refrigerators came into popular use in the 1920s and ’30s, General Electric ran an inelegant ad touting the storage benefits and time-saving benefits of the appliance. “Work your menus up a week in advance, then proceed to make the items that will keep and store them in your electric refrigerator until it is time for them to appear in the limelight, for confiscation by your ‘hungry Armenians.’”

Read more at Taste

Illustrations by Lauren Cierzan

Liana Aghajanian