Diners, Dudes, and Diets

How Gender and Power Collide in Food Media and Culture

By Emily J. H. Contois

208 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 21 halftones, notes, bibl

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6074-5
    Published: November 2020
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6073-8
    Published: November 2020
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-6075-2
    Published: October 2020
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-6003-3
    Published: October 2020

Studies in United States Culture

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The phrase "dude food" likely brings to mind a range of images: burgers stacked impossibly high with an assortment of toppings that were themselves once considered a meal; crazed sports fans demolishing plates of radioactively hot wings; barbecued or bacon-wrapped . . . anything. But there is much more to the phenomenon of dude food than what’s on the plate. Emily J. H. Contois’s provocative book begins with the dude himself—a man who retains a degree of masculine privilege but doesn’t meet traditional standards of economic and social success or manly self-control. In the Great Recession’s aftermath, dude masculinity collided with food producers and marketers desperate to find new customers. The result was a wave of new diet sodas and yogurts marketed with dude-friendly stereotypes, a transformation of food media, and weight loss programs just for guys.

In a work brimming with fresh insights about contemporary American food media and culture, Contois shows how the gendered world of food production and consumption has influenced the way we eat and how food itself is central to the contest over our identities.

About the Author

Emily J. H. Contois is assistant professor of media studies at the University of Tulsa.
For more information about Emily J. H. Contois, visit the Author Page.


"A fascinating work of cultural studies that makes evident the continued power and threat of explicitly gendered food production and consumption in the 21st century. Recommended broadly for students and scholars of fields related to gender, culture, and consumption."--Library Journal

“In an important new book, Emily J.H. Contois expands our understanding of food and masculinities in 21st-century North America. In fresh and lively close reading of food media and advertising . . . Contois very convincingly demonstrates . . . if we do not stop to ask ourselves why the diet soda ‘for men’ is in a grey can and claiming not to be a diet soda, she warns, we are going to miss a lot of what passes for common sense around gender identity.”—International Journal of Food Design

“The ‘dude’ and the ‘weight loss closet’ provide two unique analytical tools to explore the gendered nature of food culture as well as trends toward a more inclusive food media. Contois offers a lens onto the recent past as well as the current food trends that fill our television screens, making it possible to be more critical of the way we approach food and the underlying assumptions of how gender is acted out through food media.”—Men & Masculinities

“A sharp-as-hell dissection of how cultural notions of masculinity and femininity are weaponized in the kitchen, the grocery store, the dinner table, and everywhere else. Fascinating, mordant, enraging, illuminating.”— Helen Rosner’s “Great Food-ish Nonfiction 2020”

“As a survey of a generation worth of food marketing and messaging, the book offers a useful overview of how corporations package food, identity, and gender norms for consumption. Perhaps even more valuable, and hopeful, is the closing section, ‘Dude, What Happened?’ which explores how the election of Donald Trump, the MeToo movement, and the pandemic have caused many of the companies with the most egregiously gendered approaches to food to seek more neutral, inclusive territory.”—Civil Eats

“Focusing on the concept of dude foods, the book follows the evolution of food marketing for men. In doing so, Contois shows how industries used masculine stereotypes to sell diet and weight loss products to a new demographic. She argues that this has influenced both the way consumers think about food and their own identities.”—Food Tank