Abstract: Reinventing a "Uniquely American" Institution: Supermarkets in Europe, 1945-1970

Adam Mack


Following World War II, American business and governmental leaders cooperated to transform food retailing in Western Europe by helping to introduce retailing practices seen as uniquely "American," self-service and large supermarkets. European business leaders, however, deliberately tailored their supermarkets to appeal to local tastes and improved upon American models. By the end of the 1960s, their success led to the emergence of European reference points for self-service operations, inspiring American business leaders to look across the Atlantic for new ideas about supermarkets. Such developments complicate notions of the "Americanization" of European business and society by drawing attention to the cross-fertilization involved in the spread of "American" practices and products around the globe.