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Traveling Smithsonian Exhibit ‘Key Ingredients: America by Food’ Makes Stop at FSU

Opening Event Features Curator Discussing Culinary Gadgets

“Key Ingredients: America by Food,” a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition at Frostburg State University, will kick off with a presentation from exhibit curator Charles Camp on “Inspecting Gadgets: The Making and Selling of Culinary Paraphernalia,“ at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28, in Frostburg State University’s Compton Science Center room 226, followed by a reception featuring regional cuisine at 7:30 p.m. in the Compton Exploratorium.

“Key Ingredients” delves into the historical, regional and social traditions that merge in everyday meals and celebrations of the American table. It will be on view at the FSU Compton Exploratorium from Sept. 28 to Nov. 10. The opening event and the exhibition are free and open to the public.

Camp will discuss the product demonstrators who not so long ago appeared at county fairs throughout America and amazed fairgoers with inexpensive machines that turned ordinary potatoes into cascades of curlicues and carrots into orange toothpicks. The infomercial has replaced the midway, but kitchen gadgets continue to appeal to bored and overworked cooks, fueling an ongoing reconsideration of what we eat and how it's prepared. Camp’s presentation includes the Veg-o-matic and other kitchen time-savers, along with an appreciation of the drama and salesmanship that made them household essentials.

Dr. Kara Rogers Thomas, Assistant Professor of Sociology at FSU, and a committee of area residents including educators, farmers, agriculture extension agents, historians and artists have created a number of complementary programs and exhibits featuring regional foodways. Three of those exhibits on display with the Smithsonian exhibition are “Cookbooks Through the Ages,” which shares a sampling of the history of regional and U.S. cookbooks from the 1800s through contemporary times; “All About Food,” featuring a photographic collection of Mountain Maryland’s food traditions; and “Cooking Antiquities,” which uses cooking-related items on loan from regional museum collections to test the memory and knowledge of exhibition guests.

“We are incredibly pleased to be able to host such an intriguing exhibition. Food is something that we often take for granted in our society,” Rogers Thomas said. “This exhibition encourages us to think seriously about the pivotal role food plays in our own culture.”

FSU is working in cooperation with the Maryland Humanities Council to host the local showing. Key Ingredients is part of Museum on Main Street, a unique collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), state humanities councils across the nation, and local host institutions. To learn more about Key Ingredients and other Museum on Main Street exhibitions, visit

The exhibition will be open for viewing on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m., Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 3 to 8 p.m. To learn more, visit or contact Rogers Thomas at FSU at 301-687-3124.

FSU is committed to making all of its programs, services and activities accessible to persons with disabilities. To request accommodations through the ADA Compliance Office, call (301) 687-4102, TDD (301) 687-7955.

For further information on this release, contact:

Office of News and Media Services
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-3171
Fax: 301-687-7589