rusq: Vol. 52 Issue 2: p. 166
Sources: Fast Food and Junk Food: An Encyclopedia of What We Love to Eat
Stacey Marien

Acquisitions Librarian, American University, Washington, DC

The user needs to be a detective to find out that this encyclopedia is a 2nd edition of the 2006 title Encyclopedia of Junk Food and Fast Food (also authored by Andrew Smith). The new title is different and nothing in the bibliographic information suggests this is an update to the original source. It is only when reading the preface and getting to the last pages that the author reveals this title is a new edition. According to the preface “this two-volume encyclopedia updates and expands existing entries and added more than 270 new entries for a total of more than 700 entries” (xxxiv). The first edition was one volume so the new entries plus bigger font may account for the expansion to two volumes.

Smith, the editor of the highly acclaimed Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America confesses he is a junk food lover. While he claims his consumption of fast food has declined from his youth, his fascination with the topic has not, hence his continued interest in producing reference works on the subject. The preface states that “this encyclopedia is intended to be the primary balanced source for information about fast food and junk food”(xxxii).

Instead of a table of contents, there is a List of Entries but no page numbers are included. There is also a Topical List of Entries that includes such topics as Bakery Goods; Beverages; Candy; Fast Food; Health and Nutrition; Ice Cream; Restaurants and Drive-Ins; and Salty and Other Non Candy Snacks.

The articles are arranged alphabetically and range in length from a few paragraphs to several pages. All articles end with a listing of Further Readings. The listing of readings includes articles, books, and websites. There are “see also” references. For example, under Corn, the “see also” includes Beef Jerky; Bugles; Corn Dogs; High Fructose Corn Syrup; and Tacos. The entries are fun to read and interesting and provide information on topics ranging from specific products such as Dum Dum Pops and Twinkies to companies such as Dunkin Donuts and See’s Candies and broad topics such as Dieting and Sugar/Sweeteners.

An extensive index is included at the end of the volume. There is a Glossary that explains terms such as Batch Processing, Electrolytes, QSR (Quick Service Restaurant), and Tie-In. The back of the volume also contains a selected bibliography as well as a resource guide that lists CDs, DVDs, films, videos, organizations, and websites.

As much fun as this encyclopedia is to read, are these types of reference sources really needed anymore? Many of the Further References are to a company’s website to find out information. The user is able to do that without picking up this book. This resource gives a nice introduction to junk food and fast food but if a library already owns the first edition, there really is no need to buy this new edition. If a library collects food-related reference books, this 2 volume set would be a nice addition, but not necessary.

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