HIST 1228 – K. Freeland – Spring 2017
Essay on The Kitchen Debate and Cold War Consumer Politics
The 1950s were years of affluence and growth for the United States, and they were also peak years in the
Cold War with the Soviet Union. In the summer of 1959, the American Exposition in Moscow provided
an interesting combination of the two. Billed as an opportunity to promote understanding about the
culture of the US, and to improve relations between the two countries, the exposition showcased (among
other things) the latest home appliances and technologies available to the average American. In an
impromptu exchange in a model kitchen, Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev used the display to
debate the relative merits of their societies in terms of consumer goods and gender roles.
The Kitchen Debate and Cold War Consumer Politics provides a wealth of primary documents related to
the debate itself, as well as the politics involved. It gives insight into how Soviets viewed the exhibition,
how both sides viewed each other, and what they considered to be the most important aspects of their
For this assignment, you will use the documents in the book to help answer the questions below
about the Kitchen Debate and the politics related to it. Type your responses in complete sentences.
Refer to the documents themselves to inform your answers, and cite the documents you use as your
evidence by number in parenthesis—this is an example (Doc. 4).
The Kitchen Debate between Khrushchev and Nixon went beyond just the benefits of the modern
American kitchen. Looking at the conversation itself and several speeches given by Khrushchev, what
ideas does each side seem to focus on? Who do you think had better points? (see Documents 5, 6, 23, 37,