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How the Women-Led 'Bread Boycotts' Changed 20th Century Food Pricing

Organized protests get results if you get enough people to participate. Mrs. Paul West complained to her grocer about rapidly rising food prices in 1966. His response? “…stick to your cooking and let us decide prices.” Oh, it was on. West organized a group called Housewives for Lower Food Prices and boycotted five grocery chains.

Like her predecessors, West garnered sneers. The New York Times called the protest a “ladycott”. One grocery executive (who seemed to have forgotten who buttered his bread) told LIFE, “The housewives are emotional. The logic of our balance sheet does not interest them.” Another sniped that “Maybe they need a recipe instead of a picket line.”

Those housewives of 1966 may have received little respect at first, but protests are particularly effective when money is involved. The “ladycott” of 1966 was only one of many times that women banded together to protest high food prices, several of which you can read about at Atlas Obscura. 

(Image credit: Cornell University Library)


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