This Independent Study explores the restaurant foodscape in the rural city of Wessex, Ohio and examines how two different sets of restaurants in this foodscape identify themselves as emblematic of the city. Restaurants opened in Wessex over the last ten years that have been selected for inclusion on Wessex Food Tours comprise the first set of restaurants examined. These restaurants are a curated set of local businesses that Wessex Food Tours presents to visitors as representative of a rejuvenated, contemporary Wessex. The other set of restaurants examined are those restaurants that have existed in Wessex for over 50 years, but are not included on the food tours. While not included on the food tours, these older restaurants are deeply embedded in the city’s history and remain a quintessential component in the city’s restaurant foodscape. This study investigates how the older restaurants and tour restaurants both attest to be representative of Wessex through the foods served and the dining spaces created. In order to understand how each set of restaurants envisions themselves as illustrative of Wessex’s food culture, I conducted participant observation on the Wessex Food Tours and at the older restaurants. Additionally, I conducted nine formal interviews with representatives from both sets of restaurants and the owner and manager of Wessex Food Tours. Lastly, I completed content analysis of menus from both sets of restaurants. Employing a symbolic anthropological perspective, I found that food culture in Wessex is a multivocal and polysemic dominant symbol surrounded by a spectrum of referents. Both sets of restaurants manipulate these referents, such as heritage, home, nostalgia, family, local, and community, in their production of Wessex food culture.


Frese, Pamela


Sociology and Anthropology


Social and Cultural Anthropology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis Exemplar



© Copyright 2016 Clare T. Carlson