The SVA Pictures Collection has two thick folders entitled People - Eating and Drinking. Both folders are packed with images of - you guessed it - people enjoying the pleasures of alimentary consumption. And they are enjoying themselves. This folder may feature the most happy-looking people of all of the Collection. Groups of people picnic on hilltops and beside rivers, or grin with watermelon dripping down their faces, or convene over a perfectly-poured beer, or flirt over sodas, or gather delightedly at glittering dinner parties, or smile at their own spaghetti…The act of sharing a meal or getting together over a beverage has utopic associations for many. The adage “breaking bread” refers to people building trust with one another. Show me an Eastern European grandmother that doesn't think any problem can be solved by a hearty meal and I'll give you a million dollars. Families across the world don’t tend to meet en masse to shop with one another or read magazines together - no, they come together to eat and imbibe. The cultural associations of food run deep, and our relationship to food as a society is far more complex and fraught than any encounter with sustenance should necessarily be. Some of us are lucky enough, however, to spend time smiling into bowls of spaghetti.

Woman wearing lilac blouse eats a fancy picnic involving jelly beans, white wine, and pate out of the trunk of her car.
Geo Volume 2 1980
A group of people dressed in black tie attire drink beer at a restaurant with elborate wallpaper.
April 1939
Four people drink sodas with straws on a hill looking out over the Golden Gate Bridge.
A birds-eye-view of seven people sitting on a beach eating hot dogs and drinking sodas out of a cooler.
Bethlehem Steel ad June 1963
A black tie banquet featuring an enormously long banquet table and several other tables branching off of it is served by waiters dressed in white.
Several chefs wearing uniforms are blurred in motion as they prepare several tables-worth of food.
A man contemplates a large forkful of spaghetti and mussels at a restaurant above the Mediterranean Sea.
October 1959
An old man goes for a bite of dumpling.
August 1960
Several people pose taking bites out of watermelons. The photograph is from 1894.
1894 photograph, published in National Geographic December 2014
A family has a picnic on a riverbank.
July 1972
A man with a giant mustache makes a surprised facial expression while holding a very large glass of beer.
June 1958
A woman bites into a lettuce leaf as she makes a salad, her daughter, beside her, bites into a cookie.
August 1954
A man wearing a life jacket and a small hat sips a coffee mug near a body of water.