What Adam Richman Wants You To Know About The Food That Built America - Exclusive

Adam Richman has got a lot to say about food in America — and not just about its effect on his taste buds. In an exclusive interview, the television star told Mashed "I've always appreciated the story that food tells." The former Man v. Food host is not a culinary expert in the formal sense, but rather an everyman who knows and loves food. He recalls a story about a particularly famous peanut butter filled candy, "Like Reese burning his batches of roasted peanuts, and the peanut butter had this sort of bark roasted flavor. And he's like, 'No, this is good. This is what I want,'" Richman explains, "the idea this happy accident works... Moms are doing that in kitchens every single day, dads too. You know what I mean? And I think that that speaks more to people. So for me, I really enjoy and I really relate to the language that food speaks, and I think the history of it is very much part of that language."

Richman has been busy learning about Reese's, and so much more food history, as a regular contributor on The Food That Built Americacurrently airing on the History Channel. Richman joined us to discuss food in America and what you can expect from season two of the show.

Food for the people, by the people

According to Adam Richman, one of the biggest draws of The Food That Built America is that it puts real faces behind some of the biggest food innovations in our history, the household names we take for granted everyday. He told Mashed "I think that we hear Heinz, we hear Hershey, we hear Birdseye, we hear Wise... We think about brands. We don't think they're people. We don't think that there was once a guy named Milton Hershey who put on his pants, one leg at a time. That there was a man named Clarence Birdseye, that the Toll House recipe was created by a woman who worked at the Toll House Inn, that two guys... the Carney brothers in Wichita, Kansas, started Pizza Hut."

Prepare to learn about those names and more throughout the second season of The Food That Built America, which airs Sundays on the History Channel. If you aren't familiar, the show is part documentary, part Netflix-style drama. It shows how some of the most iconic foods in America came to be, from either a stroke of genius or sheer necessity, revealing the fascinating histories (and bitter rivalries) of household names like Oreo, Kraft, McDonald's, Cheetos, and more.

Richman explained to Mashed, "We take it for granted because we think of them as sort of part of the landscape, part of the furniture, like they've always been here — but they haven't. And I think that it's cool to demystify these brands, it's cool to see the people behind the package." Richman added that this show is more impactful now than ever. "In a time when so many people are struggling... I think it becomes really relatable."

A story of American innovation

While it's true that many of the famous food brands we love were built by regular people, it wasn't done without some serious hard work, ingenuity, and a few failures along the way. Adam Richman says that's an important lesson to take away from The Food That Built America. Much of it takes place during the Industrial Revolution, Great Depression, and both World Wars — trying times for Americans that led to incredible innovations. Richman says, "We have to recall that a lot of these guys had to build the machines to make this stuff. Like the Fig Newton, the guys who invented it... didn't have the technology to create it in the practical sense in the real world. So he had to invent it."

Richman says building America's food empires didn't come to be without some big risks as well. "Sometimes you got to put something out there and do it like when Curtiss [Candy Company] created the Baby Ruth. [Otto Schnering, the founder] realized the chocolates had nuts, chocolates had caramel, chocolates had nougat, but no bar had all of them. And he created something with all of them." It goes without saying, Schnering's plan worked. 

Richman concluded by saying that this show is a source of inspiration. "I think that The Food That Built America is very much where you get to see that if you dream it, you can be it, you can make it happen."

You can catch Adam Richman on this season of The Food That Built America or the reboot of Modern Marvels, both on the History Channel.