Diners, Dudes & Diets


Diners, Dudes & Diets: How Gender & Power Collide in Food Media & Culture will be published in November 2020 by the University of North Carolina Press.

The phrase “dude food” likely brings to mind a range of images: burgers stacked impossibly high with an assortment of toppings that were themselves once considered a meal; crazed sports fans demolishing plates of radioactively hot wings; barbecued or bacon-wrapped . . . anything. But there is much more to the phenomenon of dude food than what’s on the plate. Emily J. H. Contois’s provocative book begins with the dude himself—a man who retains a degree of masculine privilege but doesn’t meet traditional standards of economic and social success or manly self-control. In the Great Recession’s aftermath, dude masculinity collided with food producers and marketers desperate to find new customers. The result was a wave of new diet sodas and yogurts marketed with dude-friendly stereotypes, a transformation of food media, and weight loss programs just for guys.

In a work brimming with fresh insights about contemporary American food media and culture, Contois shows how the gendered world of food production and consumption has influenced the way we eat and how food itself is central to the contest over our identities. Understanding that process just might help all of us to find more joy and justice in our media lives.


The publication of Diners, Dudes, and Diets is supported by UNC Press’ Anniversary Fund. The new release paperback is priced at $22.95.

To redeem one of two special edition postcards as thanks for preordering, email your proof of purchase + preferred name and mailing address to dinersdudesdiets [at] gmail [dot] com.


Diners, Dudes & Diets | Table of Contents

  • Preface // These Are the Stakes
  • Introduction // Gender, Consumption, and the Great Recession Era of Corporate Food Marketing
  • Chapter One // Crafting Dude Food Media: From Advertising to Men’s Cookbooks
  • Chapter Two // Creating a Dude Chef: Food Network’s Guy Fieri
  • Chapter Three // Producing Food for Dudes: The Masculinization of Diet Soda and Yogurt
  • Chapter Four // Marketing Diets to Dudes: Health, Bodies, and Selves on Weight Watchers
  • Conclusion // Dude, What Happened?


“Contois has demonstrated that there is much fertile ground for considering how, why, and where the trope of ‘the dude’ functions and the arguments remain engaging throughout the entirety of Diners, Dudes, and Diets. She makes a significant contribution to food studies, gender studies, and cultural studies by deftly weaving an analysis of gendered power dynamics with observations of race, class, sexuality, age, and disability at important consumer culture sites.”

–Kathleen LeBesco, coeditor of The Bloomsbury Handbook of Food and Popular Culture

“Contois’s focus on ‘dude masculinity’ is original and will make an important contribution to the fields of food studies and gender studies insofar as it complicates our understanding of the gendering of food–its production, distribution, and consumption–food media, and cultural narratives around the idealized male and female body and dieting.”

–Peter Naccarato, coeditor of The Bloomsbury Handbook of Food and Popular Culture

Diners, Dudes, and Diets is truly interdisciplinary in a way that few works actually are. I feel like I’m being guided by a master storyteller who knows how to convey a sense of discovery, originality, and surprise. The textual analysis of the dude in his many forms is so compelling as to stand alone with the best literary deconstruction. Not only is this book an accessible, up-to-date primer in cultural studies, consumer culture, gender studies, hegemonic process, body image, food studies, and many other fields, it obviously connects to the intense, intimate concerns of many students (regardless of major), and it’s short! A trifecta! It’s the perfect teaching text.”

–Warren Belasco, author of Meals to Come: A History of the Future of Food 

“Emily Contois’s Diners, Dudes, and Diets is a brilliant and needed addition to the intersections of food studies and gender studies. Contois unpacks layers of cultural hegemony to get at the ways in which gender and consumption alter and affect each other in unexpected ways. She pays attention to how American masculinities are formed and (re)formed through the nuanced ways that race, class, and gender intersect and inform how men see themselves and each other. A must-read for scholars and classes in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, American Studies, Food Studies, and for anyone who wants to learn about why and how men’s bodies and values related to food have emerged in distinctive ways at this moment in American culture and history.”

–Melissa Hackman, author of Desire Work: Ex-Gay and Pentecostal Masculinity in South Africa

Get a taste of what Emily Contois has already published on these topics:

Headshot Photo: KC Hysmith