Garlic Capital of the WorldGilroy, Garlic, and the Making of a Festive Foodscape

Garlic Capital of the WorldGilroy, Garlic, and the Making of a Festive Foodscape

Pauline Adema

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9781604731200

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi


According to this book, you smell Gilroy, California, before you see it. The book examines the role of food and festivals in creating a place brand or marketable identity. The author scrutinizes how Gilroy successfully transformed a negative association with the pungent garlic bulb into a highly successful tourism and marketing campaign, and explores how local initiatives led to the iconization of the humble product there. The city, a well-established agricultural center and bedroom community south of San Francisco, rapidly built a place-brand identity based on its now-famous moniker, “Garlic Capital of the World.” To understand Gilroy’s success in transforming a local crop into a tourist draw, the book contrasts the development of this now-thriving festival with events surrounding the launch and demise of the PigFest in Coppell, Texas. Indeed, the Garlic Festival is so successful that the event is all that many people know about Gilroy. The author explores the creation and subsequent selling of foodscapes or food-themed place identities. This seemingly ubiquitous practice is readily visible across the country at festivals celebrating edibles such as tomatoes, peaches, spinach, and even cauliflower. Food, the author contends, is an attractive focus for image makers charged with community building and place differentiation. Not only is it good to eat; food can be a palatable and marketable symbol for a town or region.