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Kitchen Debate
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Kitchen Debate

The Kitchen Debate was an impromptu debate between Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the opening of the American National Exhibition in Moscow, in July, 1959. The debate takes its name from the exhibition's model kitchen, where the discussion took place. The two men discussed the merits of each of their economic systems, capitalism vs. communism. The debate took place during an escalation of the Cold War, beginning with the launch of Sputnik in 1957, through the U-2 Crisis in 1960. Most Americans believed Nixon won the debate, and hence the event added to his prestige on the homefront.

Khrushchev was appalled by the kitchen exhibit, repeatedly stating that Russian people focus on things that matter rather than luxury. He even asked if there was a machine that "puts food into the mouth and pushes it down." Nixon responded by saying at least the competition was technological, rather than military. In the end, both men agreed that the United States and the Soviet Union should be more open with each other. However, Khrushchev was skeptical of Nixon's promise that his part in the debate would be translated into English and broadcast in the U.S.

Quotes from the debate