The Kitchen Debate

This debate took place between Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev during Nixon's 1959 visit to Moscow. It is called the "kitchen" debate because of a well-publicized exchange of angry words at the model kitchen exhibit of the U.S. Trade and Cultural Fair in Sokolniki Park. However, this exchange was only one episode in a series of spontaneous and unplanned exchanges that began on the morning of Nixon's first visit with Khrushchev and lasted during his entire tour of the U.S. Fair. This debate took place during a time of increasing tension in the Cold War, starting with Sputnik in 1957 and ending with the U-2 affair in 1960.

[image from the Disney Urban Legends page by David Mikkelson
with true story of how Khrushchev was not allowed to visit Disneyland in 1959]

Sputnik and its Impact

Oct. 4, 1957 - Khrushchev launched Sputnik 1

Nov. 7, 1957 - Ike responds with national TV address - need for reassurance

Cultural Competiton

Jan. 1, 1958 - Mikhail Menshikov appointed ambassador to U.S.

Jan. 27, 1958 - Russian-American Cultural Agreement signed

August 1958 - Adlai Stevenson, Hubert Humphrey trips to Russia

Nov. 10, 1958 - Khrushchev's Berlin ultimatum

Jan. 4, 1959 - Deputy Premier Mikoyan trip to U.S.

Feb. 25, 1959 - Macmillan meets with Khrushchev in Moscow

March 1959 - Billy Graham's first tour of Russia

May 11, 1959 - Geneva Foreign Ministers Conference

May 27, 1959 - Berlin deadline expires (so does John Foster Dulles)

June 23, 1959 - Averill Harriman's "Alarming Interview"

June 28, 1959 - Deputy Premier Kozlov trip to U.S.

July 19, 1959 - Congress proclaims Captive Nations Week

Nixon's Trip to Moscow

July 23, 1959 - Nixon arrives in Russia

Nixon arrived in record-setting time of 11 hours nonstop from New York in a Boeing 707

July 24, 6 am - Nixon visits Chaikovsky Street farmers market

July 24, 10 am - Nixon meets Khrushchev at Kremlin

The debate begins in Khrushchev's office (see 2 more pictures)

July 24, 12 noon - start Sokolniki Park tour (see 2 more pictures)

Impromptu debate takes place; recorded on new Ampex color videotape - see Telenews clip

debate continues at the free Pepsi stand, with Milton Eisenhower (see 4 more pictures)

debate continues at the model home with GE electric kitchen

Nixon: "This is the newest model. This is the kind which is built in thousands of units for direct installation in the houses.... Our steel workers, as youb know, are on strike. But any steel worker could buy this house. They earn $3 an hour. This house costs about $100 a month to buy on a contract running 25 to 30 years."

Khrushchev: "The Americans have created their own image of the Soviet man and thinks he is as you want him to be. But he is not as you think. You think the Russian people will be dumfounded to see these things, but the fact is that newly built Russian houses have all this equipment right now. Moreover, all you have to do to get a house is to be born in the Soviet Union... Yet you say that we are slaves to communism."

July 24, 6pm - official opening ceremonies start second tour

July 24, 9pm - wine toasts end second tour

Khrushchev: "A good wine. To the elimination of all military bases on foreign lands."

Nixon: "I am for peace. We will drink to talking - as long as we are talking we are not fighting... One hundred years of life. I will drink to that."

Khrushchev: "When I reach 99 years, we will discuss the question of bases further."

Nixon: "You mean that at 99 you will still be in power? No free elections?"

July 25, 1959 - Nixon tours Moscow

July 26, 1959 - Nixon meets with Khrushchev at the Dacha

July 27, 1959 - Nixon begins tour of Russia

Aug. 1, 1959 - Nixon TV address from Moscow

Aug. 2, 1959 - Nixon trip to Poland

Aug. 5, 1959 - Nixon returns to U.S.

Sept 12, 1959 - Russian Luna II hits moon

Khrushchev Trip to the U.S.

Sept 15, 1959 - Khrushchev arrives in U.S. for 13 days

"Spirit of Camp David"

Dec. 1959 - Ike's 3-week goodwill trip

Feb. 1960 - Ike's trip to South America

Feb. 10, 1960 - De Gaulle tests first French A-bomb

Feb. 13, 1960 - Russia-Cuba Trade Pact

March 24, 1960 - Ike agrees to stop U.S. atomic tests

U-2 Crisis

April 9, 1960 - resumption of U-2 flights - possible ICBM site at Plesetsk

April 16, 1960 - Sino-Soviet split made public

May 1, 1960 - Gary Powers' U-2 shot down by SAM-2 missile

May 7, 1960 - Ike learns that Powers alive

May 11, 1960 - Khrushchev displays U-2 remains in Moscow's "second U.S. Exhibition"

May 14, 1960 - Ike leaves for Paris Big Four summit on Air Force One

May 15, 1960 - Khrushchev threat against U-2 bases; U.S. goes on DefCon 3 alert

May 16, 1960 - Khrushchev cancels Ike's Moscow visit; refuses any summit agreements

May 22, 1960 - Midas 2 launched (1st infrared spy satellite)

July 1, 1960 - RB-47 shot down

Aug. 10, 1960 - Discoverer 13 launched

Corona photo of Pentagon,
1967, from NRO
Aug. 18, 1960 - CORONA satellite launched (1st photo spy satellite)
Khrushchev, Tito in New York,
9/26/60, from UN

Aug. 19, 1960 - Powers made confession during trial

Sep. 21, 1960 - Khrushchev arrives in U.S. for 25 days at United Nations session

Nov. 4, 1960 - Kennedy defeated Nixon 34,227,096 to 34,108,546

A Note on Sources:
revised 4/15/04 for Cold War Policies