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Food Timeline..... food history lesson plans.....Have questions? Ask!


  • food history quizzes
  • food pictures
  • food styling
  • freshness dating ("best if used by" &c.)
  • historic curriculum
  • historic prices
  • literature & food
  • presidential foods
  • science & technology
  • state foods
  • teacher tools
  • world hunger
  • historic curriculum
    New World foods (lists & resources)
    American school lunches (resource material)
    Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom, multidisciplinary lesson plans for grades 4-6. Excellent resource!
    Presidential food favorites
    U.S. Dietary Recommendations
    Where did our food originate?

    Apples & More, University of Illinois Extension, grades 3-8
    Chocolate: The Exploratorium & The Field Museum, grades 3-8
    Rice romp, U.S. Rice Producers, grades 4-7
    Spices in Your Favorite Foods, grades 5-7

    Origins of Agriculture, Indiana University, interactive high school lesson
    Mesopotamia food & farming
    Ancient Rome--Cena Bene, ancient Roman banquet, grades 6+
    1492, Columbian Exchange--Guiding Student Discussion, grades 9+
    1500, Renaissance Europe--500 Year Old Food Makes Me Sick!, lessons inspired by It's Disgusting and We Ate It, K-5
    1621--Investigating the Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving, Plimoth Plantation
    1750--When Rice Was King, South Carolina history lesson from the National Park Service
    1760--Colonial Christmas at Williamsburg, curriculum for elementary and middle school
    1770s--What's Cooking-A Colonial Recipe, New Jersey Historical Society, elementary grades
    1776--Salt Junk and Ship's Biscuit, diet of the Royal Navy, elementary grades
    1860s--Beef & watermelons, Nebraska frontier foods, middle school
    1860--A Shanty Boy's Meal, lumber camp fare from the Michigan Historical Center, K-5
    1872--Vermont's Historic Diners, feeding the new industrial nation, grades 9-12
    1900s--Why were school dinners brought in?, UK
    1915--Australians at Gallipoli ate hardtack & bully beef, includes recipe
    1917--Food is ammunition-don't waste it, National Park Service, grades 6-12
    1918--Sow the Seeds of Victory!, National Archives and Records Administration
    1941--British civilian rations, Imperial War Museum
    1942--Victory Gardens, home front survival lessons for middle & high school students
    1943--The Rationing Challenge, interactive lesson from the BBC
    1945--Menuette, a British card game...includes original rules

    diversity lessons
    Breads from around the world, primary grades...more resources
    Food for the Ancestors, discovering foods of Mexico, PBS
    Family Food Favorites, Indiana Historical Society, adaptable for all grades
    Hey, Mom! What's for Breakfast?, food around the world for grades 3-5
    International food court, National Geographic, grades 6-12
    Japanese tea ceremony, grades K-6
    Kaffee- und Teegesellschaften & Advertisments from a German-American cookbook, 1894, German-American food traditions, German I-IV
    Mexican, New Mexican & Tex Mex history & cuisine (resource material)
    Key Ingredients: America by Food, Smithsonian Institution
    Vegetarian Lesson Plan, adaptable for all grades
    Yam and Eggs, breakfast around the world, Oklahoma State Extension Service, grades 4-6

    economics
    Historic food prices, data and sources
    Food consumption in the United States 1909-1948 statistics by commodity, some pricing.
    Food for Thought, calculating Civil War prices
    Ben & Jerry's Flavor Graveyard, why some products are discontinued, grades 3-5
    The Big Mac Index, lesson comparing foreign exchange rates, grades 9-12. Additional data here.
    Breakfast cereal inventory
    Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner, using the Consumer Price Index, grades 9-12
    I'll Trade You a Bag of Chips, Two Cookies, and $60,000 for Your Tuna Fish Sandwich
    Mad Cattlemen Sue Oprah over Price Decline, media and economics, grades 9-12

    food ads & packaging
    Food ads, Tony the Tiger &c.
    Food packages, kid's favorite brands 1940-1970 (resource material)
    Food Product Design (resource material)

    food as art
    Art & food
    Play With Your Food /Joost Elfers (book)

    food styling & advertising
    Don't Buy It, PBS Kids,

    Comfort foods
    Our survey of historic sources suggests the term "comfort food," as it relates to consumer psychology (overeating due to stress), dates to the 1960s. Americans redefined "comfort food" in the 1980s. Judith Olney's seminal book Comforting Food, published in 1979, opened that discussion. Jane and Michael Stern spearheaded the movement. Comfort food became a culinary genre in the 1980s. Before long, comfort went upscale. Think: artisan meatloaf, garlic mashed & mac'n'cheese cupcakes.

    What were (are) "comfort foods?" There is no single definition or list. Dr. Isaac Rubin defined them by caloric content. Food psychologists tell us "comfort foods" are personal. They are often associated with items our loved ones prepared for us when we were children. So? For some people this food is sweet (chocolate, ice cream, pudding, bowlful of M&Ms or candy corn), for others it's savory (butter noodles, macaroni & cheese, mashed potatoes, biscuits & gravy, chicken soup). Many American comfort foods have at least three things in common. They are:
    1. Smooth & creamy (easy to chew & digest)
    2. Carb intensive (give us energy)
    3. Fondly remembered from childhood (good food memories)

    [1965]
    "'I call myself a problem eater. When all goes well I get along fine, but with any problem I eat and eat and eat!...let's analyze the situation. When trouble crops up, you turn to food for comfort. Food gives you immediate satisfaction. What you are really saying is that you get so discouraged and depressed, that you think, 'Oh what's the use!'...The you start eating. Since eating until you are surfeited does nothing to help the situation, you feel even more depressed...Your will power is influenced by, in fact, takes direction from the mental picture you hold in your mind."
    ---"Keep in Trim: Her Problems Add Up to Too Many Pounds," Ida Jean Kain, Washington Post, October 25, 1965 (p. B9)

    [1966]
    "Take yourself down a size. you can diet--and eat some goodies too. Lose weight with the help of comfort foods. The Thin Book by a Formerly Fat Psychiatrist, by Theodore Isaac Rubin, MD"
    ---display ad, Chicago Tribune, March 29, 1966 (p. B2)

    "Please do not confuse the pleasure of eating with bodily pleasure. Your eating is not a pleasure. It has become a compulsion and the only way you can feel some small measure of false comfort and security...make no mistake about it. Wild eating is not a function of freedom. It is a result of compulsion...Pick a good time to start [a diet]...Have your house cleared of excess poison food for several days previously. Orient your family of the people you live with, and have plenty of ammunition food, comforting food, and emergency supplies on hand and easy to reach."
    ---"Watch Scales When Dieting but Don't Expect Miracles," Theodore Isaac Rubin, Chicago Tribune, June 7, 1966 (p. B3)

    Dr. Rubin defined Comforting Foods thusly: "These foods are of relatively low caloric content ad are more 'filling' than Ammunition Foods. You can't eat all you want--but these are great for fighting off that urge." The foods are presented in alphabetical list form: "apples. apricots, artichokes, asparagus, cantaloupe, carrots, chestnuts, chicken, cottage cheese, egg plant, grapefruit, lean beafburgers, lobster, mussels, pears, pot cheese, scallops, shrimp, strawberries, tangerines, tomatoes, veal...and for Special Comfort drink bouillon, cofee, tea."
    ---The Thin Book By A Formerly Fat Psychiatrist, Theodore Isaac Rubin, M.D. [Essandess Special Edition:New York] 1966, 1967 (unpaged appendix, between "Ammunition Foods" (few calories & satisfying=pickles, celery, beets, tomato juice, raw peppers, &c.) and "Poison Foods" (high calories: ale, avocados, baked beans, cake, chocolate, ice cream, pizza)
    [NOTE: Dr. Rubin also wrote Lisa and David.]

    [1969]
    “Comfort Foods or ‘How to East and Upset Head.’ There are certain foods that are more comforting than others: Milk, malted, custard pie, chocolate pudding, chowders and soft cheeses—all the soft, warm, milky things that somehow recall the warmth of your mommy. When you’re unhappy it’s usually because you’re missing something—so maybe that’s the time to indulge yourself in some kind of oral compensation.”
    ---Alice’s Restaurant Cookbook, Alice May Brock [Random House:New York] 1969 (p. 31)

    [1978]
    "Coffee-hot, strong, creamed to the color of maple fudge--flows across the tongue, down the throat, and into body and soul, warming, stimulating, restoring the will to accomplish to the weary human who has sought its rejuvenating powers...French fries...Chicken soup...Ask anyone what food he or she turns to 'for solace when life is more down than up, and, as if it were balk for the aching sacroilliac, peanut butter, chocolate ice cream, avocados, oysters stew, or some other palate-pleaser unhesitatingly is mentioned...Feeling better is 'hot fudge sundaes with nuts...Rhapsodizing about the food one turns to for comfort and fortitude, two local experts agree, is not grist for the psychiatric mill. It's as natural as reaching back to parental sanctuary in an insecure world. 'Food serves to soothe us as infants, and we never quite lose that function of food,' said Dr. Donald M. Schwartz, psychologist with the Psychosomatic and Psychiatric Institute of Michael Reese Medical Center. 'We developed tastes for food we particularly like, foods that at times not only alleviate hunger, but also calm our mild anxieties.'..Not all comfort foods follow a person from childhood into adulthood. It has been only the last couple of years that Linda Tritz...has prepared avocados on a regular basis as part of occasional self-treating special meals."
    ---"Du Jour: Thumb-sucking foods that get us through tough times," Margaret Carroll, Chicago Tribune, September 4, 1978 (p. A1)

    [1979]
    "Ask any random hundred people that you meet, 'What is the most comforting food you know?' and there will be a pause, a reflective searching back through memory and time, and then, almost invariably, an answer sprung from the farthest reaches of childhood: a certain dish, its aroma floating form a long-ago kitchen but still vital in the memory; something hot offered over and over and over and always after a day of wintry play; something bland that tasted rich after a week of eating nothing during illness; nursery foods; odd, peculiar little dishes in which one crumbled crackers in warm milk and seasoned them with butter; or probed bread fingers into a soft-boiled egg; or placed five lumps of sugar on a cereal and waited for them to dissolve just so; or a glass of milk and beaten egg over which Mother held a grater so that one might scrape some nutmeg on; and behind the simple bread, egg, milk...there lies that nourishment of which we can have no individual memory but only a collective one speaking to us of a deep security and union which we remember or imagine as the state of infancy...Ask the same hundred people what foods give them comfort now, and the answers are more mature, more diverse. Surely soups...hot cereals; and a listing of potato dishes, apple dishes, egg dishes, dishes 'my grandmother used to make'; then there is a pause, and just as surely, a kind of defensiveness seems to arise, for the foods are more humble than prevailing style might dictate; they are old-fashioned; and--this may be the most damaging--in being unassuming they are often economical as well, which hinders our all too human desire to consume conspicuously. If there was ever an un unjustifiable defensiveness, this must be it, for the gentle, simple foods that feed the body and the soul are those that have triumphed and endured from the past, that are with us still, and that will be when we are no more."
    ---Comforting Food, Judith Olney [Atheneum:New York] 1979 (p. 3-4)
    [NOTE: This book offers recipes (grouped by course), menu planning instructions, culinary categories (participation dishes, ritual dishes, children's dishes) and suggested menus. There is no comprehensive list of comforting foodstuffs; the index serves as a guide.]

    [1983]
    "What exactly is comforting food? We asked the question of several Chicagoans and of Judith Olney, author of a whole book on the subject, 'Comforting Food'...'Comforting food above all is evocative food,' Olney answered. 'Something that, as you eat it, calls back memories of times past, of warmth, of home, of family, of mother. Comforting food is deep and thick and rich. It's golden and speckled, and whole and juicy and fill. It's earnest, and it's amiable. It frequently is farinacious (starchy) and therefore, encompasses potatoes, rice, pasta, staples that generationn s have depended on for nourishment. Comforting foods are inevitably old-fashioned...It's sooothing to the eyes, to the stomach; above all it speaks to the soul. It's absolutely without socal pretense.' We eat comfort food wehn we are cold or tired or rained on, when we're under vocational or emotional stress, when we've suffered a loss or a disappointment, when we feel blue or lonely or empty...Olney says winter offer foods that have, by their continued yearly presence, become comforting in nature: ' Comforting foods inevitably have about them a repetitive, old-fashioned sense of staples kept by generations in the dark larders of the winter months; potatoes, turnips, carrots, onions, apples, spices, flour, eggs, in a multitude of forms, and above all bread appearing everywhere, in every guise. These ingredients lend themselves to dishses such as soups and stews."
    ---"Comfort Foods: Great Dishes to Soften the Winter's Blow," Phyllis Magida, Chicago Tribune, February 17, 1983 (p. N-A1)

    [1988]
    "With so much to worry about these days, Americans are bellying to to the table to find solace in foods that stir memories as much as taste buds. So-called comfort foods can be delicious but don't have to be, can be healthy but generally are not, can be down-home but might be very special. What they have in common is the ability to tug at the heart strings. Among the first to recognize the lure of comfort foods were Jane and Michael Stern. In their 1984 "Square Meals" cookbook was an early sign that the foods from which baby boomers fled were again becoming the foods for which they yearned. Several new books, including a new one by the Sterns, show the interest has not waned. "There's a kind of spiritual nutriment to be found in honest food that doesn't take itself so seriously, that's an expression of the way people really live," Stern said in a telephone interview..."
    ---"Books and Authors: Taking Comfort in Food," Mary MacVean, Associated Press, November 14, 1988

    [1995]
    "As the Greed Decade and the Reagan years came to an end, high-salaried, high-consumption, status-seeking, image-conscious America was rocked by the stock market collapse and the junk bond and savings & loan scandals. People were scared. Those who hadn't lost their jobs or endured pay cuts hunkered down and stopped spending. And one of the first places they stopped spending was at high-ticket restaurants...the pace slowed down, and the newest trend was for Comfort Food just like Mom used to make--good old American classics...Jane and Michael were at the forefront of the Comfort Food trend with Square Meals (1984). With chapters like "Lunch Counter Cooking," "Sunday Dinner," and "Nursery Food," the Sterns made it seem not only okay but trendy to make and eat meat loaf...and noodleburger casserole...It was considered terribly amusing to serve something as deliberately unhip as "cherry Coke Jell-O salad" at a dinner party for rich Yuppies...many of the most popular Comfort Foods were what Mommy and Grandma were making in the Twenties, Thirties, and Forties...But Comfort Food didn't just mean down-home American cooking. We also turned to Italian food to soothe our shattered nerves in the late Eighties...Tummy-filling, soul-warming...pasta, and polenta were all popular Italian comfort foods..."
    ---Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads, Sylvia Lovegren [MacMillan:New York] 1995 (p. 410-411)

    [2006]
    "Next time you're the fifth person in the 'full shopping cart' grocery lane, glance through any three magazines in the impulse-buy-rack. At least one will have an article about comfort foods or a big picture of a chocolate cake on the cover. Usually too, it will be reinforcing one of the common comfort-food myths.
    Myth #1--Most comfort foods are indulgently unhealthy.
    Myth #2--People tend to eat comfort foods when they're sad, stressed or bored.
    Myth #3: Comfort food preferences become fixed when we are children.
    Twennty years of my research can be summarized in saying 'People's tastes are not formed by accident.' But are comfort oods really this predictable? In the course of tracking down the secrets of mindless eating, our Lab has developed new insights into why we associate ccertain foods with comfort and when and why we eat them..."
    ---"In the Mood or Comfort Food," Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think,, Brian Wansink, PH.D [Bantam Books:New York] 2006 (p. 139-161)
    [NOTE: Dr. Wansink's experiments and findings are summarized in this book. Your local public librarian can help you obtain a copy.]

    food psychology and consumer satisfaction
    Food & Brand Lab/Cornell University

    food science & technology
    Cooking With Chemistry, grades 9-12 (butter, candy, dairy, potato chips!)
    Dining on DNA: An Exploration into Food Biotechnology, high school level
    Finding Science in Ice Cream, secondary experiment designed by the University of Guelph (Canada)
    Food for Keeps, food preservation methods & make beef jerky, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, grades 4-6
    Food Science Experiments & Learning, resources & lesson plans, Penn State
    Gatorade, the chemistry of sports drinks, grades 9-12
    Genetically Modified Foods, PBS, grades 9-12
    Iron Science Teacher: hot dogs, candy, baking soda, marshmallow peeps & pumpkins
    Nutrasweet & Olestra, chemistry lessons for grades 9-12
    Physical chemistry of making fudge, high school+
    Puffed Wheat, Minnesota Historical Society, grades 9-12
    Rock candy, Exploratorium, all grades, & history notes.
    Science of cooking, Exploratorium
    Sports nutrition and the Olympics, grades 7-12
    Space food, food choices, menu notes, food packaging, & photos
    Sugar science, (background material), grades 7-12

    literature & food
    Books for Cooks, British cookbooks through time, adaptable all grades
    Literature & food

    Alcott, Louisa May: The Louisa May Alcott Cookbook/Gretchen Anderson. Amy's pickled limes
    Arabian Nights: "A Thousand and One Fritters: The Food of the Arabian Nights," essay by Charles Perry, Medieval Arab Cookery [Prospect Books:Devon] 2001 (p. 488-496)
    Austen, Jane: I, II, III IV & V
    Chaucer, Geoffrey: Cookery techniques & recipes\
    Dahl, Roald: Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes/Josie Fison & Felicity Dahl
    Dickens, Charles
    Dickinson, Emily: Emily Dickinson: Profile of the Poet as Cook, with selected recipes/Nancy Harris Brose et al, Dickinson Homestead, Amherst MA, 1976
    Dinesen, Isak (Karen Blixen): Babette's Feast
    Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: Dining with Sherlock Holmes: A Baker Street Cookbook/Julia Carlson Rosenblatt & Frederic H. Sonnenschmidt
    Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel): Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook, some recipes online.
    Fast, Howard: April Morning donkers
    Joyce, James: The Joyce of Cooking: Food & Drink from James Joyce's Dublin/Alison Armstrong
    Melville, Herman: Moby Dick Chapter 15: Chowder
    Miller, Arthur: Death of a Salesman & unturkey.
    Milne, A.A. The Pooh Cook Book/Virginia H. Ellison
    Montgomery, L. M. The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook/Kate Macdonald
    Pepys, Samuel: Dining with Samuel Pepys (skip to page 127), background material from the American Dietetic Association. Also: And So To Dine: A Brief Account of the Food & Drink of Mr. Pepys based on his Diary/S.A.E. Strom
    Potter, Beatrix: The Beatrix Potter Country Cookery Book/Margaret Lane
    Robin Hood Sherwood Forest Merry Men foods & feasts
    Shakespeare, William: feasts & foods
    Shaw, George Bernard George Bernard Shaw Vegetarian Cook Nook in six acts/Alice Laden
    Travers, P.L.: Mary Poppins in the Kitchen: A Cookery Book with a Story
    Twain, Mark: Huckleberry Finn & Twain's Feast: Searching for America's Lost Foods in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens/Andrew Beahrs
    Wilder, Laura Ingalls: The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Classic Stories/ Barbara M. Walker, Rye & Indian bread.

    Recommended reading: Novel Cuisine: Recipes from famous novels/Elaine Borish & The Literary Gourmet: Menus from Masterpieces/Linda Wolfe

    What did Huck & Jim eat while travelling down the mighty Mississippi?
    There are two kinds of foods mentioned in Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn: (1) Foods served by "civilized" people (middle class Missouri Victorians of Anglo descent) and (2) Foods of the folks who are in tune with nature (poor whites and black folks). Twain's disdain for "civilized" cuisine is evident in his negative descriptions (fake fruit, for example). Food, like the people who consume it, is purely for show. Twain's fascination with "natural" cuisine is evident in his comments connecting what people ate and why. Here he offers actual descriptions served with a side order of context.

    Food mentioned in Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn: fish, catfish, chicken, corn, corn meal, bacon, watermelon, pumpkins, "baker's bread," corn pone, corn bread, corn-beef, butter, buttermilk, corn dodgers, pork, cabbage, greens, lemonade, gingerbread, green corn, strawberries, green grapes, raspberries, blackberries, coffee, sugar, waterfowl, & pie.

    Huck's best meal:
    "I hadn't had a bite to eat since yesterday ; so Jim he got out some corn-dodgers and buttermilk, and pork and cabbage, and greens there ain't nothing in the world so good, when it's cooked right and whilst I eat my supper we talked, and had a good time."

    Additional food notes:
    "I took the sack of corn meal and took it to where the canoe was hid, and shoved the vines and branches apart and put it in ; then I done the same with the side of bacon ; then the whisky jug ; I took all the coffee and sugar there was..."

    ""Jim, this is nice," I says. " I wouldn't want to be nowhere else but here. Pass me along another hunk of fish and some hot corn-bread."

    "They peddle out such a [cat] fish as that by the pound in the market house there; everybody buys some of him ; his meat's as white as snow and makes a good fry."

    "Every night, now, I used to slip ashore, towards ten o'clock, at some little village, and buy ten or fifteen cents' worth of meal or bacon or other stuff to eat ; and sometimes I lifted a chicken that warn't roosting comfortable, and took him along. Pap always said, take a chicken when you get a chance, because if you don't want him yourself you can easy find some- body that does, and a good deed ain't ever forgot. I never see pap when he didn't want the chicken himself, but that is what he used to say, anyway. Mornings, before daylight, I slipped into corn fields and bor- rowed a watermelon, or a mush- melon, or a punkin, or some new corn, or things of that kind."

    "That night they had a big supper, and all them men and women was there, and I stood behind the king and the duke's chairs and waited on them, and the niggers waited on the rest. Mary Jane she set at the head of the table, with Susan along side of her, and said how bad the biscuits was, and how mean the preserves was, and how ornery and tough the fried chickens was and all that kind of rot, the way women always do for to force out compliments ; and the people all knowed everything was tip-top, and said so said " How do you get biscuits to brown so nice ? " and "Where, for the land's sake did you get these amaz'n pick- les?" and all that kind of hum- bug talky-talk, just the way people always does at a supper, you know."

    "It was "baker's bread" what the quality eat none of your low-down corn-pone."

    "Cold corn-pone, cold corn-beef, butter and butter-milk that is what they had for me down there, and there ain't nothing better that ever I've come across yet."

    "There was sheds made out of poles and roofed over with branches, where they had lemonade and .gingerbread to sell, and piles of watermelons and green corn and such-like truck."

    " I found plenty strawberries, ripe and prime; and green summer-grapes, and green raspberries ; and the green blackberries was just beginning to show. They would all come handy by-and-by, I judged."

    "I fetched meal and bacon and coffee, and coffee-pot and frying-pan, and sugar and tin cups, and the nigger was set back consider- able, because he reckoned it was all done with witchcraft. I catched a good big cat-fish, too, and Jim cleaned him with his knife, and fried him."

    "We shot a water-fowl, now and then..."

    Not mentioned: beans, turkey, cookies, tea, corn on the cob

    Charles Dickens
    Reading Charles Dickens and need to bring something (period, tasty, doable) to class? We recommend The Charles Dickens Cookbook/Brenda Marshall. This book offers literary excerpts featuring food (all books) with doable modernized recipes. Your local public librarian can help you get a copy or we can scan/send some easy recipes based on course (dessert?) or book (Oliver Twist?). Please note: there are several excellent
    English Victorian-era cookbooks offering modernized recipes. These work well for generic period food. If you want to recreate something young Charles might have enjoyed as a boy, biographies are your best bet. In most cases, a person's favorite food is something they have loved since they were kids.

    The three best sources for period recipes, menus and dietary concenrs are:
    1. Soyer's Cookery Book/Alexis Soyer [1840s-1850s]
    ...Chef of London's Reform Club devoted much time creating recipes for soldiers [Crimean War] and working class/poor people. Soyer's are most likely the recipes consumed by many of Dickens' charity characters [think: Oliver Twist]. Several recent reprints exist. We recommend the edition introduced by James A. Beard, David McKay:New York] 1959
    2. Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management/Isabella Beeton [1861]
    ...Matron of middle class UK cookery, Beeton is unparalleled in her kitchen notes, food costs, and everyday recipes. We recommend the Oxford World's Classics (paperback) edition because the notes explain historic context. The original version is available online, free & full-text. 3. The Workhouse Cookbook, Peter Higginbotham [2008]
    ...Decribes in detail the kinds of foods served to the poorest classes. Think: Oliver Twist. Photos, diets, nutritional analysis, selected recipes and a full reprint of the Manual of Workhouse Cookery [1901]. Sample chapter: "The 1835 Workhouse Dietary,".

    What did Charles Dickens think about American food & dining habits?
    Mr. Dickens visited the USA in 1842. Our young nation was slowly defining its culinary self. He described the folks he met as unhealthy and ill-mannered. Savages of sorts. Food historians confirm these observations made perfect sense in this particular historic context. We were (and are still?) a nation of efficient diners who didn't dally at table.

    "The most illustrious foreign visitor to the United States before the Civil War--Charles Dickens, whose first trip to America occurred in 1842, when he was thirty--has been represented as anti-American...and it has been suggested that he was prejudiced against the United States even before he landed because its copyright laws permitted publishers to pirate his books...Dickens did not devote very much space to food in his American Notes. Perhaps he did not spend enough time in the right places. He showed everywhere an almost morbid interest in visiting the local poorhouses, insane asylums and jails, none of which are noted for culinary finesse. When he does report on American cheese, he is hardly sacrificing. He was entertained at private houses in Boston, where 'the usual dinner-hour is two-o'clock. A dinner-party takes place at five; and at an evening party they seldom sup later than eleven, so that it goes hard but one gets home, even from a rout, by midnight. I could never find out any difference between a party at Boston and a party at London, saving that at the former place all assemblies are held at more rational hours; that the conversation may possibly be a little louder and more cheerful; that a guest is usually expected to ascend to the very top of the house to take his cloak off; that he is certain to see at every dinner an unusual amount of poultry on the table, and at every supper at least two mighty bowls of hot stewed oysters...A public table is laid in a very handsome hall for breakfast, and for diner, and for supper. The party sitting down together to these meals will vary in number from one to two hundred--sometimes more. The advent of each of these epochs in the day is proclaimed by an awful gong...In our private room the cloth could not, for any earthly consideration, have been laid for dinner without a huge glass dish of cranberries in the middle of the tables; and breakfast would have been no breakfast unless the principal dish were a deformed beefsteak with a great flat bone in the centre [the T-bone steak was a cut unknown in Europe] swimming in hot butter, and sprinkled with the very blackest of all possible pepper.' Dickens seems to have the greater part of his American traveling by boat; after all, canals and streams in those days were more dependable than the roads. It may well have been true that the food served on board to captive audiences was not the best the country afforded...[from] passages in Martin Chusslewit...There was...a canal boat in Pennsylvania: 'At about six o'clock all the small tables were put together to form one long table, and everybody sat down to tea, coffee, bread, butter, salmon, shad, liver, steak, potatoes, ham, chops, black-puddings and sausages...the gentlemen thrust the broad-bladed knives and the two-pronged forks farther down their throats that I ever saw the same weapons go before except in the hands of skilfil juggler. [The next morning, at eight o'clock breakfast] everybody sat down to tea, coffee, bread, butter, salmon, shad, liver, steak, potatoes, pickles, ham, chops, black-puddings, and sausages all over again...Dinner was breakfast again without the tea and coffee; and supper and breakfast were identical.'...Dickens' suspicion that the American diet was unhealthy echoed the opinion of the County of Volney, who had written that Americans deserved first prize for a diet sure to destroy teeth, stomach, and health, and advised the government, for the good of the country, to undertake an educational program to teach Americans how to eat."
    ---Eating in America: A History, Waverly Root and Richard de Rochemont [William Morrow:New York] 1976 (p. 123-125)

    "Dickens made Martin Chuzzlewit's journey from New York to the western development 'Eden' a travelogue of ill-health. Leaving a company of 'spare men with lank and rigid cheeks,' dyspeptic individuals who 'bolted their food in wedges' and fed not themselves by 'broods of nightmares,' Martin had as train companions a 'very lank' man and a 'languid and listless gentleman with hollow cheeks.'...The steamboat passengers were as 'flat, as dull, and stagnant as the vegetation that oppressed their eyes.'."
    ---The American and His Food: A History of Food Habits in the United States, Richard Osborn Cummings [University of Chicago Press:Chicago IL] 1940(p. 10-11)

    What Mr. Dickens failed to share about his first visit is that he was wined & dined by America's elite. Not all Americans were rude, crude or sported nasty attitude.

    The Dickens Dinner, City Hotel (NYC) February 18, 1842
    "In 1841-42, Charles Dickens toured America giving readings from his works. He was then twenty-nine years old, and already famous as the author of Pickwick Papers, Barnaby Rudge, Nicholas Nickelby, Oliver Twist and The Old Curiosity Shop, all of which had appeared within five years. Everywhere on the tour he was lionized by American admirers...and all but smothered under social attentions...a committee of prominent New Yorkers tendered him a banquet. The date was February 18, 1842, the place was the City Hotel, and Washington Irving presided...The occasion demanded the best on the part of the caterer, and what was served exactly reflected the ruling taste of the time. in fact, the 'Dickens dinner' was spoken of for years afterwards as a model of gastronomy. Selection of the City Hotel for the festivity was almost automatic, for it enjoyed semi-official status as the most suitable setting in New York for civic celebrations...The dining room... was spacious, airy, and well lighted, and was much used for balls and concerts...Lafayette was entertained there in 1824...its wine cellars were noted, its cuisine was considered unexcelled, and its eminent propriety in every respect was unquestioned. The Dickens dinner in 1842,...was the finest that civic pride could provide, and the bill of fare reflected the best taste of cultivated New Yorkers...Journalist style in 1842 tended to be as effluent as the diet of the day was diffuse, and the New York newspapers reporting the grand doings at the City Hotel on February 18 conformed to the conventions and language of the time; in accordance with the custom devoting only a few lines...to the dinner, although printing the text of the after-dinner speeches in three and four columns of fine type. All accounts agreed, however succinctly, that the banquet was 'in a style not surpassed by any ever partaken in this city'..."
    ---Delmonico's: A Century of Splendor, Lately Thomas [Houghton Mifflin Company:Boston] 1967 (p. 105-106)
    [NOTE: This banquet cost $2,500.]

    Dickens Dinner, Delmonico's (NYC) April 18, 1868
    "Twenty six years after he had feasted at the City Hotel, Charles Dickens returned to America on a second reading tour. The time was 1868...At the close of his tour, he made one exception to the rule of no entertainments. This was in favor of the New York Press Club, which was eager to do honor to one member of the craft who had gone on to fame and fortune. So on April 18, 1868, Dickens was the guest of the press of New York at a gala banquet. The place chosen was the only place by that date deemed proper for such and occasion--Delmonico's at Fifth Avenue and Fourteenth Street. Lorenzo Delmonico regarded that dinner with particular pride. Although it was neither the largest, nor the costliest, nor the most striking its composition, it game him special satisfaction...The banquet cost about $3,000, and the tickets sold for $15 apiece. Horace Greeley presided...The dining room exuded luxury. Deep-pile carpet muted the footfall of the waiters, damask draperies framed the windows, the gas light in the chandeliers were softly shaded, the tables flashed with crystal and silver on snowy linen and were bright with flowers...The New York World's reporter [stated] 'Confections were converted into---tempting pictures of the most familiar characters of the great novelist. Sugar was not ashamed to imitate him, and even ice cream had frozen into solid obeisance...Tiny Tim was discovered in pate de foie gras...Not only did [Delmonico] make it a Dickens dinner, he made it dinner of Dickens.'...the proof of the banquet lies in its elements and in their interrelation; and this gastronomical-literary celebration of 1868 furnishes material for a direct comparison with the banquet tastes of cultivated New York in 1842."
    ---Delmonico's: A Century of Splendor, Lately Thomas [Houghton Mifflin Company:Boston] 1967 (p. 112-115)

    Death of a Salesman/Arthur Miller
    In this play Linda has Willy make a sandwich out of "that new whipped American cheese that you like". What is this cheese and which company made it?

    The famous "whipped cheese in a jar" most people think of is Kraft's Cheez Whiz. This product could not possibly be the one referenced in "Death of a Salesman" because it was introduced in 1952, three years after the play debuted. HOWEVER, Cheese Whiz was not the first Kraft cheese product sold in jars, or "Swankyswig" glasses.

    In the 1930s, Kraft [most famous for Velveeta, 1928] introduced a line of flavored cheeses marketed in glass jars. In the 1940s Kraft products were heavily marketed to main-stream American consumers via radio, television [Kraft Television Theatre begain airing in 1947], women's magazines, and company cookbooks. Linda certainly would have heard of Kraft's products. The "cheese in a jar" spreads were marketed as economical ways to prepare "fancy meals" which is probably why she wanted the product. The product she is trying to get Willy to try was most likely a Kraft concoction.

    From Favorite Recipes from Marye Dahnke's File, Kraft-Phenix Cheese Corporation [1938]:

    Pimento Cream Spread
    --Kraft Pimiento Cream Spread is the famous "Philadelphia" Cream Cheese with finely chopped flavorfoul pimientos. Also with olives: Kraft Olive Pimento Cream Spread. Both in Swankyswig Glasses.
    Roquefort Cream Spread
    --Delicately flavored "Philadelphia" Cream Cheese and zesty Roquefort are blended toghether smoothly to give you Kraft Roquefort Cream Spread. Perfect for appetizers and sandwiches.
    Kay Spread
    --Tangy, sweet pickle and pimiento relish skillfully blended with "Philadelphia" Cream Cheese. A wonderful and delicious "all purpose" cheese spread.
    Pineapple Cream Spread
    --Lucous bits of Hawaiian pineapple with the famous "Philadelphia" Cream Cheese. A favorite with children. Grand for salads and all kinds of sandwiches. In Swankyswig Glasses.
    Teez
    --The latest hit for appetizers...Kraft's Teez! A surprise combination of "Philadelphia" Cream Cheese, Roquefort Cheese, spices, selected meats. In Swankyswig Glasses.
    Limburger
    --Kraft Limburger in Swankysiwg Glasses for picnics! Rich, full flavor. Soft, spreading texture. A popular favorite with the men folks.
    "Old English" Spread
    --Deliciously sharp, tangy, spreadable. Wonderful for appetizers as well as sandwiches. in Swankyswig glasses.
    What were "Swankyswig" glasses?
    Clear glass jars with beveled designs that could be repurposed as juice glasses. General size=5 ounces. 1938 product picture
    here. Product is still viable. 2013 Swankyswig jar here.

    world hunger
    Feeding Minds, Fighting Hunger, Food and Agriculture Organization, lessons for all grades
    World hunger, grades 9-12, Utah Education Network

    Need to find pictures of a specific food?
    If you need a couple of pictures to illustrate your report/lesson plan? We recommend
    Google Images. NOTE: all photos on the Internet are the propert (copyright) of the artist and/or site owner. It is good form to request permission before using.

    Cooking utensils, appliances & dinnerware
    Antiques catalogs (300 Years of Kitchen Collectibles/Linda Campbell Franklin, Kovel's, Lyle's, old Sears catalogs) and EBay are good for these. If you need something specific? There are books specializing in product collectibles (Coca Cola), company items (Wedgewood), and period.

    History of U.S. dietary recommendations (resource material)
    Wilbur Olin Atwater, U.S. Department of Agriculture, published our country's first food compostion tables in 1894. The first daily food guides published by the U.S.D.A. appeared in 1916. The initial recommendations consisted of five groupings: meat & milk, vegetables & fruits, cereals, fats & fat foods, and sugars & sugary foods. In the 19th century USA folks had a pretty good idea of what they considered a "square meal." US dietary recommendations sometimes adopted shape illustrations (think: Food Pyramid) to make basic nutrition concepts easyto understand.

    The original U.S.D.A. recommendations have been overhauled five times: "12 Groups" [1933], "Basic Seven" [1942], "Basic Four" [1956] the "Food Guide Pyramid" [1992] and "Dietary Guidelines for Americans" [2005]. New groupings and interim adjustments reflect advances in nutrition science.

    Historic dietary recommendations

    Does this information effect USA eating habits? Cornell's Food & Brand Lab has the answers.


    "New World" foods
    Identifying "Old" from "New" world foods can be complicated. Some foods (grapes, beans) are indigenous to both worlds. The difference is botanical variety. Some foods were mislabled by European colonists (blueberries looked alot like bilberries). Origins of others were confused when they were intoduced to European tables (Turkey). Today's yams and Sweet potatoes are marketed as the same vegetable but their origins are worlds apart. These foods offer unique perspectives of the journey of food. Bon appetit!

    chocolate
    vanilla (Mexico)
    maize (corn)
    squash
    wild rice
    sweet potatoes
    winter squash
    blueberries
    cranberries
    grapes
    black walnuts
    pecans
    chestnuts
    potatoes
    sweet potatoes
    tomatoes
    haricot beans (lima, kidney, navy &c.)
    cassava (tapioca)
    pumpkins
    chayote
    groundnut (aka peanut)
    turkey
    cassava, manioc & cassareep
    pineapples
    avocados
    papayas (paw-paws)
    capsicium (chili peppers)
    American bison
    Jerusalem artichokes
    pine nuts
    allspice
    sassafras
    hickory nuts
    allspice
    maple sugar
    SOURCES: Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 2 (p. 146-7)& The Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson, 2nd edition edited by Tom Jaine [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2006 (map page 1)

    Additional information

    Breakfast cereal inventory
    How many breakfast cereals are there in USA supermarkets today? Great question! Let's start by defining "how many:" (1) different brands (2) number of boxes in an average supermarket on a given day...which could be multiplied by #supermarkets in the US for approximate total number.

    The US Patent & Trademarl databases lets you access all trademarks 1976--present. Advanced search features let you filter only "live" trademarks. All trademarks are classified by topic. Goods & services field ("ready to eat breakfast cereal") works best for this project.

    Select Trademarks
    Select a search option: Basic work mark search (TESS)
    Click "live" (because you only want only currently registered tradmarks)
    Search term: "ready to eat breakfast cereal"
    The result? 1098 different "live" breakfast cereal brands in 2013.
    [NOTE: Live trademark does not mean a product with that name is currently in production. Sometimes a company will file (or purchase) for trademark/tradename protection in hopes of future use. Think: Hostess Twinkies.]

    Breakfast cereal invetory/Foodtown Cedar Knolls, NJ, April 13, 2013
    This list reflects the mainstream breakfast cereal aisle; does not include niche aisles (organic, ethnic). Data can be useful from several angles: local demographics, consumer preference, brands with the longest staying power, packaging (bags, boxes, cardboard canisters, personal packs, microwave bowls), & economics (price/ounce). Number in parentheses indicates different flavors of same product.
    # Food Companies=26
    # Brands=106
    # Brands & flavor variations=256 (eg, 5 different kinds of Cheerios)

    ALPEN
    All Natural Muesli (2)
    B & G FOODS NORTH AMERICA
    Cream of Rice
    Cream of Wheat (4)
    BARBARA PUFFINS NATURAL
    Granola (6)
    BEAR NAKED
    Granola (14)
    BOB'S RED MILL
    Flaxseed (3)
    Wheat Bran
    Wheat Germ
    CASCADE FARMS
    America's Favorite Granola (5)
    ENVIROKIDZ ORGANIC
    Amazon
    Koala Krisp
    FARINA MILLS
    Farina
    FOODTOWN (store brand)
    Bran Flakes
    Crispy Hexagons
    Fruit Rings
    Healthy Mornings
    Honey & Nut Tasteeos
    Koo-Cies
    Magic Stars
    Puffed Rice
    Puffed Wheat
    GENERAL MILLS
    Cheerios (5)
    Cheerios Multigrain (5)
    Cinnamon Toast Crunch (2)
    Cookie Crisp
    Corn Chex
    Fiber One (6)
    Golden Grahams
    Kix
    Lucky Charms
    Oatmeal Crisp
    Reese's Puffs
    Rice Chex
    Wheat Chex (3)
    Wheaties
    Total (3)
    Trix
    HEARTLAND
    Granola (6)
    HODGSON MILL
    oats (2)
    HOMESTAT FARM
    Maypo
    Wheatena
    KASHI
    Go Lean (2)
    Golden instant hot cereal (2)
    Heart to Heart (6)
    Seven Whole Grain (10)
    KELLOGG'S
    All Bran (3)
    Apple Jacks
    Cocoa Crisps
    Cocoa Puffs
    Corn Flakes
    Corn Pops
    Crispix
    Fiber Plus (2)
    Froot Loops
    Frosted Flakes
    Mini Wheats (10)
    Mueslix
    Raisin Bran (3)
    Scooby-Doo
    Smart Start
    Special K (8)
    Crunchy Nut (3)
    Variety Pack (10 individual personal boxes)
    KIND HEALTHY GRAINS
    Granola (3)
    MALT O MEAL
    Apple Zings
    Berry Colossal Crunch
    Better Oats Organic (10)
    Cinnamon Toasters
    Coco Roos
    Dyno-Bites (2)
    Frosted Flakes
    Golden Puffs
    Honey Nut Scooters
    Marshmallow Mateys
    Minispooners (2)
    Tootie Fruities
    MCCANN' IRISH OATMEAL (7)
    MOM'S BEST CEREALS (7)
    NATURE'S PATH ORGANIC
    Granola (2)
    NEWMAN'S OWN
    Sweet Enough (2)
    POST [OWNED BY GENERAL FOODS/KRAFT]
    Alpha-Bits
    Blueberry Morning
    Bran Flakes
    Fruity Pebbles (4)
    Golden Crisp
    Grape Nut Flakes
    Grape Nuts (2)
    Great Grains (5)
    Honey Bunches of Oats (9)
    Honeycomb
    Sesame Street (2)
    Shredded Wheat (4)
    Waffle Crisp
    QUAKER OATS
    Cap'n Crunch (4)
    Instant Grits
    Life (4)
    Lowfat Granola
    Oat Bran
    Oatmeal
    Oatmeal Squares
    Puffed Rice
    Quisp
    Whole Hearts
    SILVER PALATE
    Oatmeal
    SUN COUNTRY FOODS
    Kretschmer Wheat Germ (2)
    WEETABIX
    Weetabix Whole Grain Cereal

    Breakfast cereal history & prices.


    FoodTimeline library owns 2000+ books, hundreds of 20th century USA food company brochures, & dozens of vintage magazines (Good Housekeeping, American Cookery, Ladies Home Journal &c.) We also have ready access to historic magazine, newspaper & academic databases. Service is free and welcomes everyone. Have questions? Ask!

    About culinary research & about copyright
    Research conducted by Lynne Olver, editor The Food Timeline. About this site.


    http://www.foodtimeline.org/food2a.html
    © Lynne Olver 1999
    5 July 2014