Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Look Back at the Food and Drink of 1916

What a difference a century can make! In 1916, J.L. Kraft received his first patent for making process cheese; the first electric refrigerators went on sale for the whopping price of $900, and the first self-serve Piggly-Wiggly supermarket opened in Memphis, Tennessee.

Dining Out
Dining out was just coming into vogue during this time. According to the Food Administration, more food was being served and eaten in restaurants than in homes. Courtship etiquette was changing; now a single working woman could meet a man at a restaurant for an afternoon or evening out. Hotel restaurants, lunch counters and tea rooms were popular places to enjoy a meal.

Menu items seldom seen on a modern dining list included consommé, turtle soup, sweetbreads, paupiette of sheep’s head, mutton, fricassee of chicken and venison along with Delmonico pudding, Indian pudding, and bisque ice cream for dessert.

Snacks and street food could be found in larger cities. Vendors with pushcarts or horse-drawn wagons sold freshly roasted peanuts or ice cream.

Classic Cocktails
The attitude against drinking was rapidly spreading across the country. Restaurants quickly crafted menus sans alcohol, offering instead tea, coffee, milk and "punch."

Those restaurants and hotels that continued to cater to the “drinking crowd” upped the ante and began serving cocktails with glamorous names. Here are just a few that were all the rage during 1915-1916. 

Aviation Cocktail
In celebration of manned flight, the Aviation Cocktail was created by Hugo Ensslin, the head bartender at the Hotel Wallick in New York in 1916. Ensslin made it with lemon juice, gin, Crème do Violette (which created the adored violet color), and maraschino over ice.

Dry Martini
The Dry Martini was crafted in the early 20th Century, so the story goes, at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York. Popular variations now include the Dirty Martini and the Vodka Martini.

French 75
The French 75 cocktail’s origins date back to 1915 at the New York Bar in Paris. Bartender Harry MacElhone mixed together gin, Champagne lemon juice and sugar for a drink that imbibers said kicked like a French 75mm field gun. Later variations of the drink used cognac instead of gin to make it more French.

The Alexander
Hugo Ensslin also crafted the Alexander cocktail abound 1915 using gin, crème de cacao and sweet cream. The well-known Brandy Alexander was an offshoot from his original recipe.

If you were ordering an alcoholic drink from a restaurant menu, the choices were usually limited to beer, wine punch, or Champagne. But cigars and cigarettes were given specially appointed places on some menus.

My how times have changed, but it makes you wonder, what will menus include, and omit, in 2116?


~ Joy