This Week in Food History – 07/17/2017

FAQ: Where do you find all the information you post here ever week? Ah, a good chef never reveals his secret recipes! … But we’re more than happy to share our recipe for these Food Holiday nibbles. In fact, one of our favorite food history sources, The Nibble is, “Your personal scout, telling you about the new, the noteworthy and the amazing specialty foods and gourmet foods.” And it is far more than this. The authors’ mission is an ambitious feast. It would be impossible to do it justice in this short paragraph. What’s more, it would deprive you of the pleasure of tasting it for yourself. Suffice it to say, they love food and are dedicated to accurate and tasteful research. This is just one of our trusted sources of inspiration. We’ll share more next week.

Meanwhile, here are this week’s noteworthy Food Highlights… 

July 17 is National Peach Ice Cream Day – Did you know? The ice cream cone was popularized by accident in 1904. When an ice cream vendor at the St. Louis World Fair ran out of dishes, a nearby Syrian waffle maker came to the rescue, rolling his fried dough into cones to use as a scoop. Ever noticed the aftertaste from eating ice cream with a spoon? Professional tasters use gold spoons to assess the quality of ice cream. Gold does not leave an aftertaste. Last, but not least, approximately 50 licks are required to eat a single scoop cone… and you just made a mental note to count next time.

July 18 is National Caviar Day – Eggs from the sturgeon are the only ones recognized under the appellation “caviar.” Interestingly, the sturgeon is one of the most ancient species of fish. It has been around for at least 250 million years. The Egyptians and the Greeks pickled fish eggs over 2000 years ago. In his writings, Aristotle describes the fish egg platters, lavishly decorated with flowers, served at the conclusion of a feast. The word “caviar” is believed to be of Persian origin. It means “piece of power.” Fish eggs were thought to have medicinal properties.

July 19 is National Daiquiri Day – Rum-based cocktails gained popularity during WWII, a time when grain rations led to restrictions on beer and whiskey. The drink is named after a beach in Santiago, Cuba. An American engineer named Jennings Cox invented the recipe around 1900. There are at least 5 versions to this story. Have a drink, sit back and look it up. It is certain to take your mind off any nagging concerns for a bit. You may even dream up a beach vacation, cocktail glass in hand and a blank to-do list reaching as far as the horizon.

July 20 is Fortune Cookie Day – No one agrees on the true beginnings of the Fortune Cookie. There should probably be a fortune cookie about this. The most probable origin may be an early 1900’s bakery in Little Tokyo, a district of Los Angeles. According to written accounts, Seiichi Kito, founder of the establishment, was known for his sweet confections and is credited with the invention of the folded treat. Fortunes written on slips of papers in Japanese Buddhist temples may have inspired him. His Fortune Cookies were sold to Chinese restaurants across America.

July 21 is National Junk Food Day – What was the first “junk food” anyway? Picture this, 1893, the Chicago World Fair. Brothers Louis and Frederick Rueckheim showcase their uncommon concoction: molasses doused peanuts and popcorn. Instant hit. Three years later, it would be known as Cracker Jack and become the best-selling treat world-wide. Fast forward to late-20th century, when foodies coined “junk food” as, “food that is sweet and offers a high content of empty calories,” and cited Cracker Jack as a key example.

July 22 is National Penuche Fudge Day – Penuche is the name given to fudge made with brown sugar, butter, milk and vanilla. Story goes, 1924-25 season Boston Bruins player Mark Penuche loved maple syrup. Since brown sugar fudge does taste a bit like maple syrup, the sweet-toothed legend’s name seemed appropriate. Only problem is, the name does not appear anywhere on the entire Bruins player roster. The complicate matters even further, Penuche fudge is most famous in New England, and the name probably comes from “panocha,” a Mexican word meaning “raw sugar.”

July 23 is National Hot Dog Day – How do you like your hot dogs? Traditional, or inspired? Here are eight uncommon garnishes some equally uncommon diners across America actually serve; and people love them:

  • Caramel popcorn
  • Blue Cheese and celery
  • Pepperoni and marinara (that’s a good one)
  • Bacon and fried onions
  • Black bean salsa
  • Doritos
  • Grilled pineapple
  • Thai shrimp

Thanks for reading. Liked what you learned here? Please share it. Also visit 158 Main and JPD on Facebook and See you here next week for more historical nibbles…