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A few brief histories of some of your favorite foods (10 Photos)
In the early days of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, lobsters were so abundant that they would wash up in 2-foot-high piles. They were so easy to grab that people considered them trash food only fit for servants and prisoners. Rumor even has it that some people in Massachusetts revolted and the colony was forced to sign contracts promising that indentured servants wouldn’t be fed lobster more than 3 times a week.
As railways started to spread through America, transportation managers realized that if people didn’t know what lobster was, trains could serve it to inland passengers as if it were a rare and exotic delicacy, and the rest is a very well-marketed history.
The use of the popular candies wasn’t always so childlike. 70 years ago in Vienna, they were created as a peppermint candy and marketed as a cigarette substitute. In fact, PEZ was derived from the German word for peppermint, pfefferminz.
A pregnant wife actually inspired this world-famous dish. Alfredo di Lelio’s young bride lost her appetite when she was pregnant and needed to gain weight. Di Lelio owned a restaurant in Rome, and created the simple meal to try and get her to eat, and she ended up loving it.
Pickles can date back as far as 2030 BC, when cucumbers from their native India were pickled in the Tigris Valley. in 50 BC, Queen Cleopatra credited pickles with making her beautiful and healthy. Her lover Julius Caesar gave them to troops in belief that it would make them strong.
Jews living in Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Russia considered kosher dill pickles a staple in their diet, and when they arrived in the US during the late 1800s, they introduced them to Americans.
Corned Beef and Cabbage
Traditionally, boiled bacon was the food of choice on St. Paddy’s day for the Irish. When Irish immigrants came to the US, they couldn’t afford the high price of pork products, so they turned to the cheapest cut of meat: beef brisket. Since the US was a melting pot of cultures, the adopted cooking techniques from other countries, and instead of boiling it they brined the brisket like the Eastern Europeans. As for the “corned” part? It has nothing to with corn but actually refers to the corn-sized salt crystals used in the brining process.
If you’ve ever eaten this while you’re hungover, you’re in good company with its inventor. In 1894, a Wall Street aristocrat, Lemuel Benedict (who was known to sport a racoon-skin coat and cane), ordered poached eggs, buttered toast, bacon, and a pitcher full of hollandaise sauce as room service at the Waldorf Hotel. Needing something to sop up the alcohol in his belly, he figured somehow that these ingredients would do the trick. The hotel’s restaurant Oscar Tschirky tried the concoction and decided it should be on the Waldorf’s menu.
The beginning of the waffle’s long history starts out in Ancient Greece when they made small cakes between hot iron plates. As they spread in popularity throughout medieval Europe, they were known as wafers. By the 13th century they began to be stamped with various designs such as family crests and landscape scenes. The Dutch brought the breakfast food to the New World and by that time they were called “wafles.” It was Thomas Jefferson, however who brought the first long-armed waffle iron home form France in 1789, and a fad for waffle parties sparked in the US.
Legend has it that the pretzel started in the year 610, when Italian monks gave their students treats of baked dough twisted in the shape of crossed arms, which was the traditional posture for prayer. As the custom spread through medieval Europe, the 3 holes of the pretzel began to represent the Holy Trinity, and the snack became a bit of a good luck token.
Patricia Taylor, daughter of the late Arnold Reuben, told “New York Times” that an actress friend of Charlie Chaplin walked into Reuben’s deli and said, “Reuben, make me a sandwich, make it a combination, I’m so hungry I could eat a brick.” With that motivation, Reuben stacked up the legendary ingredients for the first time. The actress liked it so much that she said, “Gee, Reuben, this is the best sandwich I ever ate. You ought to cal it the Annette Seelos Special.” Taylor says her father then responded, “Like hell I will, I’ll call it the Reuben’s Special!”
The origins of the falsely-named food date back to 16th century Belgium. According to Belgian tales, poor villagers often fried small fish from the river. When the river froze over during the winter, the villagers were forced to fry up potatoes instead.
During WWI, American soldiers were stationed in Belgium and were first introduced to the food. Since the official language of the Belgian Army was French, they nicknamed the delicious potatoes “french fries.”