Food Facts & Lore, Monday Magazine

This Week in Food History – 02/06/2017


Predictions for the 2017 Super Bowl audience reached over 115 million people. It is doubtful that any of the good folks riveted to their big screens this weekend consumed Jell-O during the game. In fact, most did not even know that February 5 would mark another kick-off of significance this weekend: National Jell-O Week. The colorful celebration takes place on the second week of February each year since 2001. In fact, Jell-O is the official snack of Utah, and there’s an official resolution supporting this. Read all about it HERE.

Jell-O became popular in the 1950’s and 60’s, the age of Baby Boomers; a time when convenience was also coming into fashion. Dessert that made the kids happy and only required the addition of water was a win-win. Traditional flavors are the result of trial and error, including such thankfully discontinued flavors as tomato, Root Beer, celery and bubble gum. Jell-O was invented in LeRoy, New York, in 1897. And there’s a museum to prove it: Jello-O Museum.

Other Momentous Happenings This Week…

February 6, 1788
Massachusetts became the sixth state to ratify the Constitution. As to the table fare of the time, a clue is offered in a 1992 publication titled, Taste of the States: A Food History of America: “At home the thrifty New Englanders found dozens of uses for cod, either fresh or dried or salted. They used cod to make fish cakes, chowder, boiled dinners, and fish hash.”

February 7, 1804
Birth of John Deere. The same image of the famous toy tractor pops to mind regardless of your age. Deere would develop the first steel plow in 1838. Farm yields grew ten-fold within only two decades.

February 8, 1896
Georges Feydeau’s “Le Dindon” premieres in Paris. Dindon is French for Turkey. In the playwright’s time, “turkey” was a slang term referring to a man who was caught cheating by his wife. The English version of the famous play would be known as “The Dupe,” with subtitle, “Sauce for the Goose.” The play was a farce about the consequences of getting caught, of course. This style of play is a favorite exploration of social commentary to this day.

February 9, 1894
Hershey’s Chocolate Company was founded. It was a subsidiary of Milton S. Hershey’s Lancaster Caramel Company. The Hershey Bar would be introduced in 1900. It is said to be one of the most recognized emblems of an American Institution.

February 10, 1957
Invention of the Styrofoam cooler. If you were born in the 1960’s, you most certainly remember traveling to the grocery store on the way to a camping trip or picnic to pick up sandwich fixings and the white cooler that was synonymous with a day of freedom. You probably begged to carry it too. Like the Hershey Bar, it would become an American icon.

February 11, 1809
American engineer Robert Fulton patents the steamboat. He developed the first commercial steamboat to take passengers round-trip from New York City to Albany in 1807. The 300-mile round-trip aboard The North River Steamboat took 64 hours. Steamboat tours would later be dubbed “luxurious orgies” due to the lavish decor and “piles of food” displayed on long, linen-clad tables with a waiter at nearly every traveler’s elbow.

February 12,
National PB & J Day. Let’s glorify it. Here are 10 variations to make you fall in love with this nutritious snack, or make you curious about it for the first time. Have you tried any of these?

PB & J Crepes
PB & J French Toast
PB & J with Bacon
PB & J with Sliced Apples and Walnuts
PB & J with Crushed Cereal
PB & J with Pomegranate Seed
PB & Ginger Jelly with Grated Orange Rind
PB & J with Popcorn
PB & J Wraps with Granola (we’re definitely trying this one)
PB & J Rice Krispies Treats (just layer it, and we’re trying this one too)

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…