Food Facts & Lore, Monday Magazine

This Week in Food History – 03/06/2017



They were first sold by a Hoboken, New Jersey grocer 105 years ago today. They are the world’s most popular cookies, present on the shelves of food markets in well over 100 countries. Most people take them apart to eat them. If you guessed Oreo, you’re right on the button… hmm, the cookie. The classic chocolate Oreo was not the only flavor at the time, but its counterpart, a lemon meringue Oreo, did not have nearly as much success and was discontinued in the 1920’s. The first package was sold on this day in 1912, making today National Oreo Cookie Day.

Other Noteworthy Food Celebrations This Week…

March 7: National Cereal Day
The breakfast cereal is a 19th Century American invention. Its first inspiration was a desire to aid digestion. By the time of Boomers it had become a sugary snack. The first cereal was created in 1863 by James Caleb Jackson who ran a sanitarium in Western New York. It was so hard it had to be soaked in milk overnight. John Harvey Kellogg perfected the recipe to make a more palatable product he served at his Michigan health spa. C.W. Post, another famous cereal name you surely recognize, was a patient at Kellogg’s spa. He invented Grape-Nuts.

March 8: National Peanut Cluster Day
The journey of the peanut is noteworthy. South America is their land of origin. Spanish and Portuguese traders introduced them to West Africa beginning in the 1500’s, where they became one of the most important crops. Little peanut made its way back to the New World and the Southern States via the slave trade of the late 1600’s. 300 years or so later, American inventor Elmo Lanzi patented a Chocolate Peanut Cluster Dipping Machine.

March 9: National Meatball Day
We love meatballs and spaghetti. It is, after all, an American creation. The classic, Italian version of the meatball is consumed on its own, served in a light broth. It is also minuscule compared to our own classic meatball, about the size of marbles. The meats used vary per region. Fish and turkey are as likely a choice as beef is for us in America. These polpettes, as they are named, do not appear as a garnish for pasta in Italian restaurants. They are served almost exclusively in homes.

March 10: National Pack Your Lunch Day
If you read this on a Monday and happen to live nearby, this National Food Holiday kills two birds with one stone (someone has to come up with a different expression to say this). Meanwhile, here’s the plan. Head over to Jeffersonville Pizza Department for dinner tomorrow and take advantage of their Tuesday Night Special: You get to ask for a FREE small CHEESE PIZZA with any large. The large is dinner. The small is inspiration for Friday’s bagged lunch. It makes a tasty side to a good salad, or turn two slices into a sandwich. Don’t like the crusts? Good. Save them for the birds, as a gesture of kindness to make up for that rather aggressive expression used earlier in this paragraph.

March 11: Johnny Appleseed Day
John Chapman passed away 172 years ago this month. As is fitting for a legend, he is better known by a name that honors his good deeds, Johnny Appleseed. His insight and leadership in nature conservation helped shape the American landscape, one apple at a time, so to speak. He introduced the colorful fruit-bearing tree to West Virginia, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania. It is said that he became legend long before his last day on this earth, for his remarkable kindness as much as for his works.

March 12: National Baked Scallops Day
In spite of their lack of limbs and being cooped up in a shell, scallops move about the sea floor with remarkable speed and agility, propelling themselves by rapidly opening and closing their shells. In fact, it is the abductor muscle responsible for this movement that we find in Coquille Fruits de Mer, a delicious variation on the Coquille Saint Jacques theme. Pilgrims traveling to the aforementioned saint’s shrine carried a scallop shell they used to receive offerings of food along the way. Hence the name and unique story of the tasty mollusk.

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…