The History Behind Five of America’s Favorite Foods
Some believed that the concept of hamburgers started in the 13th century with the Mongols when the warriors would stash raw meat under their saddles to soften and cook the meat. Later on, Moscow adapted a raw version which was known as steak tartare. The Russians then brought the recipe to Germany during the 17th century, arriving via the port of Hamburg. In 1747 the word ‘steak’ was included in the Oxford English dictionary after it was featured as a sausage in a cookbook titled, T he Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy.
Forty years later, German immigrants fled political revolutions and it’s said that the Hamburg steak was eaten on the ships that took them to the U.S. The Hamburg steak’s first American debut was when it featured in a Delmonico’s menu in New York City. A few years later, Frank and Charles Menches from New York and Charlie Nagreen from Wisconsin, claimed to be the steak’s creators and served a version of the steak, patty-on-a-bun style at their local fairs.
White Castle became the first burger chain restaurant in Kansas in 1921 after owners, Walter Anderson and Edgar Ingram created a special bun for the burger in 1916. The first burger with cheese appeared on an O’Dell’s Diner menu over in Los Angeles in 1928 and in 1935 the word ‘cheeseburger’ was coined by Denver’s Humpty Dumpty Drive-In. Hamburgers have had their history spread across America so it’s no wonder they became such an iconic favorite.
2. Apple Pie
Is there anything more American than a good old fashioned apple pie? Yes, because apple pies aren’t actually American. Apples themselves aren’t native to America. When colonists came over, the only apple trees they found were crabapple trees. If anything is known about these hard little fruits, it’s that they’re too sour to make any decent pie with.
As far as pies themselves, they were already a prominent part of England’s food culture by the late 14th century. At the time, apple pies were traditionally made without crusts because of the high prices of sugar. Dutch bakers came up with the traditional lattice-style crust for the pie but not until the 15th century. One hundred years later, apple pies could be found across Europe, Italy, Germany, and France. The dessert was believed to be brought over by Swedish, Dutch, and British immigrants and apple pies
So how did apple pie become considered such a treasured American dessert today? The longest running theory begins with a man named John Chapman who was born in Massachusetts in 1774. Better known as JohnnyAppleseed, his story begins with his travel through America planting apple orchards mainly in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Despite Johnny Appleseed’s eccentric behavior, he was quite smart. He didn’t plant his seeds at random, because later on he sold the land at a higher price due to the newly growing fruit trees. By association, his apples became ‘“American” apples and now America has become one of the largest producers of apples and has deemed the apple pie as a classic American dessert.
Macaroni and Cheese
Quite possibly one of America’s favorite comfort foods, the word macaroni is derived from the Greek word Makaria meaning, something made of barley. This classic combination of pasta and dairy has a vast history but it became a common dish across most of Europe in 1769. It was around this time that Thomas Jefferson sailed back to Europe to make a treaty with France. The popularity of macaroni and cheese is accredited to Jefferson because he loved the dish so much. The story goes that Thomas Jefferson sent a pasta machine over from Italy, macaroni shaped die, parmesan, and all. The unknown reality is that English, French, andItalian immigrants who were already living in America could have been eating the pasta, cheese, and butter dish long before Jefferson had a taste for it.
One of the most famous brands of mac and cheese came with the Great Depression. A dairy company in Chicago, Illinois came up with a way to produce a cheap recipe for the favored pasta dish. Kraft’s Macaroni & Cheese came about in 1937 and was selling boxes for only 19 cents. Since then, mac and cheese has takenAmerica by storm. It has undergone many changes and has been met with countless homemade concoctions.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that these must-have baseball snacks are not truly American. The history ofhot dogs starts with the idea of sausages. Legend has it that the first sausage was created by one ofEmperor Nero’s cooks who stuck an improperly cleansed pig with a knife. It’s said that the puffed up, emptypig intestines fell out and upon the cook’s new discovery, he stuffed the casings with ground meat andspices.
A few hundred years later, the sausage has made its way to Germany, who adopted the wiener as its own. In the 1800s a lot of German immigrants came to the New World with their own traditional foods. It’s believed that the first hot dog was sold by a German immigrant named Charles Felton, who opened the first hot dog stand in Coney Island in 1870. As Feltman’s business grew, one of his own employees got the idea to star this own hot dog stand in 1916. Nathan Handwerker, a Polish immigrant, sold his hot dogs for half the price of his his competitor and put Feltman out of business. Soon his hot dogs became famous nationwide and now hot dogs are seen as one of America’s quintessential foods.
5. Reuben Sandwich The story behind who invented the Reuben sandwich is a lengthy one. Elizabeth Weil writes her grandfather’s story and how he is the true creator of the Reuben Sandwich. ( http://www.saveur.com/reuben-sandwich-origin-history) What does a Rueben sandwich consist of? Weil’s grandfather, Bernard Schimmel,
How did this sandwich get its name? Well, Weil says that her great-grandfather owned a hotel called the Blackstone Hotel. He invited his friends in Omaha, Nebraska together at the hotel to play poker. When the men got hungry, Weil’s grandfather, who managed the hotel’s kitchen, made snacks for the players. For one player namedReuben Kulakofsky, Schimmel made the corned beef sandwich. Not only did Reuben like the sandwich, but everyone else did as well and that’s why it’s named a Reuben sandwich. The Kulakofsky family claimed that the occurrence happened differently. They contended that Schimmel only presented the poker players with a deli platter and Reuben made his own sandwich. To that, Weil’s simply stated that the sandwich was pressed. Did the poker room include a panini maker? At the very least it’s something to think about.
Aside from that debate, a food historian, Andrew Smith was determined to prove that the Reuben sandwich was aNew York creation. He claimed that a 1941 menu from Arnold Reuben’s sandwich shop on East 58th Street in NewYork City, features a sandwich called, Annette Seelo’s Special that consisted of ham, cheese, turkey, coleslaw, and dressing. There was also a recipe for a Reuben in a cookbook written by an author who was from New York. Smith noted in an email to Weil that if she could come up with documentation of a menu that featured a Reuben sandwich before the year 1941, he would retract his former statement. Until then, Smith was claiming the Reuben for New York. Through highly extensive research, Weil’s husband was able to uncover two menus from the 1930s that offered a Reuben sandwich. After being presented with their findings, Smith wrote that the menus, “indeed support your grandfather’s claim to naming a sandwich!”
That’s Elizabeth Weil’s story and she’s sticking to it. Regardless of how the sandwich got its name, it’s become apopular dish in America and it can be found in deli’s across the country.
So there you have it, five of America’s favorite foods and the history of how they came to be loved by Americans.There is a whole list of foods that rank as classic favorites, what are some of yours?