Jest A Moment: Celebrating Food History in October
Tongue-in-cheek speculation on food origins
In his humorous take on food origins and history, Nick Thomas offers insights into how some popular world food dishes might have been created. Just don’t quote Thomas’ findings in your term paper – save them for your next round of dad jokes instead.
Sure, watching our diet is well-advised as we get older. But with World Food Day falling on October 16, that’s all the excuse I need to indulge in extra slices of cheesecake throughout the month. I would also like to acknowledge this delectable date by highlighting some lesser-known moments in world food history:
AD 79: Lone survivor of Mt. Vesuvius eruption relocates to find work in Italian bakery and the lava cake is born.
1195: King Richard, recovering from severe bout of acne, meets with royal cook to discuss menu for upcoming banquet. Meeting inspires cook to create popular new British pudding dish: Spotted Dick.
1453: Chef to brutal Romanian ruler Vlad the Impaler invents the shish kabob.
1805: Admiral Lord Nelson inadvertently creates name for popular breakfast meal when asked to predict the outcome of England’s naval campaign with France in the Battle of Trafalgar. “French? Toast!” he reportedly quips.
1894: Podiatrist brother of John Harvey Kellogg suggests use for his growing collection of calluses scraped from patients’ feet and Corn Flakes was created.
20th-century culinary creations
1905: After 999 attempts to label new creamy sauce for salads, creator finally settles on name for popular mayonnaise-based tangy ‘island’ dressing.
1909: Absent-minded Idaho chef prepares the first twice-baked potato.
1912: Rotund US President William Howard Taft stops by White House kitchen for evening snack, but inadvertently sits on cheese and tomato quiche left on chair. Observant staff chef immediately resigns to establish first American pizza franchise.
1919: Airline company serves first in-flight meal to passengers during London to Paris route creating what would universally become known as plain food.
1937: Group of US senators talk endlessly on the Senate floor during first filibuster and the waffle is invented.
1942: Moe, Larry, and Curly develop fastest known pie delivery service.
1953: Swanson markets the first TV dinner ensuring the proliferation of couch potatoes for generations.
1971: Post Cereal corporation introduces Fruity Pebbles. Despite high mineral content, product largely unpopular with consumers until company replaces the small fruit-infused pieces of granite with more palatable flavored crisp rice bits.
Nick Thomas has written features, columns, and interviews for numerous newspapers and magazines. See www.getnickt.org.