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Food We Love and How They Were Discovered– Part III

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TR Robertson – When you look at all the different food selections offered on menus of the restaurants scattered around the world, there is a story behind each of the dishes they offer. The story concerns the origin of the original dish offered. Some background stories are remarkably interesting and unique, and some are just stories of a chefs experiment that was a success. Many of our favorite foods go back thousands of years. Many are recent. As the Food We Love continues, enjoy finding out more about those things you enjoy eating the most.

Burritos – Burritos date back to 10,000 BC. When corn tortillas were used as food wraps by ancient civilizations. The Pueblo people of the Southwest Americas first wrapped beans and meat in the maize tortillas, a food still enjoyed today. Burritos would first appear on a restaurant menu in the 1930’s at El Cholo Spanish Café in Los Angeles. National Burrito Day is April 5th.

Breakfast Burritos – The popular morning items was first seen on a New Mexico diner, Tia Sophia’s, in Santa Fe in 1975. They supposedly existed prior to this as a morning food item in family’s homes. A version of the breakfast burrito became popular on the McDonald’s menu in the early 1980’s. National Breakfast Burrito Day is April 1st.

Onion Rings – The recipe for a type of onion ring first appeared in the Middletown New York Daily Times on January 13, 1910. Another story says Kirby’s Pig Stand Restaurant in Oak Cliff, Texas, offered onion rings in the 1920’s. An 1802 cookbook by John Mollard has a recipe for Fried Onions with Parmesan Cheese, minus the coating on the onions. National Onion Ring Day is June 22nd.

Beef Wellington – There are numerous stories about this delicious steak dish wrapped in puff pastry. One story says there is no definite connection to Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. Another story says the dish was prepared for the Dukes victory at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. In 1899 there is a reference that a cruise line offered this dish on their menu. The name of the dish was mentioned in an article in the LA Times in 1903. Whatever the correct story, it is nice that someone prepared this dish. National Beef Wellington Day is April 6th.

Beef Stroganoff – This noodle dish appears on the tables of the Stroganov Family of Russia in the late 19th century. By 1891, recipes begin to appear in various books and newspapers around Europe. National Beef Stroganoff Day is September 21st.

Corn Dogs – Several stories on when this deep fried coated hot dog appeared. The Cozy Dog Drive-in says they were the first to put the hot dog on a stick in 1946. Carl and Neil Fletcher said they offered the breaded hot dog at the Texas State Fair in 1938, no stick. The Minnesota State Fair also claims presenting the hot dog brought to the Fair by German/Texas immigrants. There was a patent issued in 1929 to Krusty Korn Dog for a corn dog machine. The popular Hot Dog on a Stick chain appeared in 1946 at Muscle Beach in Santa Monica. National Corn Dog Day is March 20.

Brownies – The most accepted story about the first appearance of Brownies says a socialite wanted a dessert item for the box lunches she was preparing for women attending the Women World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The cake-like items came with walnuts and an apricot glaze made at the Palmer House Hotel. Other recipes first appeared in 1896 and 1899 for a brownie-like cake, but the first true brownie recipe appeared in the Hoe Cookery Cookbook in 1904. National Brownie Day is December 8th.

S’mores – This popular camping food item featuring graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate first appears in a Girl Scout cookbook written by Loretta Scott Crew in the early 1920’s. It would appear as Graham Cracker Sandwich for the title. A second cookbook, in 1927, would call the item Some More, later shortened to S’mores. National S’more Day is August 10th.

Ranch Dressing – Ranch Dressing was invented on a dude ranch in Santa Barbara, California, in 1954. Steve Henson, a plumber, had worked as a contractor in the Alaskan Bush for 3 years. Along with wife Gayle, they experimented on their ranch, Hidden Valley Ranch, and would create the popular dressing. Their production company is now centered in Nevada, still with the name Hidden Valley.

Philly Cheesesteak – In the 1930’s, Phil Pat & Harry Oliveri is said to have been asked by a taxi driver to chop up some steak and put it on a bun. The two ran a hot dog stand in Philadelphia. The item became a town favorite and Pat’s King of Steaks was born. Provolone cheese was added in the 1940’s along with onions. Manager Joe Lorenza is credited with this. Geno’s Steaks opened on the opposite street corner in 1966 and now a battle exists on who makes the best Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. Both places are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. National Philly Cheesesteak Day is March 24th.

Tater Tots – In 1953, F. Nephi Grigg and Golden Grigg, founders of Ore Ida in Oregon wondered what to do with the left-over slices of potatoes from their processing plant. After some experimentation, Tater Tots were born and began appearing on grocery shelves in 1956. National Tate Tot Day is February 2nd.

Eggs Benedict – Two restaurants claim the creation of this dish. Chef Charles Ranhofer, from the Waldorf Hotel, is said to have been asked by Lemuel Benedict for something to cure his hangover. Ranhofer made a variation of a pub dish he had heard of and took poached eggs on toast with bacon covered in Hollandaise sauce. He later put this in his cookbook as Eggs a la Benedict. Another story says Delmonico’s in Lower Manhattan, in 1860, made a dish for Mrs. LeGrand Benedict when she wanted something different for breakfast. The chef used muffins and ham, also with Hollandaise sauce. In 1896, Fannie Merritt Farmer published a cookbook with an Eggs Benedict recipe calling for English muffins with ham, covered in Hollandaise sauce. National Eggs Benedict Day is April 16.

Next up we will look at some desserts as well as some condiments and discover how they ended up as popular foods on menus and in restaurants around the world.


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  • Published: 3 years ago on March 25, 2021
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  • Last Modified: March 25, 2021 @ 11:55 pm
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