What’s for Breakfast? Discover the History of Cereal

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

History of Cereal

If you were born in America, chances are you grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons and eating breakfast cereal. I remember sitting in my PJ’s in front of the “boob tube,” digging into a bowl of crunchy goodness drenched in cold milk. I would stare sleepily at the word games and mazes on the back of the box, then dig for that cheap plastic prize inside. On television, cartoon spokespeople tempted me with their colorful, sugar-laden cereal treats. I begged my mom to buy them for me. She refused, pointing me toward the healthier varieties. I grew up eating Cheerios, Grape Nuts, and Rice Krispies while many of my peers enjoyed Cocoa Pebbles, Lucky Charms and Fruit Loops. Looking back, I am nothing but grateful for Mom’s diligence. That said, the targeted marketing of cereal companies was forever seared into my youthful mind. Cereal seems synonymous with being a kid, more like a sweet treat than a breakfast staple. Was it always this way? History tells us no. In fact, cereal started out very different than the colorful kid-friendly boxes we buy today.

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Thanksgiving, Lincoln and Pumpkin Pudding

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

Pumpkin Pudding

 

Give thanks, all ye people, give thanks to the Lord,
Alleluias of freedom with joyful accord:
Let the East and the West, North and South roll along,
Sea, mountain and prairie, one thanksgiving song.

- from “The President’s Hymn” written by William Augustus Muhlenburg for President Abraham Lincoln, 1863

 

Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president, is celebrated for a great many achievements. The savior of our union, Lincoln guided our nation through the resolution of the Civil War. His leadership helped bring an end to slavery and peace to our war-torn nation. In addition to these historical achievements, few know that Lincoln also helped turn Thanksgiving into a nationally observed holiday.

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Cary Grant’s Oven-Barbecued Chicken

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

Cary Grant Oven-Barbecued Chicken

Those of you who follow The History Kitchen regularly know I’m a “nerd” when it comes to food history. I’m also a big fan of the Silver Screen; I’m particularly fond of early Hollywood, silent pictures and cinematic classics. That’s why I was thrilled to stumble upon a rare vintage cookbook called What Actors Eat When They Eat! (Lymanhouse, 1939) This quirky book is a compilation of recipes and “favorite dishes” from some of the greatest stars of old Hollywood. The recipes were compiled and edited by Rex Lease and Kenneth Harlan, two actors who achieved most of their success in silent films. The forward is written by screenwriter Anita Loos, author of the famed comedic novel Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, on which the Marilyn Monroe film is based. Fittingly, the first line of the forward reads:

Gentlemen prefer girls who know how to cook, whether they be blonde, brunette, or titian.

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Halloween: A Foodie History

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

Halloween - A Foodie History

Halloween is one of the only holidays where we don’t gather around the dinner table for a big family meal. That said, Halloween involves many food traditions, some with ancient roots. Pumpkins are carved, kids bob for apples, and candy is consumed in massive quantities… lots and lots of candy. In fact, the amount of candy eaten on Halloween has long outnumbered the amount eaten at Christmas and Valentine’s Day. In 2011, $2.3 billion was spent on Halloween candy. That’s a lot of sugar!

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Emily Dickinson: A Poet in the Kitchen

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all…

- Emily Dickinson, 1861

Emily Dickinson (December 10, 1830-May 15, 1886) is best known as one of the greatest poets in American history. But did you know that she was also an accomplished cook? Emily seems to have been most at home in the kitchen, as evidenced by letters and documents from her family estate. She took great pride in making delicate cakes, cookies, and candies, both for her family and as gifts for friends.

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Civil War Cooking: What the Union Soldiers Ate

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

Caption: Army of the Potomac – Union soldiers cooking dinner in camp (Library of Congress)

We grab our plates and cups, and wait for no second invitation. We each get a piece of meat and a potato, a chunk of bread and a cup of coffee with a spoonful of brown sugar in it. Milk and butter we buy, or go without. We settle down, generally in groups, and the meal is soon over… We save a piece of bread for the last, with which we wipe up everything, and then eat the dish rag. Dinner and breakfast are alike, only sometimes the meat and potatoes are cut up and cooked together, which makes a really delicious stew. Supper is the same, minus the meat and potatoes.

- Lawrence VanAlstyne, Union Soldier, 128th New York Volunteer Infantry

The biggest culinary problem during the Civil War, for both the North and the South, was inexperience. Men of this time were accustomed to the women of the house, or female slaves, preparing the food. For a male army soldier, cooking was a completely foreign concept. Thrust into the bleak reality of war, soldiers were forced to adjust to a new way of life—and eating—on the battlefield.

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Discover the History of Sushi

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

As with many ancient foods, the history of sushi is surrounded by legends and folklore. In an ancient Japanese wives’ tale, an elderly woman began hiding her pots of rice in osprey nests, fearing that thieves would steal them. Over time, she collected her pots and found the rice had begun to ferment. She also discovered that fish scraps from the osprey’s meal had mixed into the rice. Not only was the mixture tasty, the rice served as a way of preserving the fish, thus starting a new way of extending the shelf life of seafood.

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Opera, Escoffier, and Peaches: The Story Behind the Peach Melba

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

The Peach Melba

The Peach Melba

The Peach Melba is one of the most famous and beloved desserts in the world. This creamy and cool dish – a simple and classic preparation of vanilla ice cream, sugary peaches, and raspberry sauce – has graced restaurant menus for decades. While many people are familiar with this delectable dessert, few know the story behind the dish. It all starts with famed French chef Auguste Escoffier and his friendship with an Australian opera singer named Nellie Melba.

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