Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Andersonville Beans

Union Ex-Prisoners of War
Lackawanna County, 1886-1890

It was startling to find “Andersonville Beans” on the menu for a Union Ex-Prisoners of War Association banquet in 1889. Andersonville, the largest Confederate prison during the Civil War, was a nightmarish site in Georgia, where nearly a third of the prisoners died of starvation or disease. A quarter of a century later, this local veteran’s group in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania had the curious idea of naming a bean dish after the infamous place.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Taft is Notified; Cincinnati Joyful

Cincinnati, 1908

On July 28, 1908, when William Howard Taft accepted the Republican nomination for president from the portico of his Federalist mansion in Cincinnati, he launched into a one hour and eleven minute speech outlining his principles. Feeling the intense heat that hot summer day, the 300-pound Taft passed over large sections of his manuscript, explaining to the crowd that they could read his entire oration in the newspapers.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Oriental Hospitalities

San Simeon, 

Newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst sent to San Francisco for the good linens and china, preparing his enormous estate called “La Cuesta Encantada” (The Enchanted Hill) for an upcoming visit of British politician Winston Churchill in 1929.  Although Churchill appreciated the gracious hospitality, he also understood the temperament of his host, writing to his wife Clementine: “Hearst was most interesting to meet, & I got (sic) like him - a grave simple child - with no doubt a nasty temper - playing with the most costly toys. A vast income always overspent: Ceaseless building & collecting not very discriminatingly works of art: two magnificent establishments, two charming wives; complete indifference to public opinion, a strong liberal & democratic outlook, a 15 million daily circulation, oriental hospitalities, extreme personal courtesy (to us at any rate)...”1

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Battle Creek Idea

The Sanitarium
Battle Creek, 1895-1903

Eating out is usually more about pleasure and diversion than subsistence. However, for those who checked into the Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan to restore their health, it was more about diversion and subsistence, for they would take little pleasure in the meals that they would be served there. Four menus dating from 1895 to 1903 show what  foods then constituted a nutritious diet, including the addition of a new food group to the menu around the turn of the last century.