Breads and Summer Drinks–Where’s the Connection?

This week, we’re featuring another item with some summer treats…and some raised breads? While this may seem an unlikely combination at first, these two categories do have something in common: yeast. Or, the particular case of this corporate pamphlet, Fleishmann’s Yeast…

This pamphlet dates to about 1915, but by then, the Fleishmann Company was well established. Founded in 1868, it remained its own company until a 1929 merger with Standard Brands. After 1981 Standard Brands merged with Nabisco Brands, Inc. The Fleishmann Yeast brand has since been sold two more times, but it has stood the test of time at a 145 years and counting!

While the majority of the publication focuses on the variety of breads and breakfast goods to be may with yeast, the subtitle “Also directions for making Refreshing Summer Drinks” is a bit eye-catching. If you don’t spend a lot of time pondering early 20th century summer beverages, the connection may not be immediately clear. But yeast possesses the ability to make drinks effervesce. So, while a good bread is something of great value, it’s these last three page that interest us today…after all, summer is here!

One of the great joys of the History of Food and Drink Collection is the ability to look back and see what people ate or drank, how they entertained, how they manage the home, or how they prepared food at any given time. These recipes are a perfect example. Root beer, by 1915, was common enough that you could buy an extract, rather than prepare it from scratch. The “Lemon Pop” recipe, with its crushed ginger root, suggests more of a cross between modern ginger ale  and lemonade, than a strictly lemon drink. Whether it’s more economical to produce at home (as the pamphlet suggests), Dandelion wine, effervescing or not, is more likely to be made locally or at home these days than in an commercial setting. And as for “Kumyss,” that’s definitely not something you would expect to see in stores.

This pamphlet was produced in updated editions over the course of the 1910s. Special Collections at Virginia Tech includes editions from 1910, 1912, 1915, 1916. Holdings at other libraries suggest there were at least three more editions with this title, published in 1914, 1917, and 1920. If you’re curious, come on by and take a look. Our Culinary Pamphlet Collection also includes more Fleishmann-related ephemera from 1939, 1941, and the late 1960s!

Keep on enjoying that summer, whether it features root beer, dandelion wine, and, for the adventurous, maybe even some kumyss…

The First American Cocktail Manual

Cocktails are not strictly American. A look at nearly any cocktail book suggests drinks that originate in any number of places. The idea of the cocktail itself evolved from previous generations of drinks celebrated and consumed around the world. (The long history of cocktails an amazing, wandering, wonderful, convoluted journey that we aren’t going to cover in one blog post, but if you’re interested, stay tuned.) However, Americans have played no small role in the development, sharing, and continued enjoyment of the cocktail.

Earlier this year, Special Collections was very pleased to acquired a first edition, third printing of the first American cocktail manual, published in 1862: How to mix drinks, or, The bon-vivant’s companion : containing clear and reliable directions for mixing all the beverages used in the United States, together with the most popular British, French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish recipes, embracing punches, juleps, cobblers, etc., etc., etc., in endless variety / by Jerry Thomas ; to which is appended A manual for the manufacture of cordials, liquors, fancy syrups, &c., &c. ..Illustrated with descriptive engravings, the whole containing over 600 valuable recipes. by Christian Schultz.(Technically, this book is a two-for–it contains Jerry Thomas’ book, usually known by it’s short title, How to Mix Drinks, or, The Bon-Vivant’s Companion, as well as the added manual on distilling and manufacturing cocktail ingredients, by Christian Schultz. And it’s a great two-for, at that. The two books make for a natural fit.)

Jerry Thomas was a man with a fascinating life story, one that could easily take over this blog post. Luckily, you can read about it elsewhere, if you go looking–this post is about his book! Schultz, on the other hand, seems a bit of a mystery. However, this seems fitting, when you consider the history of the American cocktail. Some drinks and ingredients have obvious origins, some have variations of wild stories with many people laying claim, and still others are shrouded in mystery. (Good luck discovering the exact herbs that go into some of those amazing, European made cordials!)

The history and evolution of Thomas’ original bartenders manual is no secret, though. Thomas himself produced at least one expanded version before his death in 1885. After that, his recipes (original and unoriginal) were reproduced faithfully and less-than faithfully in many ways. We’ve seen his influence on the blog before, when we talked about The Savoy Cocktail Book. And Special Collections also includes a 1934 edition of The Bon Vivant’s Companion; or, How to Mix Drinks, by Professor Jerry Thomas. Edited, with an introduction by Herbert Asbury, first published in 1928. Several recent publications, too, are bring Thomas back into the spotlight. Even after 151 years, the first American manual for bartenders is influencing cocktail fans everywhere.

Reproducing Thomas’ drink at home can be a bit of a challenge for the modern cocktail enthusiast (dangers of the Blue Blazer aside–please DO NOT try that one at home), but it isn’t impossible. Homemade bitters and syrups are seeing a revival at home and in cocktail bars. The ideas of a “gill” or a “wine-glass” do have modern equivalents. So if you’re feeling brave, whip up some raspberry syrup. Even if you decide you don’t like the cocktail you tried, it might just do wonders for some ice cream…

A Treatise of All Sorts of Foods: Or, The 1745 Book with the 93-Word Title

Back in the early days of the blog, we profiled the oldest food-related publication in our collection, the short selection of a larger publication with the lengthy title, A pocket-companion, containing things necessary to be known by all that values their health and happiness : being a plain way of nature’s own prescribing, to cure most diseases in men, women and children, by kitchen-physick only. To which is added, an account how a man may live well and plentifully for two-pence a day / collected from The good housewife made a doctor, by Tho. Tryon  (1692). You can that view that post online here: “Advice from 1692.”

However, it seemed about time we go back and show off another early publication from the History of Food and Drink Collection. This week, we’re featuring a slightly more recent publication from 1745, with, if you can believe it, an even longer title: A treatise of all sorts of foods, both animal and vegetable: also of drinkables: giving an account how to chuse the best sort of all kinds; of the good and bad effects they produce; the principles they abound with; the time, age, and constitution they are adapted to. Wherin their nature and use is explain’d according to the sentiments of the most eminent physicians and naturalists, ancient and modern. Written originally in French, by the learned M.L. Lemery. Tr. by D. Hay. To which is added, an introduction treating of foods in general. (When you look at the title page below, you may notice there is actually a great deal MORE that someone wisely thought to leave out, when cataloging the item.)

As much as we’d love to have you visit us, the good news is, if you want to read more from this treatise (and it’s well worth it!), you can see it online. A pdf is available through VTech Works, the library’s institutional repository (http://hdl.handle.net/10919/10325). If you’re not used to the style and font of mid-18th century publications, don’t worry. Like handwriting, it won’t take long for you to understand those long “f”s and strange, archaic terms.

And whether you’re wondering what people thought about gooseberries, “sea-dragons,” milk, wild boar, or brandy in the 1740s, this is a great place to start. The book’s descriptions about melancholy Humours may be out of date, but the desire to give good advice about food is timeless.

Bowlen und Getränke: Or, On Punches and Drinks (Cocktails!)

In early October, Special Collections acquired four particularly interesting additions to our History of the American Cocktail Collection–two Spanish and two German books relating to punch and cocktails. This week, the focus is on the latter, while I (archivist/blogger Kira) take a little time to brush up on my Spanish translation skills. The German I can manage with one hand wrapped around a glass…

The first of the two books is Das Kidronsquellchen und andere trinksame Ubungen from 1913. Part cocktail book and part book of poetry about punch and other drinks, this little volume falls into a comfortable space–we’d be hard pressed not to agree that alcohol and poetry have long intertwined history of inspiration and trouble-making. The second is Hegenbarth’s Bowlen, Punsch-, und Kaffee-Haus-Getränkebuch: eine Sammlung zeitgemässer Vorschriften zur Herstellung von kalten, warmen und sonstigen Mischgetränken: Mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der in- und ausländischen Kaffeehaus-Getränke der “american drinks”, sowie Äpfel und sonstiger Frucht Bowlen und Punsche  [that's something to the effect of "Hegenbarth's Punch and Coffee-house Drink Book: a collection of contemporary recipes for making cold, warm, and other mixed drinks: with particular attention to native and foreign coffee-house drinks, as well as apple and other fruit punches" in English] from 1903.

A few notes on punches, cocktails, and our new German publications:

1. There are entire books written on the history of punch, cocktails, specific cocktails and ingredients, etc. (I should know, as I have an ever-expanding personal collection at home.) While the evolution of the cocktail could be debated for hours, it does have at least part of its origins in the history of punch. So, the fact that German books about alcoholic drinks start with punch, a drink that would have be known and consumed in Germany, isn’t surprising.

2. The Germans are so cool when it comes to punches, they have two words for it: Punsch (hot punch) and Bowle (cold punch).

3. Hegenbarth’s book (an in particular, its publication date) shows us that, while the major evolution of the cocktail started American during the early 19th century, word and recipes spread to Europe well before 1900. In addition to hot and cold punches and wine drinks, it has sections on American-born cocktails and cobblers, iced mixed drinks, and a few French drinks thrown into the mix.

4. Meyer’s “Feuerzangenbowle a la Alfred Richard Meyer” poem above refers to a type of red wine punch popularized in Germany. It’s made by soaking or pouring rum on loaf sugar held over the punch by “feuerzange” (fire tongs), setting the sugar on fire, and letting it melt into the punch bowl. (Feuerzangenbowle have made their way into German film, song, and print!)

The whole point, of course, it that the cocktail isn’t a purely American concept, nor is punch a purely British one. Like food recipes and food cultures, cocktails and mixed drinks evolved over continents and oceans and continue to do so. They inspire us to write and sing…perhaps dabble in a bit of mixology ourselves.

Stay tuned for a look at our new Spanish acquisitions…but until then, ponder the joy of Bowle and Punsche. Prost!

Manuscript Cookbook, Just Where Are You From?

It’s been a while since we’ve highlighted a manuscript cookbook, so this week, it’s time for a brand new acquisition…

Sometimes, when it comes to manuscripts, the origins of an item remain a mystery. There is a name on the inside cover in this case, but a little research with the local resources on hand still left us unable to connect that name to a place.  While your usual archivist/blogger Kira is all for a good Scooby-Doo mystery, being an archivist often means knowing where to draw the line when it comes to research. There are plenty more collections waiting to be processed. And not knowing who created and/or compiled something doesn’t mean it doesn’t have research value.

This new addition our collection includes a diverse range of recipes, from cordials and syrups to cakes and baked goods to oysters. And, as if my usual interest in various preserved things isn’t bad enough, this week, I’m bringing you pickled cucumbers, oysters, and plums (at least they aren’t in gelatin…). The point to all this pickling repetition, though, is to show the common practices. Regardless of where this cookbook was compiled, it has recipes and ideas in common with manuscript receipt books we do know about.

Like many 19th and early 20th century handwritten receipt books, it does not have a neat order. (We did, for the record, just acquire a recipe book that does have an index!). Recipes for tallow candles are mixed in with apple pudding and cough syrup; a fruit syrup is next to “egg pone;” and the newspapers clippings are a blend of recipes, household hints, and remedies. Several pages have pasted in recipes on other paper, too. Very likely, it was a case of fitting the next recipe into the next available space…though there is a tendency among cookbook compilers to paste newspaper clippings in the back  pages.

Answers to questions about the cookbook’s organization are as much a mystery as its kitchen of origin, but this item does tell us that these recipes were significant to someone. This manuscript contributes to the larger discussion of late 19th and early 20th century food  preparation and preservation, the culture of recipe sharing (all those newspaper clippings came from someone else’s kitchen), and the overall picture of food history we are striving to create here at Special Collections. A little aire of uncertainty just makes it a little more exciting to research and ponder.

Plus, it has a recipe for blackberry syrup made with spices and brandy that I’d be willing to try, whether it was an effective cholera treatment or not…

Mixing Drinks, 1906-style

Just this past winter, Special Collections acquired a signed copy of Louis’ Mixed Drinks, With Hints for the Care & Serving of Wines. Published in 1906, Muckensturm’s guide includes descriptions and characteristics of wine, along with notes on the quality of vintages from 1880 up through 1905. A majority of the book, however, is dedicated to mixed drinks. It includes recipes for fizzes, cups, punches, cocktails, flips, sours, cordials, and bottling pre-made mixes at home.

Although the cocktail was by no means a new invention in 1906–in fact, it had been defined in print in the U.S. a century prior–cocktails and mixed drinks were most definitely on the rise in the early 20th century. Prohibition wasn’t all that far off, and the future limitations would have interesting effects on production and consumption of alcohol (more on that in some future posts). Following the repeal in 1933, interest in cocktails spiked for a couple of decades before going into decline (more on that, too).

Many of the basic drinks in Muckenstrum’s book are the origins and/or influences of the modern cocktail revival hitting the bars today. Certain items are still classics–a good martini, sour, or collins, for example (even the Orange Blossom is coming back into fashion!). Other choices are a little more obscure. Ask your average bartender for a twelve color Pousse-Cafe,  a Barnyard Cocktail, or a Marliave’s Cocktail and you’re more likely to get strange looks than a drink.  Of course, the Pousse-Cafe will look impressive with its multicolored layers, but a drink with that combination of flavors (orange, cherry, mint, cassis, fennel, and other herbs) probably won’t taste that good when it mixes anyway. (On a side note,  if you do find a place where they know how to make any of those, you’ve found someplace special.) Of course, part of the reason to preserve this material is so that someone can make a Barnyard if they want one (which isn’t really a cocktail at all, with its raw eggs, vinegar, and Worcestershire and no alcohol!). Or, if you’re in the mood for Ivy-League school themed cocktails, the book has both the Yale and the Crimson cocktails.  Sadly, no Hokies cocktail, but we can work on that!

Cocktails represent another unique part of culinary and social history, and that history is resurfacing for a whole new generation of enthusiasts. So, stop by, learn how to make a Pine Tree Cocktail, and tip your glass to Mr. Muckensturm and a long line of cocktail book authors and bartenders who helped make it all happen. Cheers!

1731 Book for Receipts (Or, You Want to Pickle WHAT?)

Acquired in 2005, the 1731 “Book for Receipts” includes handwritten recipes by at least two different people. In addition to extensive directions on pickling everything from walnuts to melons to pidgeons, there is also a large collection of baked goods, wines, and even a variation of cheesecake! Like many collections of the time, there are home remedies, too!

By the way, this is also the manuscript that inspired our “Snail Water” post several weeks back.

A finding aid (or collection guide) for this manuscript collection is available online. The entire book was digitized in 2005 for preservation purposes. A pdf version can be viewed, saved, and/or printed here.

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