Swapping (on) a Trade Card

This week’s feature is a quirky item. It’s not exactly culinary history related, but it’s not exactly NOT culinary history related, either. In other words, it’s tangential, but fun to talk about. It’s a trade card from a tobacco company (we’ve talked about one we have for a patent medicine before). We were interested in acquiring it for a number of connections: Virginia history, Civil War history, and advertising/culinary history.

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The front depicts a Union and a Confederate soldier trading items, probably while on picket duty. While the card was primarily designed to promote Myer Bro’s and Co. tobacco, we culinary fans have a reason to take a closer look: the “caption” on the back.

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It wasn’t uncommon for Union and Confederate soldiers to talk and trade across lines while on guard. We have several Civil War-era letters and diaries where soldiers mention sharing news, newspapers, and even food. Of course, they could end up in hot water if caught, but the fact that it happened regardless speaks volumes about the war.

Coffee is one of those ingredients that soldiers talked and wrote about a great deal. They had it (or didn’t, but wanted it), they made it (but with the most questionable of ingredients), or they were creating substitutes for it. At times, Union blockades kept coffee out of Confederate hands (which puts the caption of our trade card in an interesting context). You can find references in plenty of the letters and diaries among our Civil War materials without having to look too far. If soldiers were lucky, they might even have sugar to go with your coffee (or whatever passed for it).

In an 1861 letter to his wife, John Newton Carnahan laments, “we have had sum hard times to put on half rations of Bred no salt for ower Beef no sugar for ower Coffee and musty meal.”  An entry in Merritt Hager Smith’s 1863 diary states, “Got up about daylight. same break–fast as have [?] eat every morning for the last ten days Hard Bread + Coffee and fried Pork.” Throughout the war, even on limited rations or repetitive menus, coffee was still at the core of the soldier’s diet. Well, at least so long as one was free…In early 1864, after months in Confederate prisons and finally being paroled, William Tippett writes to his wife, “as soon as we got on our boat supper was ready, coffee meat and good wheat bread Oh but wasnt it good – we had seen wheat bread since November and no meat since Crismas – and no coffee since we were taken prisoners.”

We have plenty of resources relating to the Civil War and to the History of Food & Drink, as our readers well know. What might surprise you is the overlap. If you’re interested in how these two topics connect, you might think about paying us a visit. If nothing else, you’ll get to look at some amazing and unique items!

The Garland Cook Book (Ovens, not Decorations, of course!)

Waaaaaaay back in 2011, when “What’s Cookin’ @Special Collections?!” was born, I talked about how our collection included materials relating to food technology. More specifically, we have historical books, publications, and ephemera which depict changes in food technology over time. This week, I tracked down a cookbook on our shelves that comes from a corporation. Rather than pushing a food product, like some other titles I’ve blogged about before, this one is pushing what we might call a food technology product: oven heat control.

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The Garland Oven Cook Book isn’t quite what I expected. I imagined this was a company that made ovens. I was sort of correct. In fact, it’s a cookbook designed around/for a specific oven part: heat control. The full title is actually The Garland Cook Book: Containing Tested Recipes for Cooking by Controlled Heat and Instructions for Operating the Garland Oven Heat Control. In other words, it’s a cookbook designed for process, based on a product. The introduction has a lot to say on this:

The subject of cooking by controlled heat is one that is engaging the attention of the best cooks and domestic science experts everywhere, and the verdict is unanimous that it not only makes much lighter the task of preparing the daily meals, but gives even the experienced cook a certainty of good results for cooking any particular dish desired…

The control automatically holds the flame of the oven steady at this desired temperature. It is not necessary to watch it, or even think about it, for the control keeps the heat constant and steady, without your having to touch the gas cock, or even go near the oven until the time is up to take the food from the oven.

I don’t know much about The Garland Cook Book. In fact, the only copy that shows up cataloged for public or academic libraries in WorldCat is ours, so it seems to be pretty scarce. There’s no clear date, but the cookbook was probably created by the Detroit-Michigan Stove Company, which produced Garland stoves. Lucky for us, the Detroit Historical Society knows more than I do, and there’s a short article on the Garland stove online. The stove dates back to the 1860s and the company to 1872. This item doesn’t have date, but is possibly from the very late 19th century, but more likely the early part of the 20th century.

However, probably the most important thing about this cookbook is the mechanism behind it. In terms of gas stoves, even temperature control was a huge leap forward in technology, kitchen efficiency, and home cooking. It meant less time being tied to the kitchen, less guesswork, and less need to keep a constant eye on the food.  I know we have some more publications in the collection (and some ephemera, too) dealing with stoves, ovens, and their changes over time. So, if you’re interested, you should pay us a visit and we’ll do some digging. You never know what we might uncover!

Corn: The War Edition

I realized that while I’ve written a bit about World War II and food/food substitutions for victory, I haven’t really shared as much about World War I and food. I did post about bread and World War I earlier this year, but this unobtrusive little volume struck me this morning (not literally, of course, though falling books can sometimes be a danger in this job). It’s The Corn Cook Book [War Edition] written by Elizabeth O. Hiller and published in 1918.

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I image you can guess what kinds of recipes this book has. (If you said anything but “corn,” I’d be shocked.) It’s primarily corn meal, but there are a few items that use actual corn kernels, too. I’ve included the preface, along with some sample pages, since it gives a nice introduction to this particular edition and to the cause it supports.

One of the things I like about this item is the advice at the bottom of each page. It starts at the bottom of the introduction, which features specific directions on how to do things like mix, stir, beat, cut and fold, as well as notes on how to measure. This note reads: “IMPORTANT–The foregoing instructions must be carefully followed; the ingredients called for in the recipes must be used, to insure success in the finished product. Each recipe in this Corn Cook Book has been carefully tested by an expect–a graduated teacher in household economics.” The rest of the book contains the same advice about skim milk and butter substitute. I wish there was a little bit of something else, but we can’t say Hiller wasn’t consistent.

I’ve done a little research and it actually appears this might have been the only edition of The Corn Cook Book–in other words, there doesn’t seem to have been a non-war edition. Hiller wrote a number of books in the first 20 years of the 20th century, primarily calendar or 365-day type meal planning cookbooks.

If you’d like to see the full version our feature text this week, you can check it out on the Internet Archive. Today is graduation, so our summer is about to kick off. Special Collections may not have as many students in the reading room, but we’ll be here and we’ll have plenty of visitors. We encourage you to be one of them!

The Incredible Shrinking (and Growing) Girl

My French is pretty much non-existent, so apologies in advance for my inevitable translation and synopsis errors in the post that follows. Several years of Latin means I can read words and sometimes correctly interpret sentences, but we’re winging it a bit this week. On the other hand, Les Gourmandises de Charlotte, a children’s story that borders on a fairy-tale, literally stuffed with food (pun-intended), has to be shared!

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First published in the late 19th century, Les Gourmandises de Charlotte went through several editions between 1891 and 1915. We are lucky enough to have an early edition from 1891 (with a slightly fragile binding). This is the story of Charlotte, a little girl who gets a giant cherry-flavored candy egg for Easter, and all the trouble it causes. She develops a taste for sugar and sweets, first losing weight and eventually, in fairy-tale style, actually shrinking in size, as she refuses to eat anything else. She has a series of adventures while tiny (which are really meant as lessons to show Charlotte–and other children/readers–the importance of good eating). She regains her normal size, only to balloon up, facing mockery from other children. In the end, though, she sees the error of her ways and agrees to eating a more balanced diet.

Primarily, materials in the History of Food & Drink Collection, including many books in the Ann Hertzler Children’s Cookbook and Nutrition Collection are cataloged with cookbooks, medicine, nutrition, and other related call numbers. Les Gourmandises de Charlotte is one of the outliers. While there is a clear message about food and nutrition, this is first and foremost a children’s story. As a result, it’s actually cataloged with juvenile literature. It could an easy reader for native French speakers of a young age, and non-native speakers learning French, too. The illustrations help tell the story for even the youngest readers and read-ees.

Of course, it may also give you a craving for a super-sized cherry-flavored candy egg, despite all Charlotte’s troubles. While we can’t help you there, we CAN help you to another serving of culinary book history next week…

Upcoming Event

The Peacock-Harper Culinary Friends, in conjunction with the Virginia Tech Alumni Association and the Old Guard Reunion are hosting an event on May 21st at the Inn at Virginia Tech. This luncheon will feature two guest speakers and a menu with recipes from a book we’ve talked about before! If you live in the Blacksburg area and would like to attend, you can the view and print the registration form: PHCHFG May 21, 2015. Please note: Registration is due by May 15, 2015. 

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Salads: “A Necessary Luxury?”

As is often the case when things are busy (like at the end of the semester), and your loyal archivist/blogger Kira is, well, less likely to plan her blog posts in advance, the best option is wandering the shelves. With more than 4,400 books and nearly 100 manuscript collections, there’s a lot I don’t know about and always something new to discover. I’m getting into the habit of training myself not to look only at eye level, which led me to today’s feature item: How to Make Salads from 1894.

I was intrigued by the title on the small envelope that houses this 121-year-old publication. I mean, in general, how difficult can be it? Put ingredients in bowl. Mix. Serve. Then again, I have gotten used to finding directions for the seemingly obvious (Lettuce sandwiches or hot cocoa, for example). Then, I took it out of the envelope and saw this:

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“A Necessary Luxury” Salads? “By all means, let’s see where this goes,” said the little voice in my head. It went here:

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Quotes by Sidney Smith and Shakespeare, a collection of elves, and what can only be described as a chicken, a lobster, and a bottle of salad dressing dancing in a circle? How…interesting.

All kidding aside, this is a rather neat little pamphlet. It’s easy to joke, but these 16 pages are full of practical recipes. There isn’t much variation of the secondary ingredients (celery, salt, pepper, vinegar, and the occasional other vegetable or garnish) and of course all the recipes include Royal Salad Dressing (the booklet’s sponsor). And there is a surprising range of primary ingredients from classics like chicken, lobster, cabbage, egg, or potato to the more exotic/unexpected ones like oyster, frog legs, sweet potato, or cauliflower. So, no matter what your salad needs, there’s something here for you.

According to WorldCat, Virginia Tech is one of only four academic or public libraries with copies of this, and it doesn’t appear to be digitized, which suggests it is relatively rare. I’m hoping to get the entire item scanned and online in the not-too-distant future.

A Server on Service

This week, we’re featuring Waiting at Table by “a Prosperous Head Waiter,” published in 1936. It’s a text-heavy, slightly-illustrated manual for waiters, impressing upon its readers a need for precision, cleanliness, and efficiency.

I’ll be honest: Up against a detailed manual like that of John B. Goins–The American Waiter, (which I’ve written about before) is probably my favorite guide for the servers–Waiting at Table feels a little generic. (Also, who HAS a favorite guide for servers? I may be spending TOO much time with this collection!) However, I think we could argue that is its intention. Our “prosperous head waiter”/author does know his stuff and if you’re going to focus on certain topics, I would agree that neatness, carving, decoration, napkins, glasses, etc., are the correct things on which to pay attention. I love Goins’ attention to detail, but in truth, we don’t NEED to read his views on tipping, or why waiters should know the recipe for possum served on a plank. The introduction to Waiting at Table reads that the book is:

a guide for all who have to serve at meal, whether in hotels, restaurants, private houses or other establishments.

The subject of waiting is dealt with in all its aspects and there are few engaged in this profession who would not derive some benefit by studying the fourteen chapters.

In other words, whether you’re new to the business or long-established, there’s something here for you.

I’m all for letting the text speak for itself this week, but I can’t post this without another comment or two. First, there’s the cover. If you didn’t notice it, I’ll draw your attention to it now: “Think–for the price of a packet of cigarettes you have a complete Guide to your future success.” What a tagline! Makes it sound almost as if they are trying to sell you something…Second, on the spine of the book, there’s a “No.32.” at the top, which made me curious as to what the rest of the series looks like. On the back, there’s a complete list, including books like Wedding EtiquetteFuneral Formalities and Obligations, Card TricksThe Various Dart Games, and 502 Practical Household HintsWaiting at Table comes from an eclectic series of titles…Practical in their own ways (even Tea-Cup Fortune Telling, I suppose)…Right?

Until next week, here’s hoping all your napkins are lily-folded and and your glassware is correct.

Food AND Fun? In One Book? :)

Food & Fun for Daughter and Son was published in 1946. We acquired a copy last year, but it slipped off my radar until recently. I must not have had the time to take a good look, or I undoubtedly would have shared it sooner!

As you can see, this book is a blend of “how-to/advice for parents,” meal planning guide, nutrition manual, and cookbook. Typically, we have a wide range of recipes and menus, some more intriguing that others. (I’m curious about a lunch of beef broth, potato salad, and cake…but also not saying I’d turn it down.) What I found more interesting, though, was everything else. The intended audience is adults, but it sometimes results in seeming non-sequiturs like:

“To limited degree and in a kind, friendly way, table manners should be taught at an early age to avoid embarrassment when he comes in contact with older, well-behaved children.

Your immaculate, regular care of the refrigerator will prolong its efficiency and life.”

There are a few more pieces of advice about the kitchen, then it jumps to advice for caring for a child with a cold. I see the general connection, but the first couple chapters are a conglomerate of advice on a range of subjects that contribute to raising healthy children.

We’ve definitely looked at books for/about children that featured party themes and planning, but I think this is the first time we’ve come across a book with section devoted to “Diversions for an Only or Lonely Child.” The suggestions themselves may seem outdated or silly, but it was neat to see the topic addressed in conjunction with entertaining kids who are sick or stuck in bed.

So, until next week, if you’re missing us, don’t worry! There’s an imaginary pony of your own that needs training!

Beer: Before and After (Prohibition, that is)

Tuesday (April 7) was National Beer Day–and not just for any old reason, I assure you. April 7, 1933, was the day the Cullen-Harrison Act went into effect. “What’s the Cullen-Harrison Act?” you might (rightly) ask. Enacted on March 21 and signed by FDR on March 22, this 1933 piece of Congressional legislation provided for the sale of beer (or wine!) with an alcohol content of 3.2%. Although it was no guarantee that beer or wine would suddenly be available on April 7 (individual states had to pass further laws granting the sale), it did signal the beginning of the end of Prohibition in the America (the 21st Amendment would be passed in December 1933).

Back in 2011, while going through some unprocessed materials, I found a single letter. At the time, it seemed mildly interesting, but other projects had priority. Before long, though, we were acquiring materials on the history of the cocktail and Prohibition, and the letter eventually popped back in my head. Written in 1909 by the president and secretary/treasurer of the Virginia Brewing Company, it was a plea not to pass legislation that would ban the manufacture of beer in Roanoke.

Virginia Brewing Company Letter, 1909

Although Virginia did pass Prohibition legislation a full three years before the Volstead Act and the 18th Amendment, banning sale and transport of alcohol in 1920, in 1909, the Scholz business, it seems, remained safe. The Virginia Prohibition Commission was formed in 1916 to enforce the Virginia Prohibition Act, giving the Virginia Brewing Company a 5-year reprieve. (Side note: The Library of Virginia has a great page with information about the Virginia Prohibition Commission and the records the library houses.)

The Virginia Brewing Company (for which there is a GREAT short history online that helped me out!), as the letter suggests, was well established in the Roanoke area. It began in 1889, started up by none other than the Louis A. Scholz on the letterhead. Louis (1863-1934) immigrated to the United States in 1882 from Germany. After starting out in Baltimore, he eventually settled in the Roanoke area and raised at least three children with his wife, Henrietta. In 1916, the brewery closed. Louis found work (the 1920 census lists him as the manager of a bottleworks) elsewhere, until Prohibition blew over. He planned to re-open the Virginia Brewing Company, but died before the new plant was complete. A new owner opened it in 1936, however, and it stayed open until 1958 under the original name, and as the Mountain Brewing Company from 1958-1959.

Louis’s brother Henry (abt. 1866-1924) came to the United States in 1890, specifically to help his brother start the business. He and his wife, Louisa, had at least two children. In 1920, according the census, Henry appears to have been owner of “moving picture co” in Roanoke. (He had actually co-owned the theater since 1913).  A little further digging revealed this to be the first American Theatre, located, at the time, on S. Jefferson Street. However, Henry had his hand in MANY businesses in the Roanoke area during his life there, including the raising of Roanoke baseball team to join the Virginia League, the movie theater, and one of the first newsstands in the city.

What was supposed to be a short paragraph on the two brothers and their brewery has taken me down a rabbit-hole of discovery. Between census records and Roanoke City history, I’ve found far more than I expected about this fascinating family, invested more time than planned (which is always the way), and I still held back some information!) While it may not be relevant to this particular letter and its request for support, it DOES remind me of the fun of my job (there’s still more to be found) and it reminds all of us that culinary, cocktail, and food history don’t exist in a vacuum. The Scholz brothers were more than just brewers in the picture of early 20th century Roanoke history, and our one short letter shouldn’t fool you. Prost! (That’s German for “Cheers!”)

New Pamphlet Round-Up 2!

The week has gotten away from me and the last month’s posts were a bit on the long side, so I’m going with a round-up this week. I haven’t done one since last summer and I have two boxes of pamphlets in my office waiting to be added to the Culinary Pamphlet Collection, the Cocktail Ephemera Collection, and the Culinary Ephemera Collection. The finding aids don’t include these new materials yet (it’s on my to-do list!), but I thought I’d share a preview! You can click on the thumbnails for a larger image and to read the full caption.

This is just a fraction of some of our new pamphlets. If you’re curious to see more, pay us a visit or let us know in the comments section below!

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