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…


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