From the Crust to the Filling: More About Sandwiches

I don’t know why summer always has me thinking and blogging about sandwiches. Apparently, it’s also a time we acquire materials on sandwiches (we’ll have plenty more bread-and-filling-based publications to share down the road). Today, I found one from 1924, Mrs. Scott’s Sandwich Book: Selected Recipes for Pleasing Appetizing Meals and Light Summer Lunches. Fitting, right? This publication is actually a supplement to a newspaper, The North American.

The short introduction states the following:

They [sandwiches] are made of meat, cheese, eggs, vegetables, salads, fish, dried fruits, nuts, jellies, preserves–of practically everything. And there are hot sandwiches–How good they are!–as well as cold ones. Indeed, this might almost be called the age of sandwiches…Along with the change in the nature of the sandwich has come a decided change in its use. once it was though of merely as a dinner bucket or picnic attribute. Now sandwiches are served at every sort of meal, except formal dinners, and even in the most fashionable of hotels and restaurants they are constantly in demand.

Most pages of the fold-out are themed recipes around an ingredient or set of ingredients, many with small advertisements. Sections include: Assorted Sandwiches, Sandwiches Made of Olives, Cheese Sandwiches, Some Sweet Sandwiches, Dainty Salad Sandwiches, Pleasing Nut Sandwiches, Special Egg Sandwiches, Many Cheese Sandwiches, Selected Hot Sandwiches, Choice Meat Sandwiches, Canned Fish. You may be alternatively fascinated and slightly confused by some of the options, but there are quite a few tasty options, especially if you like cream cheese, olives, or pickles.

There is, of course, a recipe for our old favorite, the lettuce sandwich. And there’s a more fancy tomato and lettuce version or lettuce and cream cheese. If you’d like to pair your lettuce with something a little more unique, you could try peanut butter, dried sausage, or Spanish onion. If you’re a fan of condiments (sweet or savory), there are sandwiches that cater to you, too! Try a Tartar, Jelly, or Brown Sugar Sandwich.

The few remaining pages are full-page ads: one for Supplee Ice Cream and one for Mrs. Schorer’s  Pic-o-naise and Olive-niase. Yes, you read that right. The latter is pretty obvious, but I wasn’t able to find an ingredient list for the Pic-o-naise. If I had to guess, based on the picture, I’d go with mayo mixed with pimento and olive or pickle (definitely something green and minced). We have a pamphlets for Supplee milk  and Mrs. Schlorer’s products elsewhere among the culinary materials, too. Anyway, for a 16-page supplement, Mrs. Scott’s Sandwich Book has a lot to tell us about sandwiches of the time. And hopefully you’re feeling inspired for your next picnic!

Cooking with/in French and German

Back in 2012, I wrote a post about some German cocktail manuals. In 2014, I shared Die Österreichisches Hausfrau: Ein Handbuch für Frauen und Mädchen aller Stände; Praktische Anleitung fur Führung der Hauswirtschaft,  a German-language household guide. And in 2015, I covered Les Gourmandises de Charlotte, a French-language children’s book where food has some strange consequences for one little girl. Although the focus of our culinary materials is content in the English language, it isn’t exclusively what we do–clearly! There are more books on our shelves (and at least one manuscript cookbook) that challenge us to think (or at least READ) internationally. This week, we’re looking at three such books from pre-1900.

One of the items has already been digitized and is available on our website (http://digitalsc.lib.vt.edu/HFDBooks/TX707.M46_1786), so I won’t post too much of it here. (In fact, many, many copies of it have been digitized and are online.)

La cuisiniere bourgeoise, suivie de l’office : à l’usage de tous ceux qui se mêlent de dépenses de maisons (1786)

This is the oldest foreign language culinary history publication in the collection. La cuisiniere bourgeoise, suivie de l’office: à l’usage de tous ceux qui se mêlent de dépenses de maisons was published in 1786. It was actually first published in the 1740s and went through many editions. Like many cookbooks/culinary manuals of the time, it is text heavy and not very illustrated. In this particular case, it’s not illustrated at all. It includes paragraph-style recipes, as well as multi-course meal plans. As we might expect with American-published books, there isn’t a table of contents in this volume–at least not at the front. Instead, it’s at the back, in place of an index. I won’t embarrass myself by attempting to translate from French, but it is important to note this covers a lot of the core techniques and ingredients we associate with French cooking.

A little further on in French culinary history, we have Manuel complet d’économie domestique: contenant toutes les recettes les plus simples et les plus efficaces sur l’économie rurale et domestique, à l’usage de la ville et de la campagne, published in 1829 (we have a second edition). Written by Elisabeth Celnart, this is less a cookbook and more a home economics manual.

There are chapters on home and work and on diversions and entertainments (I like the section on training pigeons to sent messages, whereas the previous book had a lot of recipes on how to cook pigeons!). There are  also sections on food, cooking, and preservation, as well as on drinks and, as one the pages below shows, a paragraph about adulteration of beer. Stuck at the back of the volume is a fold-out of illustrations on proper construction of a chimney, too!

Because both the Manuel complet d’économie domestique and our last item are particularly fragile, I was only able to safely scan a few pages, but hopefully they give you a sense of the books. Neues und bewährtes illustriertes Kochbuch für alle Stände: zuverlässige Anleitung zur Bereitung der verschiedenartigsten Speisen, Backwerke, Getränke etc. was written by Henriette Davidis and dates to the late 1890s. The paper is fairly acidic, which is why it has taken on a darker color and tears easily. Both the front and back covers came free long ago, too, as I discovered–but it does have an interesting picture on the front.


This is strictly a cookbook and, in typical style of the era and origin, is written in a lovely Fraktur font.

Fraktur does seem daunting, but it was used for a lot of German language publishing from the 16th to the mid-20th centuries. Learning to read it is kind of like learning to read 18th or 19th century handwriting–it takes a bit of practice, but you can start to decipher it. Of course,  you still need to be able to understand German, too. The first page above has some pages from the chapter on sauces, including the classic Hollandaise and a remoulade, as well as a lemon butter and a sardine sauce. The second page, if can’t guess from the illustrations, is from the chapter on fish. The third page includes the introduction to the section on baking (tortes, cakes, yeast breads, lard-based treats, and the like).

Non-English language culinary publications can present a different set of challenges for researchers who don’t speak the language, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore them. Culinary traditions can travel across boundaries, oceans, and languages, so we need to embrace those challenges, leverage resources that can help make them accessible, and see what we kind find, hidden away in their pages. You just might find the best recipe for an Apfeltorte where you least (or most) expect it!


On a culinary-related note, I’ve been in clean-up mode lately. As a result, I have moved some culinary history ephemera that was previously digitized to a public home on Special Collections’ digital site: VT Special Collections Online. The main page will show you recent additions, many of which include these items. You can also check out some individual manuscript collections here (some of which were previously added and some of which are new additions) and our digitized books and publications here. I’m hoping to add more materials in the future, too!

New Pamphlet Round-Up #6!

It’s time again for another pamphlet round-up! (Side note: As with last time around, these are all brand new items. They haven’t been added to the Culinary Pamphlet Collection yet, but they will be soon! I’m actually getting some processing done this summer!) Presented in no particular order:

“Winter Menu Magic” comes from the National Biscuit Company (which you might know as Nabisco these days), and was published in 1933. It largely focuses on simple, thrifty, one-dish meals, including things like a “Vegetarian Loaf” made with graham crackers, a “Beefsteak and Oyster Pie,” and for those more special Sunday Dinners, a “Lobster Bisque.”
“The Story of Sugar Cane” is a history of, you guessed it, sugar cane, from the American Sugar Refining Company. The American Sugar Refining Company owned several brands, including Sunny Cane, Franklin, and Domino.
“Infant Feeding and Hygiene” is a 1913 pamphlet from the Nestle’s Food Company. It’s a multi-part booklet that covers care and feeding of the well and sick child, as well as a whole section on Nestle’s food itself. It contains testimonials and pictures of happy babies who have, presumably, been fed the namesake product.
This item necessitated scanning two pages. The cover title continues on the title page: “Bread and–Swift’s Premium Oleomargarine.” I love the “Not touched by hand” tagline, which, although the pamphlet isn’t dated, points to a period where machine production and sanitary environments were on the minds of consumers AND corporations.

“Good Things to Eat” comes from D&C Quality Food Products and dates from 1928. The company was based in Brooklyn and made a number of convenience items, including “My-T-Fine pudding,” flour, and pie mix.
“Creative Cooking with Cottage Cheese” is from the American Dairy Association and probably dates to the 1960s. “Creative” is right: there are dips, breads, meatless and meat main dishes, veggie,s, salads, a couple of sandwiches, and a heap of desserts.
Last up is “Meat in the Meal for Health Defense,” a 1942 pamphlet from the National Livestock and Meat Board. It includes recipes and advice for feeding a family in compliance with nutrition programs and defense efforts.

This is only about 1/5 of the pamphlet backlog in my office at present, but there are definitely some good discoveries, no matter what your interest. As always, you’re welcome to come view items–even the unprocessed ones–and visit us in Special Collections. We’ll be here all summer!

More on the Mary Frances Series

Back in 2012, one of my early posts on a children’s cookbook was about the two copies of The Mary Frances Cook Book or Adventures Among the Kitchen People that we had in our collection. While that post was about the two different covers between editions of the same year, at the time, I didn’t do much research into Mary Frances as a character. A couple of months, completely by chance, I discovered she was the star of not only one book, but seven! Not only that, we had two more on our shelves!

First, there’s The Mary Frances Sewing Book; or, Adventures Among the Thimble People (1913).

Our copy is actually a 1997 reprint, which is why the cover looks newer, but the contents are the same as the 1913. The preface references the previous volume from 1912, and the style is much the same. This book combines stories, fairy tale-esque characters, simple lessons (in this case, patterns and stitches) to teach lessons and sewing and mending. (I love how nicely illustrated these books are!)

The other title, which I happened to spot on the shelf while I was browsing for something completely different, is The Mary Frances Garden Book: or, Adventures Among the Garden People (1916).

Our copy is an original 1916 (as you can see from some of the wear and tear). One additional element of this book is that it includes little garden cut-out pieces and fold out pages in which to place them. Our copy has a number of loose cut-outs tucked in among the pages and even some slits in pages to suggest it saw some use from some little girl or boy.

The whole series (as far as I can tell) consist of seven books, published over 9 years:

  • The Mary Frances Cook Book or Adventures Among the Kitchen People (1912)
  • The Mary Frances Sewing Book; or, Adventures Among the Thimble People (1913)
  • The Mary Frances Housekeeper, or, Adventures Among the Doll People (1914)
  • The Mary Frances First Aid Book: with Ready Reference List of Ordinary Accidents and Illnesses, and Approved Home Remedies (1916)
  • The Mary Frances Garden Book: or, Adventures Among the Garden People (1916)
  • The Mary Frances Knitting and Crocheting Book, or, Adventures Among the Knitting People (1918)
  • The Mary Frances Story Book: or, Adventures Among the Story People (1921)

Given the time period, this series appears to have been a multi-volume tutorial for young girls. It covers skills they would have been expected to have as wives, mothers, leaders of a family, and as educators of future children. Their storybook style and fairy tale themes can make them a little deceptive, but the lessons are clearly there. My lesson from this post? I have some more Mary Frances books to track down so we can complete our set!

Alcohol by Mail, Early 20th Century Style

Like a good blogger, I have a constant list of ideas in a file somewhere: culinary books, ephemera, or collections to write about some day. Today’s feature has been on my list, probably since the day we got it (or very nearly). I forgot about it for a while, then put it on the list some months ago. It seems as good a day as any to look at an item about mail order booze…

The image above is a c.1910s mail order price list from Lowenbach Bros. At the time we acquired the item, tempted as I was to lose hours on a single sheet of paper, I resisted. Which is to say, I didn’t go down the genealogy road and attempt to identify or locate one or more actual Lowenbach brothers who may have been connected to the business. So, you can imagine how excited I was to do a little digging this morning for the first time in 4+ years and discover someone else was very interested in this family and had written about it on a blog devoted to the pre-Prohibition whiskey industry. So, if you want to learn about the Lowenbach family, which included three generations, check out the post on “Those Pre-Pro Whiskey Men.” It’s worth noting that the referenced blog post points the origins of the business being even closer to Blacksburg than Alexandria–it was in Harrisonburg!

(Hmm, what? Where were we? I may have been a bit distracted by the discovery of that blog…)

Anyway, our collection consists of this single mail order flyer. If you’re a cocktail historian or fan, many or all of the brands listed may seem unfamiliar. While there are certain brands and distillery locations that have been around for the long haul (a version of Old Crow, for example, has been around since the 1830s, though it’s had many evolutions). There were also plenty of more short-lived ones, too. And, as we know, Prohibition took a lot of business out of the running–including the Lowenbach Bros. I suspect this price list dates to the early 1910s, as the company was shut down by the ban and didn’t reopen afterward (at least not under the same or a similar name). I also love that the flyer includes bottled cocktails in three kinds from three different companies. Bottled cocktails have been around since the early days and while some version of them has always been on the shelves, there was a distinct decline in the latter half of the 20th century. Interest in them is on the rise again, as well as in barrel-aged cocktails. I feel like the Lowenbachs would have been behind that trend, too. After all barrels have always been integral to distilling and transporting alcohol.

I digitized the item for the post and since the whole collection is this one item, I was able to add to our digital collection site. You can look at it in on the web here: https://digitalsc.lib.vt.edu/items/show/6946. You can also read the finding aid online for the collection, too (though it may be time to re-visit it and add a bit more).

Items like this may seem odd or out of place, but they can still give us some great insight into cocktail culture and alcohol history. We’re here all summer, if you need some cocktail (or culinary) inspiration or just want to dig through some fun ephemera. You never know what you might find!

Closure Announcement: May 18, 2017

Please note: Special Collections will be closed to the public on Thursday, May 18, 2017, while we have some internal staff meetings. We will reopen as usual at 8am on Friday, May 19, 2017.

However, if you are attending the Old Guard Reunion on campus this week and will be at Thursday’s Peacock-Harper Culinary History Friends-sponsored luncheon, we will be there with a display of materials from Special Collections. We encourage you to drop by and say hello!

Community Cooking in (and Beyond) the Bluegrass State

Housekeeping in the Blue Grass: A New and Practical Cook Book Containing Nearly a Thousand Recipes was originally published in 1875. The copy is one of the 10th “new and enlarged” edition, first issued in 1879, but our actual copy is from 1881. Compiled and edited by the Ladies of the Presbyterian Church in Paris, Kentucky, these 206 pages are packed with recipes from women (and a few men) from mostly Kentucky, but also Virginia, Arkansas, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

Our edition includes the original 1875 preface, which we can’t NOT quote a bit of for you:

The “Blue Grass” region of Kentucky, as is well know, is considered the garden spot of the State. It is celebrated for the fertility of its soil, the beauty of its pastures, its flocks and blooded stock, and last, but not least, for the hospitality of its people and their table luxuries.

It is useless to enlarge upon the last feature, especially to those who have attended Bourbon Fairs [that’s the county, not the whiskey], and made visits in this and the adjoining counties. We only refer to it, by way of introducing our book to the appreciation of the public.

The 1879 also had a preface of its own, which states, in part:

…Nine thousand copies have been sold, and its praises have been sung by many of the best housekeepers of the land.

In sending forth this new edition, we have corrected some errors, supplied defects, and added many valuable recipes, which will be found at the close of each section and in the Miscellaneous department.

The entire profits of this work have been, and will continue to be, devoted to religious charity.

Housekeeping in the Blue Grass was, at its core, a community cookbook, designed to raise funds for a cause. But the fact that it went on into at least 10 editions and over 9,000 copies sold says a lot for this little volume. (There was at least one more edition in 1905 AND it has been reprinted  at least once in the last 10 years.) It clearly appealed to a wide audience (not just Kentuckians!) in its originality. (The preface also states that “Many of our recipes are entirely original with our own famed cooks; others have been gathered from the most reliable sources; not one, so far as we know, has been copied from books.”) So, what are these amazing recipes?

Housekeeping in the Blue Grass has elements we see in many other cookbooks of the time: sections for home remedies, home cleaning/upkeep, and cooking for invalids, in addition to all the other recipes. Of course, it also reflects a different era of cooking. The majority of the recipes have a list of ingredients in non-standard amounts (standardized measurements, courtesy of Fannie Farmer, were still several years in the future in 1881) and, in some cases, additional directions, but there was still an assumption that a reader would know what to do with those ingredients. Or, they would at least understand the basics of producing a pudding, a white sauce, or a pastry dough as a component. Compared to many modern cookbooks, there was a different set of expectations on home cooks in the late 19th century! Some of the basics may be covered in the book (Housekeeping in the Blue Grass has recipes for pie crust that you could use throughout, for example), but there’s no guarantee.

Community cookbooks were aptly named, especially in their early days–they weren’t just something produced by a community group (often of women). They were produced by a community of cooks, for a community of new and experienced cooks, and to help build community between those who had the knowledge and those who might have needed some culinary and domestic education. That’s a whole other topic we don’t have space for here today, but it is food for thought (at least it has been for me lately).

Housekeeping in the Blue Grass is available online, as it was scanned by Special Collections staff some years ago. So, if our amuse-bouche (I love that word!) of a blog post isn’t enough for you, you can delve further into the book and find recipes for deviled turkey, Sally Lunn, or fish pie…