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10 Stories: Glorious Food! Chronicling America

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In celebration of the release of the 10 millionth page of Chronicling America, our free, online searchable database of historical U.S. newspapers, our reference librarians have selected some interesting subjects and articles from the archives. We’ve been sharing them in a series of Throwback Thursday #TBT blog posts.

Today we return to our historical newspaper archives for stories about food. Recipes, spreads for special occasions, peculiar ingredients and much more.

Drawing of woman making pickles
“German Pickles,” illustration from the San Francisco Call, May 28, 1911.

California Women Who Cook
This regular feature in the San Francisco Call features, in its May 28, 1911, edition, a cornucopia of recipes and suggestions, from “Two Ways to Prepare Chicken” to “Some Excellent Raisin Recipes” to guides for the preparation of whole wheat bread, roast breast of veal with potato stuffing and German pickles.

From Soup to Nuts on Christmas Day
Both are appropriate holiday victuals, but this article from the New York Tribune of Dec. 19, 1915, offers much more, including Coeur Sensible aux Fraises (Iced Heart Sensible with Strawberries), Potatoes Champs Elysee and Chaudfroid of Pheasant Jeanette.

War Bread
War bread “is good bread when baked in a safe, sure oven of a Gas Range,” says Pacific Gas & Electric, not unexpectedly, in an ad complete with recipe (including lard!) from the Arizona Republican, January 9, 1918.

State Chocolate Recipes
In another installment of “California Women Who Cook,” various states of the union are represented by recipes for their traditional chocolate favorites, including that classic crowd-pleaser, Kansas Prune Chocolate. San Francisco Call, May 12, 1912.

Mysteries of Cake Baking
Expert Helen Louise Johnson reveals the hidden culinary arts, including “Cake-Baking of Ante-Bellum Days” and warns that there is “No Such Thing as Luck in Cooking,” in the Marion (Ohio) Daily Mirror, April 15, 1911.

Peanut Butter Omelet
Among other peanut butter recipes in this special section of “Helpful Hints for the Thrifty Farmer” is this unusual item that doesn’t sound too bad. Also included are a peanut butter loaf (with bread crumbs, rice and chopped olives) and peanut butter salad dressing. Williston (N.D.) Graphic, Feb. 27, 1919.

Walnut Catsup
There was a time when catsup was not particularly synonymous with tomatoes. The Chicago Day Book of Sept. 23, 1912, featured a recipe for the sauce based on walnuts, then described variants based on shellfish (oysters, mussels and cockles) and mushrooms.

“Senator Garland of Arkansas” (apparently Augustus Hill Garland, who served in the Senates of both the United States and the Confederacy) gives advice on the proper preparation technique for this critter in the Morehouse Clarion of Bastrop, La. of August 26, 1881. He observes, “Rather than miss him entirely … I would try to eat him in any way I could find him, and really I am of opinion that he is better hot or cold, according to the state he is in when I last partake of him.”

Different Ways of Preparing Sweetbreads
From the New York Tribute, Feb. 20, 1915, and including roasted, creamed, braised, croquettes, with peppers, and in salad. Yum.

Two Recipes for Making Whiskey
Because simply one will not do. The Watauga (N.C.) Democrat of May 20, 1909, freely admits to pilfering these two recipes from the Asheville Citizen. The first, oddly enough, requires a gallon of corn whiskey to start. The second “is a little more complicated, and perhaps it is well that this is so because most of the ingredients are rank poisons.” It would be interesting to know whether circulation for the paper dropped following this issue.

Speaking of Chronicling America, the National Endowment for the Humanities (our partner in the project) has launched a nationwide contest, challenging you to produce creative web-based projects using data pulled from the newspaper archives website. We’re looking for data visualizations, web-based tools or other innovative web-based projects using the open data found on Chronicling America. NEH will award cash prizes, and the contest closes June 15, 2016.

Launched by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in 2007, Chronicling America provides enhanced and permanent access to historically significant newspapers published in the United States between 1836 and 1922. It is part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a joint effort between the two agencies and partners in 40 states and territories. Start exploring the first draft of history today at and help us celebrate on Twitter and Facebook by sharing your findings and using the hashtags #ChronAm #10Million.


  1. Nice post. I was thinking that it might be fun to try one of those chocolate recipes. Then I read that the Maryland Chocolate Drops require being beaten for a half hour!!! I guess you’d work of the calories you’d be eating, but I think I’ll pass!

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