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Foodonyms

Granny Smith Apples

In the 1860s, Australian grandmother Maria Ann Smith created this tart apple by mixing a late-ripening crabapple with her regular orchard apples.

McIntosh Apple

John McIntosh immigrated to Canada in the 1700s.  He found a grove of wild apple trees growing near his farm.  Word soon spread of their flavor and the McIntosh Red apple was born.  The trees were probably cultivated by an earlier Indian settlement.

Filbert

The filbert, also known as the hazelnut, got its name from St. Philbert.  In Greece, Italy, and Turkey, where the plant is native, the bush blooms around the Catholic saint’s feast day.

Loganberry

This berry from the raspberry family was cultivated in the home garden of California lawyer James Logan in 1881.

Boysenberry

Using loganberry, raspberry, and blackberry, botanist Rudolph Boysen developed this hybrid in the 1920s and ‘30s.

Macadamia

This nut, native to Australia, was discovered by European settlers in the 1800s.  It was named in 1859 by Australian botanist Ferdinand Von Mueller in honor of his friend Dr. John Macadam.  Macadam died at 38 without ever tasting the nut that bore his name.

Bartlett Pear

In the 1600s, an English schoolteacher named John Stair created a pear variety.  A horticulturist named Williams did some further breeding and named the result after himself.  Massachusetts nursery owner Enoch Bartlett became known for selling this variety.  Locals called the pear “Bartlett,” and this time the name stuck.

Melba Toast

Named for the Australian operatic singer Nellie Melba.  The dessert Peach melba was also named for her.  Both were invented by the French chef Auguste Escoffier, who seemed to have a little crush on Miss Melba.

Ritz Crackers

In 1934, the National Biscuit Company made a cracker with a lot more shortening so it glistened and shined.  The name is glommed from that grand hotel, the Ritz.

Waldorf Salad

A famous maitre d’ named Oscar Tschirky at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel created this salad of apple, nuts, and mayonnaise sometime around 1900.  He named it the Waldorf salad.

Graham Crackers

Graham flour is just whole wheat flour.  The name comes from the health nut, Rev. Dr. Sylvester Graham, who in the early 1800s preached that eating altered foods was a sin.  Graham believed that altered food led to sexual desires.

Fig Newton

Like all of the Boston-based Kennedy Biscuit Company’s cookies and crackers, the Fig Newton was named after a nearby town.  Other company products like the Beacon Hill, the Brighton, and the Quincy are lost to history, But Newton, Massachusetts, will always be remembered.

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08/06/2009 - Posted by | Food Origins

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