Recipes on a Budget

"Affordable Recipes for All"

A Food is Born – 1


According to The Bagels’ Bagel Book:  “In 1683 in Vienna, Austria, a local Jewish baker wanted to thank the King of Poland for protecting his countrymen from Turkish invaders.  He made a special hard roll in the shape of a riding stirrup – Beugel in German – commemorating the king’s favorite pastime, and giving the bagel its distinctive shape.”


Originally brought to France by Duc de Richelieu, who tasted it while visiting Mahon, a city on the island of Minorca.  It was eventually dubbed Mahonaisse by French chefs, and was considered a delicacy in Europe.  In America, it became known as mayonnaise, but for over a century was still regarded as suitable for only the most elegant meals.  Finally, in 1912, Richard Hellman, a German immigrant, began packing it and selling it in jars from his New York deli.  This transformed mayonnaise from a carefully prepared treat for the select few to a mass-merchandized condiment.


According to 60s!, by John and Gordon Javna:  “In 1965, Dr. Robert Cade was studying the effects of heat exhaustion on football players at the University of Florida (whose team is the Gators).  He analyzed the boy liquids lost in sweating and within three minutes came up with the formula for Gatorade.  Two years later, Cade sold the formula to Stokely-Van Camp.  Soon, annual sales were well over $50 million and Gatorade could be found on the training tables of over 300 college sports teams, 1,000 high school squads, and all but 2 pro football teams.”


According to Parade magazine:  “In October 1929, just before the stock market crash, St. Louis businessman Charles L. Grigg began marketing a beverage called Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda.  His slogan: ‘Takes the “Ouch” out of Grouch.’  The drink was a huge success during the depression, perhaps because it contained lithium, a powerful drug now prescribed for manic-depressives.  The drink’s unwieldy name was later changed to 7-Up.  The ‘7’ stood for its 7-ounce bottle, the “Up” for ‘bottoms up,’ or for the bubbles rising from its heavy carbonation, which was later reduced.  The lithium was listed on the label until the mid-‘40s.”

 Tea Bags

In 1908, a New York tea importer mailed his customers free samples of tea, which he packaged in tiny silk bags.  When customers wrote back asking for more of the bags, the importer realized they were using them to steep the tea. . .and began packaging all his tea the same way.


Eleven-year-old Frank Epperson accidentally left a mixture of powdered soda mix and water on his back porch one winter night in 1905.  The next morning, he found the stuff frozen, with the stirring stick standing straight up in the jar.  He pulled it out, and had the first “Epperson icicle” – or “Epsicle.”  He later renamed it “Popsicle,” since he’d made it with soda pop.  It was patented in 1923, 18 years later.

 The Ice Cream Cone

It happened at the 1904 World’s Fair in Saint Louis (where the hot dog and the hamburger were also popularized).  An ice cream vendor who was selling cups of the frozen dessert had so many customers in the hot weather that he ran out of cups.  In desperation, he looked around to see if another nearby vendor might have some spare containers, but all he could find was a waffle concession.  He quickly bought some waffles and began selling them wrapped around a scoop of ice cream.  The substitute became even more popular than the original, and it spread around the country.

 Dr. Pepper

In Virginia in the 1880s, a pharmacist’s assistant named Wade Morrison fell in love with his boss’s daughter.  The pharmacists decided Morrison was too old for his daughter and encouraged him to move on.  He did, settling in Waco, Texas, where he bough his own drugstore.  When one of his employees developed a new soft drink syrup, Morrison named it after the man who got him started in the pharmacy business – his old flame’s father, Dr. Kenneth Pepper.


The Chinese invented ke-tsiap – a concoction of pickled fish and spices (but no tomatoes) – in the 1690s.  By the early 1700s, its popularity had spread to Malaysia, where British explorers first encountered it. . .and by 1740 the sauce – renamed ketchup – was an English staple.  However, it wasn’t until the 1790s that New England colonists first mixed tomatoes into the sauce.  The reason:  Until then, it was widely believed that tomatoes (a close relative of the toxic belladonna and nightshade plants) were poisonous.

Making tomato ketchup at home is a tedious all-day project, and American housewives hated the process.  So when Henry J. Heinz introduced bottled ketchup in 1875, he promoted it as a labor-saving device.  His first slogan was :  “Blessed relief for Mother and the other women of the household.”  By the 1980s, Heinz ketchup was in one of every two households in the U.S.


Invented in 1921 by a Minneapolis health spa owner who fed his patients homemade bran gruel to keep them regular and help them lose weight.  One day he spilled some on the stove and it hardened into a crust.  He was going to throw it out, but tasted it first.  To his surprise, the flakes he scraped off the stove were better than the stuff in the pot.  He made more and showed them to a friend at the Washburn Crosby Company (predecessor of General Mills).  People at the company liked the flakes, too, but didn’t like the way they crumbled.  So they came up with a better flake – using wheat.  Then they held a company-wide contest to name the product.  Jane Bausman, the wife of a company executive, suggested Wheaties.

 Bubble Gum

The first bubble gum was invented by Frank Fleer in 1906 – but never made it to market.  It was so sticky that the only way to remove it from skin was with vigorous scrubbing and turpentine.  It took Fleer more than 20 years to fix the recipe.  In 1928, the “new, improved” gum was introduced as Dubble Bubble gum.  Fleer made it pink because pink happened to be the only food coloring on the shelf the day the first commercial batch of Dubble Bubble was made.  When his gum became the largest selling penny candy on the market, other manufacturers copied it. . .including the color.  Now pink is the standard color for bubble gum.

 Girl Scout Cookies

The Girl Scouts were founded in 1912.  For 20 years they raised money by selling knitted clothes, baked goods, and chickens.  Then, in 1934, a Philadelphia Girl Scout leader (who was also a press agent) came up with the idea of selling a vanilla cookie in the shape of the Girl Scout seal.  She contracted with a local bakery to make them.

One day she heard that reporters would be interviewing actresses at a local flower show.  Figuring her Girl Scout troop would get free publicity if they showed up selling cookies, she sent a contingent to the show.  They were astounded by the response.  The troop got so much publicity and sold so many cookies that Girl Scout troops all over the country began emulating them.  Within three years, more than a hundred local councils were selling the same professionally baked cookies.  It was the beginning of an American institution.  In 1990 the Girl Scouts sold 130 million boxes of cookies – the equivalent of 13 cookies for every person in the United States.

 Pepperidge Farm Products

One of Margaret Rudkin’s sons suffered from severe asthma, a condition that became worse when he ate processed foods.  She couldn’t find any bread that didn’t make him ill, so in 1935 she started baking him stone-ground, whole-wheat bread.  One day she brought a loaf to the boy’s doctor; he liked it so much, he began recommending it to other patients.  After building up a small mail-order business to local asthmatics and allergy-sufferers, she expanded her customer base to include people who weren’t sick – and named her company after the family’s 125-acre farm in Connecticut, Pepperidge Farm.


In 1912, a Cleveland candy-maker named Clarence Crane decided to make a mint to sell in the summer.  Until then, most mints were imported from Europe; Crane figured he could cut the price by making them in the U.S.  He had the candy manufactured by a pill-maker – who discovered that his machinery would only work if it punched a hole in the middle of each candy.  So Crane called the mints Lifesavers.


10/06/2009 - Posted by | Food Origins


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