We don't just blog about food here at the museum. We celebrate it in our demonstration kitchen programs and our multiday Smithsonian Food History Weekend. We'll keep up the delicious fun next year. For now, check out the eight blog posts that were this year's cream of the crop.
Squash, corn, cranberries, and turkey—they're as familiar on our Thanksgiving tables as pumpkin pie. How did these ingredients become such an important part of the annual feast?
My favorite foodie factoid: Colonists enjoyed dried pumpkin, especially in a popular cocktail called a "flip," which included sugar, molasses, strong beer, and rum. Sign me up.
Before electric refrigeration, a whole industry kept American ice boxes supplied with chunks of ice—a messy and unreliable way to preserve food that I'm glad I missed.
My favorite foodie factoid: Bigger was better. If a harvested chunk of ice was less than eight inches thick, it would melt too quickly during transportation.
We interviewed Ruth Clark, the creator of a blog called "Mid-Century Menu." Ruth hunts down vintage recipes and taste-tests them.
My favorite foodie factoid: Ruth's favorite gelatin dish is "Under the Sea" salad. Ingredients include lime Jell-O, cream cheese, and canned pears.
The first African American woman to earn a position as a copywriter at J. Walter Thompson, one of the nation's leading advertising firms, was Caroline R. Jones. She went on to found her own firm and attract an impressive client list. She developed ads for Campbell's Soup and other familiar brands.
My favorite foodie factoid: In 1979, she came up with the slogan "We Do Chicken Right!" for Kentucky Fried Chicken (now KFC), which wanted to increase its brand's visibility among African Americans in the New York region. The slogan performed brilliantly and, by the 1980s, was in use in national ad campaigns.
The tangy hot sauce has a deep connection to military history.
My favorite foodie factoid: When the McIlhenny family returned to their plantation on Avery Island, Louisiana, after the Civil War, they discovered that their garden of Capsicum peppers had survived. The McIlhennys began selling their legendary hot sauce in 1868.
Early colonists brought egg-laying chickens with them from Europe—but Americans didn't actually eat much chicken.
My favorite foodie factoid: When did Americans eat chicken meat? Once a chicken stopped producing eggs, you might prepare the older, tougher bird in a long-cooked, tenderized-by-heat stew or casserole.
Whether you're a sushi fan or not, this blog post is a great example of how much you can learn about American history through the lens of food.
My favorite foodie factoid: To get Americans to try sushi in the mid-1960s, chefs often hid the unfamiliar dried nori (seaweed) wrapping on the inside of the roll, covering the exterior of the "inside-out" roll with rice.
Archivist Cathy Keen brought us the story of Kubla Khan frozen foods, founded by a Chinese American former Army Air Force pilot who fought in World War II.
My favorite foodie factoid: When we think of frozen food, we sometimes envision factory-style processing. Not so for Kubla Khan. The food was made in small batches in actual woks!
Our focus on food history will continue in 2016 as we explore how democracy and community participation influence the food we grow, cook, and eat. What topics do you want us to blog about? Let us know!