100 Years Ago: News from the Bloomington, Evening World Saturday, August 11, 1917

100 Years Ago: News from the Bloomington, Evening World Saturday, August 11, 1917

Foodie Friday—

Another shocking banner headline on the front page greeted Bloomington readers on this day in 1917, but this one regarding not a far off battle, but a disaster much closer to home – an explosion at a munitions factory in Gary. This early morning blast was being investigated as a deliberate act and it was reported that two suspects had already been arrested. Thankfully there were no injuries or fatalities reported. The work of the local Draft Board was also dutifully, and by now routinely, reported —  7 men passed inspection, 10 were rejected, 23 passed but claimed exemption. For the first time an update on previous exemption claims was given and 12 men were granted their requested exemptions. Front page readers were also assured that American’s great inventor-entrepreneur, Thomas Edison , was ­putting in 16 hour days at his Menlo Park facility to “beat the Kaiser.” Elsewhere in national news it was reported that the U.S. Department of Labor had extensively studied European war mobilization before the U.S. entered the war. Their conclusion:



Meanwhile in Bloomington, beating the August heat and preparing for winter still took center stage in the food column. Recipes for preserving summer’s bounty included: barberry and raisin preserve (I did not even know barberries were edible), rhubarb and fig conserve (which sounds like it would still be popular today) and tomato butter (sort of like apple butter but with tomatoes but also still includes applesauce in the recipe). If you got over-heated after all that canning you could cool down with the suggested cold drinks, for instance, lemonade, iced-tea (a blend of black and green tea is recommended), raspberry shrub (a slightly vinegary juice drink), chocolate milk (introduced like it was unheard of) or iced-coffee (which was on the other hand seeming relatively common, which is strange to me because I thought it was a new invention in the 1990s). The food column winds up with salads: cucumber jelly (the slightly more sophisticated gelatin based version of cucumber Jello salad), pea salad (with cheese, pickles and, yes, mayonnaise), beet salad (that includes an alarming amount of horseradish) and maraschino cherry and marshmallow salad. Most of these prove that the Midwestern taste for dessert-ish, mayonnaise laden salads may have reached its apogee in the 1950s-1970s but got its earliest start in the era of ice boxes and home delivered ice.

I may tackle some of these recipes in further food related posts, especially if I can prove that the museum’s barberry bush produces edible berries.

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