Firsts and Technological Marvels
Pan-American Exposition gave manufacturers the opportunity to exhibit
their products and introduce the latest technological innovations to an
eager and ready-to-buy public. In addition to the food company exhibits
like those of the Libby's and the Quaker Oats Companies, the Manufactures
and Liberal Arts Building housed vendors showing off new tools and gadgets,
some designed for industry and others for an up and coming market----the
of the foods we recognize and still use today were developed during the
period between 1850 and 1900. Many of these were exhibited at the Pan-American
Exposition, where many vendors promoted the "healthful" effects
of their products. Indeed the mid-to-late 19th century was a period which
saw the beginnings of what we now know as "nutritional science."
Scientists began to see a relationship between health and food and the
advances in analytical chemistry and provided the scientific data to prove
Of course, advertisers
jumped on this early incarnation of the adage, "you are what you
eat." By 1901, food advertisements emphasized the "wholesomeness"
and "healthfulness" of their products. The American Cereal Company's
Quaker Oats ads echoed claims that its cereal "leads to good health"
telling people to eat less meat and "more Quaker Oats" while
Dold's Packing Company, insisted that their "Corn-fed porkers make
sweet healthful food." At fairs and venues like the Pan-American
Exposition, vendors distributed literature on tradecards and hired "barkers"
to "sell" to the public the idea that their products would make
a person feel better and live longer.
the related page Food and Health.
Canned and Packaged Foods
as the emphasis on eating healthier food grew, so did the public's desire
for quick and easy to serve processed food products. The late 19th Century
saw the development of the canned meat and fruit industries--Libby's,
Armour's, Van Camp, Borden and Heinz were the giants of the day. During
this period saccharin, synthetic vanilla, and flaked cereal also entered
the market, as well as the myriad of soda pop brands, most of which are
still in use today. The decade of the 1890's was an especially lucrative
one for "quick food" producers with products like minute tapioca,
"instant" cereal, condensed soup, and pre-ground coffee guaranteed
to ease the labor of meal preparation.
The first metal cans/containers
were patented by Englishman Thomas Kensett 1825. While canned meats, fruits
and vegetables were produced in America on a limited basis prior to the
1850's, the Civil War "created a significant need for portable foods
to feed the troops and as a result, the canning industry rapidly expanded."1
Opening canned foods was somewhat problematic until the invention of the
can opener in the 1860's. Development of an opener was possible once cans
were made of steel rather than iron.
initial response to canned foods was one of skepticism and the age-old
practice of "putting-up" preserves, fruits and vegetables
at home continued in many middle-class kitchens. By the time the new
century had arrived, hundreds of food products were being commercially
prepared and sales began to indicate the American housekeeper was
embracing the convenient new products. Not only did packaged goods
bring economy to the kitchen in terms of time and convenience but
the increased availability of fruits and vegetables all year round
meant the family no longer had to dine according to what was in season.2
Most processed foods were preserved in cans and containers made out
of tin. Boxes proved ideal for cereal, salt, powdered gelatin, soups,
at the Fair
Exposition was not the first fair at which popcorn was a major concession.
In his book "Popped Culture,"3
Andrew F. Smith discusses the history of popcorn and discusses its appearance
at the Columbian Exposition in 1893. Besides the traditional popped corn
sold by numerous vendors, visitors could try Frederick Rueckheim's special
mixture of popcorn, molasses and peanuts. This concoction would eventually
become "Cracker Jack."
While no one is exactly
sure when the history of popcorn began, it was not until the late 19th
century that it took on popularity as not only a snack food, but a healthful
one at that. Ella Kellogg, wife of heath-food guru John Harvey Kellogg,
(sister-in-law of future cereal magnate William K. Kellogg) promoted popcorn
as more than a snack food. She urged people to eat it "in connection
with other food at mealtime, and not as a delicacy between meals."4
Of course, popcorn
found lasting popularity as a snack food and as such, become a lucrative
concession at fairs and expositions. Popcorn concessions proved profitable
not only to the concessionaires, but also to the exposition managers,
who were paid sizable percentages of the proceeds. For instance, George
A. Dirpberger, of Buffalo, was the popcorn vendor listed in the ledgers
of Frederick William Taylor, the Head of Concessions at the Pan-American
Exposition. While Mr. Dirpberger paid "regular rate" for the
space he rented on the North Midway, he also paid 50% of sales to the
Thieves Clean Up Until Caught
Express of 4 May 1901 reported popcorn vendors chanting such
rhymes as: "Lovely eyes come shine and glitter; Buy your girl
a popcorn fritter." Popcorn was a lucrative business at the
Pan-American Exposition and on 23 August 1901 four males, ranging
in age from 13 to 22, were arrested for stealing popcorn sales.
A few weeks
earlier it became apparent to officials of the Exposition that their
returns from the popcorn concession were not up to the mark. This
concession was owned by George Dirpberger. The popcorn sold on the
grounds was put up in consecutively numbered paper bags. In this
way, Exposition officials were able to keep track of the percentage
of profits accruing to the Exposition from this concession. When
one of these bags was lost or stolen, the loss fell on Mr. Dirpberger.
Culp and Smith, two of the accused males, were employed by Dirpberger
in his headquarters on the north Midway. Clelland and Sullivan,
the other two accused males, were employed on the small wagons that
distributed the popcorn throughout the grounds.
reported that Clelland conceived the idea that if he could get possession
of a sufficient number of these bags there was a small fortune to
be made. Clelland unfolded a scheme to Sullivan and persuaded Culp
and Smith to steal a quantity of the numbered bags from Dirpberger's
headquarters each day. Culp and Smith were paid a cent a piece for
each bag by the other two. The bags were then filled by Clelland
and Sullivan and were easily disposed of, netting them a profit
of 4 cents per bag.
were working like a charm, and it is estimated that the loss to
Dirpberger through their operations had amounted to about $500,
when they were discovered.
24 August 1901.
Orangeade was sold
at concession stands and booths scattered throughout the grounds of the
Pan-American Exposition. This drink, developed during the Civil War, was
a mixture of orange juice, an infusion of the orange peel, and thin sugar
syrup. Orange or lemon syrups were also used to make ades. A pound and
a half of sugar was added to pint of juice, a bit of the peel, and then
boiled for ten minutes. The liquid was then strained and either bottled
or served over ice.6
To find the locations
of Orangeade vendors, see the map of the Softdrink
Vendors, Restaurants and Toilets Located on the Exposition Grounds.
Cream and Soda Water
The years leading
up to the Pan-American Exposition proved to be periods of intense growth
in the ice cream and soda water industries. Five million gallons of ice
cream were being produced in the United States in 1899, largely due to
the invention of mechanical refrigeration and new types of freezers.7
Soda water, which had its origins in medicine, first appeared in a flavored
variety in the 1830's. It was a hit at the 1876 Centennial Exposition
in Philadelphia but it wasn't until the ice cream soda was invented that
the growth of both industries literally exploded. While there are numerous
disputes as to who actually "discovered" this mixture of soda
water and ice cream, there is no arguing its enormous popularity. By 1895,
there were 50,000 to 60,000 soda fountains in the United States, operating
in drug stores, restaurants, confectionaries and roadside push carts.8
It is no wonder that an event the size of the Pan-American Exposition
needed at roughly 20 ice cream and soda water vendors. (See the map of
Softdrink Vendors, Restaurants, etc. )
ice cream soda continued to gain popularity well into the 20th century.
However, during the last decade of the 1800s, the soda water industry
was also growing in a direction that did not include ice cream. While
root beer was being produced in mass quantities as early as 1876 and the
first cola flavored beverages were introduced in the mid-1880's, the development
of the modern soft drink industry was made possible by the invention of
the Crown bottlecap in 1892. "Tiny in design, the crown completely
revolutionized the soft drink industry by preventing the escape of carbon
dioxide from bottled beverages. In fact, it was the dominant soft drink
closure for more than 70 years."9
Water vendors on the Midway
More Food Firsts
1901, Quaker Oats cereals and the Natural Food Company's Triscuit were
relatively new products, having been developed in 1891 and 1895 respectively.
Others fledgling products included Cream of Wheat, Jell-O, Canada Dry
Ginger Ale, Michelob beer and the Hershey bar. By the advent of the Pan-American
Exposition, the country had experienced a number of "food firsts,"
many of which debuted at other world's fairs and expositions. Here are
a few examples:
Robert M. Green, a concessionaire at a fair in Philadelphia, claims
to have invented the ice cream soda when he substituted it from
the cream he added to soft drinks. While the origin of the soda
cannot be verified, Green's story seems to be the most well-known.
Hires Root Beer debuted at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.
First sold by pharmacist John Pemberton as a tonic, this drink contained
-- Peanut Butter
Dr. John Harvey Kelloggs' patent for the "Process of Preparing
Nut Meal" in 1895 described "a pasty adhesive substance
that is for convenience of distinction termed nut butter."
He developed this as a protein source for his vegetarian patients.
Over the next 20 years, this nut meal would be refined into the
peanut butter we know today.
coated popcorn and peanuts are said to have been introduced at the
World's Columbian Exposition by F.W. Rueckheim in 1893. By 1896,
Louis Rueckheim discovered the process for keeping the molasses-covered
popcorn from sticking together. The Cracker Jack was born. See FritoLay's
Cracker Jack site at http://www.crackerjack.com.
See also Jim Davis' "Craker Jack Box" site at http://members.cox.net/jeepers/CrackerJackBox.html.
Leo Hirshfield named this soft chewy candie after his daughter.
The Campbell's company developed condensed soup in 1897. In 1900
Campbell's soups won the Gold Medallion for excellence at the Paris
Exposition. This medallion has been featured on its labels ever
Pearl B. Wait, from LeRoy, New York, developed a fruit-flavored
version of Cooper's gelatin. It was given the name Jell-O by his
wife and was available in strawberry, raspberry, orange and lemon
flavors at the time.
-- Coney Island Hot Dog
Feltman opened the first Coney Island hot dog stand in 1900. The
frankfurter had been introduced in the 1850's, but it was not until
Antonoine Feuchtwanger of St. Louis improvised the hot dog bun in
1883 that this sandwich began to resemble the modern-day ball park
standard. Frankfurter sandwiches or "red hots" were extremely
popular at the World's Columbian Exposition because they were inexpensive
and easy to eat.10 Visitors to the
Pan-American Exposition could buy "Coney Island Hot Dogs"
at the Indian Congress Restaurant.
Made from cottonseed oil and beef tallow, this product was promoted
as a healthy alternative to lard. In "Cottolene: The Mysterious
Disappearance of Lard,"11 Alice
Ross credits Cottolene with the demise of lard in the American diet.
Cottolene was exhibited at the Pan-American Exposition by the N.
K. Fairbank Company.
food firsts of the late 19th and early 20th centuries are listed below,
courtesy of "The Food
Timeline" at http://www.foodtimeline.org/
1876--Premium soda crackers (later Saltines)
1881-- Pillsbury flour
1888--Log Cabin syrup
1889--Aunt Jemima pancake mix
1889--Calumet Baking Powder
1889--Pabst Brewing Company
1890--Libby introduces keys to canned meat
1891--Quaker Oats Company
1893--Cream of Wheat
1893--Good & Plenty
1896--S&W canned foods
1897--Campbell's condensed soup
1897--Campbell's tomato soup
1898--Nabisco graham crackers
1898--shredded wheat cereal
1900--Hershey's chocolate bar
Move on to Food-Related Marvels
1. Ellen M. Plante, The American Kitchen, 1700 to
the Present: From Hearth to Highrise (New York: Facts on File, 1995),
3. Andrew F. Smith. Popped Culture : a Social History
of Popcorn in America. Columbia, S.C. : University of South Carolina
4. Ibid., p.36.
5. Frederick William Taylor Papers, 1897-1944. Collection
No. 153. Held in the Department of Special Collections, UCLA. Special
thanks to Carol A. Turley for her assistance with the ledger entries.
6. "Invention Facts and Myths" The Great
Idea Finder. Online. URL: http://www.ideafinder.com/history/of_inventions.htm.
Last accessed 12 May 2002.
Stradley. History of Ice Cream Cones. c2004. Online.
Last accessed 10 June 2010..
Cooper Funderburg. Chocolate, Strawberry, and Vanilla: A History of
American Ice Cream. Bowling Green, OH : Bowling Green State University
Press, 1995. p.97
National Soft Drink Association. The History of America and Soft Drinks
Go Hand in Hand. c1999. Online.
Last accessed 12 May 2002. (Link no longer active).
10. Linda Stradley. Hot Dogs - History and Legends of Hot Dogs.
c2004. Online. http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/HotDog/HDIndex.htm.
Last accessed 10 June 2010..
Ross. "Cottolene: The Mysterious Disappearance of Lard." Hearth
to Hearth (February 2002.) Online. http://www.journalofantiques.com/Feb02/hearthfeb.htm.
Last accessed May 5, 2002.
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