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University at Buffalo Libraries

Pan-American Exposition of 1901

Food and Drink


  • Maps to the Essentials

    Food, Drink, and Toilets: Find your way around the Pan with a map showing the location of the major restaurants and another, showing stands for various soft drink vendors, as well as toilets for men and women.

  • The Restaurants

    The Exposition was home to restaurants of every price and there were ample opportunities to try food from far away lands and to have a beer or two. One could enjoy a sandwich at a stand or a multi-course meal in swank surroundings. Local hotels and boarding houses also offered one or more meals. How expensive was it to eat at the Pan? A menu from the Pabst restaurant, along with background economic information, and some advice to visitors is given.

  • Personal Accounts and Stories

    Box lunches and free samples replaced or complemented the fare at the Exposition and some reporters delved into the depths of human nature and foibles by exploring people's reactions and interactions at these minor eating events.

  • Food Company Exhibits

    Many prominent contemporary companies were major businesses in 1901 and they exhibited their wares and stories and distributed food samples and brochures at the Exposition. Some companies had their own buildings, brightly colored and inviting visitors for a snack; others exhibited in Exposition buildings. The exhibits were generally elaborate and one of the most interesting was that of the Natural Food Company of Niagara Falls, makers of shredded wheat. Many companies received medals for specific products, as did a large number of Latin American companies.

  • New York State Agricultural Exhibits

    Here will be found photographs of the general agriculture exhibit and the vegetable, pomological, peach and grape, wine, diary, and apiarian exhibits.

  • The Exposition's Effect on Life in Buffalo

    Hundreds came to Buffalo to work at the Pan. There was some labor unrest among waiters, waitresses, and cooks. Soda water and ice cream climbed in price, as did other commodities, and inexpensive restaurants and lunch wagon sprang up surrounding the grounds, offering -- in the eyes of some commentators -- a taste of urban blight.

  • Cookbooks

    Companies produced brochures and pamphlets and trade cards for distribution at fairs and expositions. Some produced entire cookbooks showing how their products would contribute to hygienic, healthy, and tasty meals. The Enterprising Housekeeper, a company sponsored text, is reproduced in its entirety. The efficient use of leftovers, made possible by iceboxes and better packaging, was a large topic.

  • Food as a Cultural Experience

    The smells of many cuisines floated across the grounds. Actually effort was taken to direct the smells away from concentrations of people. While one could enjoy Mexican and German foods, as well as some Italian cooking, "American" food ruled the day. Foods such as macaroni and rice were "advertised" as American foods, not as Italian and Asian. Nationalism crept into food ads with assertions that the product was the best because it was American-made. Popcorn and peanuts were everywhere.

  • Food and Health

    Here are included appropriate excerpts from reports of the Exposition's medical director and newspaper reporter comments on individuals advocating various nutritional panaceas and food supplements. Yes, meat was seen as potentially dangerous even in 1901! But that doesn't mean it wasn't extremely popular -- and plentiful. In fact, meatpacking was the nation's most profitable industry.

  • Food Firsts and Technological Marvels

    Peanut vending machines may have been first introduced at the Exposition, a variety of new kitchen appliances were demonstrated, and instant coffee made its debut. Some things, such as the drinking fountain, although already in existence, served Exposition-goers well and, in so doing, received great advertising. By way of endorsement, national ads for some products actually mentioned their showing at the Exposition.