By Maison Benz
January 23, 2020
Three weeks into January is National Pie Day. Need an excuse to indulge since you’ve been so good with your diet resolutions? Yeah, we thought so. You’re in luck! National Pie Day, brought to you by the American Pie Council, is on January 23 and a wonderful reminder of America’s pie heritage and expression of the country’s love affair with pies. (I can taste the chocolate cream already!)
By: Jacob Riscili
November 21, 2019
Today is National Gingerbread day. No confection symbolizes the holidays quite like gingerbread in its many forms, from edible houses to candy-studded gingerbread men to spiced loaves of cake-like bread. In Medieval England, the term gingerbread simply meant ‘preserved ginger’ and wasn’t applied to the desserts we are familiar with until the 15th century. The term is now broadly used to describe any type of sweet treat that combines ginger with honey, treacle or molasses. Ginger root was first cultivated in ancient China, where it was commonly used as a medical treatment. From there it spread to Europe via the Silk Road. During the Middle Ages it was favored as a spice for its ability to disguise the taste of preserved meats. Henry VIII is said to have used a ginger concoction in hopes of building a resistance to the plague. Even today we use ginger as an effective remedy for nausea and other stomach ailments. In Sanskrit the root was known as srigavera, which translates to ‘root shaped like a horn’ – a fitting name for ginger’s unusual appearance.
November 12, 2019
Today is National Pizza with the Works Except Anchovies day. In other words, it is Creative Pizza day excluding anchovies. Pizza With The Works Except Anchovies Day came into existence from pure common sense. There’s a lot of people out there who will, foolishly and naively, choose to order their pizza with ‘the works’, never thinking for a moment that there’s a madman out there perfectly willing and capable of putting anchovies on a poor innocent pizza. The horror. Let’s ask one question first, though, where the heck did this crazy idea of putting anchovies on a pizza come from, to begin with? It certainly doesn’t seem like anything a sane person would do to their pizza, so where is patient zero for this insanity? Near as we can tell it came from the Ancient Romans who first offered up a fermented fish topping known as Garum for their flat-breads. They were offered as a kind of nostalgia back in the early days of pizza, and from there on they just kinda stuck around and never quite went away. Storing them is cheap, even though only about 50 out of every 18,000 customers actually order them on their pizzas.
October 28, 2019
October 24, 2019
Today is National Bologna day. Bologna is a lunchtime favorite for sandwich lovers across the country. Although this American sausage is spelled bologna, it is commonly pronounced “baloney.” In some parts of the country it is also referred to as “jumbo.” Bologna can be made with beef, pork, chicken, or turkey. It is cooked and smoked with a wonderful bouquet of spices that add to its delicious flavor. There are many different variations including German bologna and Kosher bologna. Did you know that Americans eat 800 million pounds of bologna annually? Add a slice or two to your sandwich today to celebrate National Bologna Day!
September 27, 2019
Today is National Chocolate Milk day. Most of us know that chocolate milk comes from brown cows but some people believe that chocolate milk was a man-made beverage. “According to the National History Museum in Britain”, chocolate milk was created in Jamaica by an Irish botanist named Sir Hans Sloane. While in Jamaica in the early 1700s, Sloane was given cocoa to drink, but he did not care for the taste. In an attempt to improve it, milk was added and chocolate milk was born – or at least according to the National History Museum in Britain. Cocoa has been around since the 1500s so it is possible a version of chocolate milk was invented before Sloane tried it out in Jamaica but history suggests Sloane carried the torch and brought chocolate milk to the masses.
September 26, 2019
Today is National Pancake day. Pancakes have been around for centuries as a favorite staple in many cultures’ diets. They began over 30,000 years ago during the Stone Age. Researchers have found pancakes in the stomach of Otzi the Iceman, human remains dating back 5,300 years. In ancient Greece and Rome, pancakes were made from wheat flour, olive oil, honey, and curdled milk. Ancient Greek poets, Cratinus and Magnes wrote about pancakes in their poetry. Shakespeare even mentions them in his famous plays. During the English Renaissance pancakes were flavored with spices, rosewater, sherry, and apples. The name “pancake” started during the 15th century but became standard in 19th century America. Previously, they were called Indian cakes, hoe cakes, johnnycakes, journey cakes, buckwheat cakes, buckwheats, griddle cakes, and flapjacks. Early American pancakes were made with buckwheat or cornmeal. Thomas Jefferson loved them so much he sent a special recipe to his home town from the White House
September 25, 2019
Today is National Food Service Workers day. Today, we salute the men and women who provide and make our food. Today, we salute our lunch ladies. So let’s take a moment to reflect on the nearly 15 million people who work in restaurants. From the dishwashers and waiters, to the chefs and the hosts, a restaurant team depends on every member to function. Chefs may get the most attention, but ask any chef who the most important team member is and he/she will usually say: the dishwasher. Without that valuable service, a kitchen devolves into chaos pretty quickly. Today we want to recognize and thank each of the people that participates in the complex dance that is restaurant work. We know them well, as a large part of our business is delivering products to fine restaurants across the country. Every day of the week, our trucks are out at dawn to deliver the ingredients that chefs need for service that afternoon and evening.
September 24, 2019
Today is National Cherries Jubilee day. Cherries Jubilee was created by Auguste Escoffier, the prominent French chef and writer who, as the first prominent chef to cook for the public rather than in private homes, took restaurant fare to new heights. After spending the first half of his career in Paris and Lucerne, he relocated to London to take charge of the Savoy Hotel kitchen. Among his innovations was offering items a la carte, reorganizing the professional kitchen for maximum efficiency, and argued that kitchen workers should receive medical benefits and pensions. His major work, Le Guide Culinaire, published in 1903, is still consulted by chefs today. Cherries Jubilee became wildly popular in fancy restaurants and hit its peak in the 1950s and ‘60s, and adventurous home cooks wowed their friends by making it the spectacular finish for dinner parties. By the end of the 1960s, the dish had become over-exposed and something of a cliché, and fell out of favor.
September 23, 2019
Today is National White Chocolate day. When most people think of chocolate, they think of the rich brown sultry color of milk or dark chocolate. But during the process of making chocolate, there’s a point when two magical options are available, the rich dark chestnut of traditional chocolate, or the pure white angelic path that is the way of White Chocolate. White Chocolate Day is the perfect opportunity to learn about the origins of this delicious treat, and take a walk on the light side of culinary decadence. Despite its long history, for many years the confection we know as “white chocolate” was not officially chocolate at all. White chocolate does not contain cocoa solids—one of the main ingredients in traditional chocolate. In 2004, ten years after chocolate manufacturers filed the first petition, the FDA finally relaxed its definition of “chocolate” and accepted white chocolate into the family. According to the regulations, true white chocolate must contain at least 20% cocoa butter, 14% total milk solids, 3.5% milk fat, and less than 63% sugar.
September 20, 2019
Today is National Punch day. Though it’s mainly known as a non-alcoholic beverage today, punch was invented as a beer alternative in the 17th century by men working the ships for the British East India Company. These men were accomplished drinkers, throwing back an allotment of 10 pints of beer per ship-man per day. But when the ships reached the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean, the beer held in cargo bays grew rancid and flat. Once the boats reached the shore, sailors created new drinks out of the ingredients indigenous to their destinations: rum, citrus and spices. The sailors brought punch back to Britain and soon the drink became a party staple, spreading even as far as the American colonies. Massive punch bowls were ubiquitous at gatherings in the summer months: the founding fathers drank 76 of them at the celebration following the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It’s around this time that the first mention of non-alcoholic punches appears.
September 19, 2019
Today is National Butterscotch Pudding day. Butterscotch is traced back to Doncaster, a town in Yorkshire, England, where the word was first recorded. It is often credited to Samuel Parkinson, a confectioner who began making it as a hard candy in 1817. Tins of the treat even had the royal seal of approval. There’s no clear origin to the confection’s name. Although the logic behind the ‘butter’ part of the name is obvious, the ‘scotch’ part is more mysterious. Some say it comes from the word scorched, since the sugar is heated to an extremely high temperature. Another theory links ‘scotch’ to its Scottish origins.
September 18, 2019
Today is National Cheeseburger day. In the 1926 Lionel Sternberger is reputed to have invented the cheeseburger. The experimenting 16 year old fry cook at The Rite Spot in Pasadena, California added American cheese to a sizzling hamburger. In 1928 O’Dell’s restaurant menu in Los Angeles listed a chili cheeseburger for 25 cents. Of course there are other claims. Kaelin’s Restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky, said it invented the cheeseburger in 1934. Louis Ballast of the Humpty Dumpty Drive-In in Denver, Colorado trademarked the cheeseburger in 1935, but Steak ‘n Shake claims its founder applied for that trademark in the 1930s also. The truth is, people all over the world probably “invented” the cheeseburger: fry cooks, stay-at-home moms, chefs, butchers,… the sandwich is so iconic that almost every restaurant has a version. It doesn’t really matter who invented the cheeseburger, I don’t care what the name on the restaurant is, all I care about is the taste and how I feel when I first bite in.
September 17, 2019
Today is National Apple Dumpling day. With fall fast approaching, this food holiday comes at the height of apple harvests. Peeled and cored apples are typically placed on a pastry. Then, cinnamon and sugar are sprinkled over the top. The dough is folded around the apple creating a dumpling and baked until tender. The flavor is similar to an apple pie. Apple dumplings are believed to be native to the northeastern United States, around Pennsylvania. Often found among the delicious Amish recipes, it is frequently eaten as a breakfast item. However, they are also regularly eaten as a dessert and sometimes served with ice cream. Not only do these pastry taste and smell like fall, but they look like it, too. First, the bright apples in their many colors come into our kitchens by the baskets and boxes full. Then we season them with warm-colored spices. Finally, when the pastry comes out of the oven filling a home with that delicious fragrance, it presents with a gorgeous golden crust.
September 16, 2019
Today is National Cinnamon Raisin Bread day. On September 16th, National Cinnamon Raisin Bread Day warms the home and the heart with delicious goodness. In bakeries across the country, we request cinnamon raisin bread more often than many others. Naturally sweet, the aroma created from baking this bread will make anyone’s mouth water. Cinnamon raisin bread toasts nicely and pairs well with several toppings. Homemade apple butter, cream cheese or sliced pears bring this baked good to a whole new level. Eat it for breakfast or snack. Another delicious way to use cinnamon raisin bread is by making French toast. Whisk up eggs, milk, vanilla and nutmeg in a bowl. Dip the bread in the batter and let it soak up the egg mixture. Fry each piece on a hot griddle. Serve with fresh fruit and maple syrup and your morning will start off amazingly! The same idea can be applied to an egg bake, too. When prepared ahead, egg bakes made with cinnamon raisin bread easily feed a large family or guests for the weekend.
September 13, 2019
Today is National Peanut Day. The peanut, while grown in tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world, is native to the Western Hemisphere. It probably originated in South America and spread throughout the New World as Spanish explorers discovered the peanut’s versatility. When the Spaniards returned to Europe, peanuts went with them. Later, traders were responsible for spreading peanuts to Asia and Africa. The peanut made its way back to North America on sailing ships carrying slaves in the 1700’s. Although there were some commercial peanut farms in the U.S. during the 1700’s and 1800’s, peanuts were not grown extensively. Also associated with the expansion of the peanut industry is the research conducted by George Washington Carver at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama at the turn of the twentieth century. The U.S. government instituted agricultural support programs in the early 1900’s to promote the production of important food crops, including peanuts. Today, the production of peanuts is overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the auspices of farm legislation adopted by the U.S. Congress in 2002.
September 12, 2019
Today is National Chocolate Milkshake day. Milkshakes were an alcoholic whiskey drink that has been described as a “…sturdy, healthful eggnog type of drink, with eggs, whiskey, etc., served as a tonic as well as a treat”. By 1900, the term milkshake referred to “wholesome drinks made with chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla syrups.” The milkshake made it into the mainstream when in 1922 a Walgreen’s employee in Chicago, Ivar “Pop” Coulson, took an old-fashioned malted milk (milk, chocolate, and malt) and added two scoops of ice cream, creating a drink which became popular at a surprising rate, soon becoming a high-demand drink for young adults around the country. Nowadays we are lucky that we can a good milkshake. Just like the smoothie there are a countless number of flavors when it comes to milkshakes.
September 11, 2019
Today is National Hot Cross Buns day. A traditional hot cross bun is a spiced, yeasted bun. It is traditionally made with raisins or currants and is marked with a cross on top. The cross is usually piped using a flour and water paste but can also be made from shortcrust pastry. For Christians, the cross represents the crucifixion of Jesus. The spices inside the buns symbolize the spices put on the body of Jesus after he died. The buns are best served hot, hence how they received their name. Butter is optional depending on personal tastes. There are many theories on the origin of the bun. One theory dates back to the 14th century when an Anglican monk baked the buns at St Albans Abbey and called them the ‘Alban Bun’. He then distributed them to the poor on Good Friday. They soon gained popularity around England and became a symbol of the Easter weekend.
September 10, 2019
Today is National Hot Dog day. The hot dog is the quintessential summer food: cheap, tasty, great for grills and forgiving of even the most inexperienced backyard cooks. But who made the first hot dog? Historians believe that its origins can be traced all the way back to era of the notorious Roman emperor Nero, whose cook, Gaius, may have linked the first sausages. In Roman times, it was customary to starve pigs for one week before the slaughter. Gaius was watching over his kitchen when he realized that one pig had been brought out fully roasted, but somehow not cleaned. He stuck a knife into the belly to see if the roast was edible, and out popped the intestines: empty because of the starvation diet, and puffed from the heat. He stuffed the intestines with ground game meats mixed with spices and wheat, and the sausage was created.
September 9, 2019
Today is National “I Love Food” day. When it comes to delicious food holidays, Sept. 9 takes the cake….and the ice cream….and the fries….and the juicy steak…..and the pasta! If you are a foodie – go grab your fork. It’s National I Love Food Day, an annual occasion that celebrates one of life’s most enjoyable pleasures – food! Whether you have a hankering for something sweet to eat, love to try new things, are a tried-and-true meat-and-potatoes kind of person, are a strict vegetarian or somewhere in-between, food is a large part of our everyday lives. Regardless of our culture or where we live, food is usually front-and-center at all sorts of gatherings – from family reunions, picnics, holiday celebrations and festive parties to bridal showers, weddings and funerals.
September 6, 2019
Today is National Coffee Ice Cream day. The cool and creamy result of our morning java in a refreshing dessert magnifies the celebration. While not everyone drinks coffee, some like the flavor in desserts. So this day may interest even those who don’t wake up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning. Besides, when caffeine finds its way into a frozen, creamy blend, it’s nearly irresistible. Coffee ice cream has been around for many years. In 1869, coffee ice cream was used in a parfait. One recipe appeared in a 1919 cookbook for an Egg Coffee, consisting of cream, crushed ice and coffee syrup. Although it’s true that vanilla is still the most popular ice cream, people love the deep flavor of coffee ice cream in the summer. Adding egg yolks yields a richer texture than Early American ice-cream recipes could produce. Use the best dark-roast beans you can find for superior flavor.
September 5, 2019
Today is National Cheese Pizza day. Where else but in Italy, where pizza is a classic Italian dish. The history begins in antiquity, when various ancient cultures produced basic flat-breads with several toppings. A precursor of pizza was probably the foccacia, a flat bread known to the Romans as panis focacius, to which toppings were then added. Modern pizza developed in Naples when tomato was added to the focaccia in the late 18th century. The word pizza was first documented in 997 A.D. in Gaeta and successively in different parts of Central and Southern Italy. Pizza was mainly eaten in Italy and by emigrants from there. This changed after World War II, when Allied troops stationed in Italy came to enjoy pizza along with other Italian foods. Pizza first made its appearance in the United States with the arrival of Italian immigrants in the late 19th century and was popular among large Italian populations in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Trenton and St. Louis. In the late 19th century, pizza was introduced by peddlers who walked up and down the streets with a metal washtub of pizzas on their heads, selling their pizzas at two cents a slice. It was not long until small cafes and groceries began offering pizzas to their Italian-American communities.
September 4, 2019
Today is National Macadamia Nut day. The nut originated in Australia where there first macadamia tree was planted. Macadamia nuts became popular for their sweet and rich flavor. They were most useful to “sugar barons” or people who owned sugar businesses, which helped Australia’s start of the sugar industry. Macadamia nuts then spread throughout the world from California to Africa, but once when the nuts reached Hawaii, that is when the industry took off. Ernest Van Tassel, an entrepreneur, began the Hawai’i Macadamia Nut Company, which planted the nuts commercially in 1921 and began processing the nuts in 1934. It wasn’t until the late-1940’s that some major players of Hawaii’s “Big Five” companies, who dominated Hawaii’s economy through sugar production, started to take notice of the macadamia nut game. In 1946, Castle & Cooke, renowned as owners of the Dole Pineapple Company, planted their first orchard, which would later produce the macadamia nuts of Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corp. Soon after, C. Brewer and Co. Ltd. began investing in macadamia orchards, and would later buy Castle & Cooke’s orchard in 1976, at which point they started marketing under the well-known Mauna Loa brand. Today, 90% of the world’s macadamia nuts are harvested in Hawaii.
September 3, 2019
Today is National Grilled Cheese day. The sandwich dates back to the early 1900s, where the French put cheese on top of bread. We’ve all heard the expression “This is the best thing since sliced bread.” In 1928, Otto Frederick Rohwedder invented a bread slicer that made distributing bread easy and affordable. Shortly before, in 1914, James L. Kraft, more commonly known to start Kraft Foods, came up with a revolutionary process that pasteurized cheese so it wouldn’t spoil. Throughout the 20th century, people added different ingredients to the grilled cheese: Ham, bacon, onions, tomatoes, and even a mixture of cheeses such as a five-cheese grilled cheese. The sandwich became more popular when it was served to soldiers in World War II as a quick meal. It was described as “American cheese filling sandwiches” which was usually served open-faced and consisted of one slice of bread topped with grated cheese. People then started coating the outside of the bread with butter and seared in on a griddle so the bread would become brown and crispy.
August 29, 2019
Today is National Chop Suey day. It is a form of American-Chinese cuisine. This dish consists of meat, whether that be chicken, pork, beef, or shrimp, eggs, and cooked along with bean sprouts, celery, and cabbage and finished with a starched sauce on top of fried rice. Chop Suey was widely believed to be invented in the United States by Chinese immigrants. The dish became more widespread throughout the country and some restaurants sprung up just because of the dish. One Chinese traveler, Liang Qichao, said the dish was being served by American-Chinese restaurateurs but was not eaten by the Native Chinese because the cooking technique was “really awful.” Nevertheless, it has gotten better. If cooked properly, the dish tastes wonderful and has become a prominent part of Chinese culture in American society.
August 28, 2019
Today is National Cherry Turnover day. A very common dish in American culture. Most people have never heard of turnovers; they are little pastries which are made by folding a piece of dough over the sweet or savory ingredient that is used and baked like a pie. In other words, they are pocket pies or pie sandwiches, very small and very easy to make yourself. The first recorded instance of a turnover was back in 1440. They were created as a response by bakers who, by law, could not make cakes. Instead, they created pies, one of those being the turnover. Since invented, they have never gone out of style and being enjoyed by millions everyday.