Pumpkin spice lattes, honey baked hams, and apple pies – oh my! Here comes fall with the crunchy leaves, the shorter days, and the Monster Mash. Is it any wonder that we suddenly crave comfort food and prefer nights in? Don’t worry, we’re all in the same fun size candy-filled boat. In our first post to kick off #AutumnOfAwesome we’re going to investigate five of America’s favorite comfort foods, specifically where and when they were invented and, of course, where you can travel to celebrate them. Let’s dig in.
Amelia Simmons: The Godmother of American Cooking
You’ve probably never heard of Amelia Simmons, but all of us are familiar with the foods she revolutionized like pumpkin pie and birthday cake. In the late 18th century, Amelia documented a variety of foods that had been adopted by American culture in her book American Cookery. She was the first to suggest cranberries served with turkey as well as coining the word “cookey”, today spelled “cookie.” Amelia is revered as a sort of Shakespeare of American cuisine; without her, we may never have had Julia Child, Anthony Bourdain, or even Guy Fieri!
#5 Pumpkin Pie
Holiday: National Pumpkin Spice Day 10.01
Pumpkins and pumpkin pie are older than America itself. Pre-Columbian native communities grew pumpkins for their flesh, and pumpkins were among the first crops grown in North America. The first forms of the delicious dessert date back to the 17th century, when it was made by mixing the pumpkin guts, milk, honey, and some spices and heating the mash inside the hollowed-out pumpkin. In 1705, the town of Colchester, Massachusetts literally voted to postpone Thanksgiving by a week, because they hadn’t received an ingredient necessary to make pumpkin pie for the holiday. Then in 1796, our champion of American cuisine, Amelia Simmons, published her updated recipe for pumpkin pie in American Cookery, which is the basic recipe we use today!
Pumpkin Pie Event: On Oct 16-19, 2019, the annual Pumpkin Show will be held in Circleville, Ohio. The schedule includes a giant pumpkin pie auction and pumpkin pie eating contests.
Origin: Ovid’s Tristia around 20 BCE – 18 CE
American Intro: Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery, 1796
Holiday: National Chocolate Cupcake Day 10.18
Cake has a very long history. The first documentation of cake in literature was around 20 BCE – 18 CE when Ovid mentioned, in his Tristia, that cake was included at his birthday. The cake at Ovid’s bday bash was a bit thicker and flatter than the birthday cake we’re used to today. That’s because cakes didn’t include baking soda until the publication of American Cookery. Once again, Amelia Simmons is credited with the twist of adding baking soda to cake, which led to cupcakes, and eventually Cake Boss!
Cake Event: Join professional bakers and cakers as well as sugar enthusiasts and hobby bakers for The Ultimate Sugar Show, Nov 7-10, 2019 in Atlanta, GA. Attendees can shop, enjoy tasty treats, partake in classes, and compete in various baking competitions.
Origin: First documentation in Yemen, 15th century
American Intro: 18th century (from England)
Holiday: International Coffee Day 10.01
The coffee bean has roots that date back to the 15th century in Yemen. In 1554, there were a number of coffee houses in Syria and Istanbul during the Ottoman Empire, as well as several close to the famous Al-Azhar University. Fast forward to 1773, when American patriots made history by rejecting British tea tariffs and dumping boatloads of tea into the Boston harbor. But, how would they get their hot, caffeinated beverage fix? Coffee, of course! Coffee became an overnight sensation throughout the colonies and has now grown into a multi-billion dollar a year market in America alone.
Coffee Event: The Los Angeles Coffee Festival is coming up Nov 8-10, 2019. It is a flagship coffee event, celebrating the burgeoning specialty coffee scene, as well as food, music and art.
Origin: Bologna, IT (1376)
American Intro: Late 18th century (from Germany)
Holiday: National Bologna Day 10.24
Baloney gets a bad wrap. We put it in starchy white bread with plastic-wrapped cheeses. We sell it as a cheap processed meat. We don’t even pronounce it right – it’s bologna! Pronounced “bowl-own-yah,” ask Italy. First created in Bologna, Italy, Mortadella (a tasty cousin of bologna) was mentioned in a government document from 1376! From then, bologna spread like wildfire across Europe, including Germany. In the late 18th century, Germans started migrating to America, specifically Pennsylvania, where they brought their favorite lunch meat, and the rest is history!
Bologna Event: Yale, Michigan is home to C. Roy, Inc., makers of Yale Bologna. Each year, the town hosts the Yale Bologna Festival during the last weekend of July, offering family fun for all ages.
Origin: Switzerland (during Bronze Age)
American Intro: Early 17th century (from Scotland)
Holiday: National Oatmeal Day 10.29
Oatmeal is such a popular breakfast food in America. Some like their oatmeal with cinnamon and brown sugar. Others like theirs with fruit like raisins and bananas. What’s truly bananas about America’s favorite breakfast porridge is that it dates back to the Bronze Age in what is present-day Switzerland! Archeologists found the first cultivated forms of oats in Swiss caves that date back to sometime between 3000-1200 BCE. Over time, oats became popular across Europe. When Scottish families came to America, starting in the 17th century, they brought oatmeal along with them!
Oatmeal Event: Designed to spoof the many chili cook-offs that occur in its host state, the Oatmeal Festival was founded in Texas in 1978 to celebrate the rural community of Oatmeal. Check it out next Labor Day weekend.
Savor quintessential American foods at a classic holiday celebration.
We’ve teased you with individual celebrations of these American food favorites, but, if an all-encompassing event featuring history and quintessential American fare is more your speed, we suggest a trip to America’s Hometown Thanksgiving. Held in Plymouth, Massachusetts the weekend before Thanksgiving (Novermber 22-24, 2019), it features a living history museum, parade, and concert, in addition to a wonderful food and beverage selection.