A lot of interesting social and food change happened in the 1920’s. For the first time, more people lived in cities than on farms, fueled by the Great Migration of African Americans from the south to the north, and economic potential. Prohibition added to the food story with speakeasys and blind pigs filling the void. My great-grandparents actually had a blind pig in Detroit. Do you know the difference between a speakeasy and a blind pig?
Women’s independence was strong throughout the 1920’s. A budding consumer culture brought flappers and fringe to those speakeasy’s, time-saving products to the kitchen, and of course, we finally got the vote. And you mark my word, we are going to get the presidency in the 2020’s.
Modern vegetarianism began in the 1920’s, with peanuts being promoted as an early alternative to animal protein. Sugar started its heyday with the introduction of all types of branded cookies and candies. French foods solidified a position as king cuisine for the well-healed, popularizing menu items such as caviar, tea sandwiches, creamed soups, soufflé, cured salmon, aspic molds, and lobster and mushroom toasts.
Here’s a list of foods introduced during the decade:
1920: La Choy Food Products, Eskimo Pies, Good Humor ice cream, Baby Ruth & Oh Henry! candy bars
1921: Wonder Bread, Betty Crocker (General Mills baking mixes), Land O'Lakes (brand butter), Sanka (freeze dried decaffeinated coffee), Chuckles (fruit jelly candies), White Castle (fast food chain), Quaker Oats quick oats
1922: Girl Scout Cookies, Gummi Bears, Mounds, Charleston Chew, Clark Bars (candy bars)
1923: Pet Milk (canned product), Welch's grape jelly, Popsicles, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
1924: Caesar Salad, Wheaties, Bit-O-Honey (candy bars), fruit-flavored Life Savers, Birdseye brand frozen foods
1925: Honey Maid Graham Crackers, Mr. Goodbar (candy bar)
1926: Good Humor (ice cream novelties), Safeway & IGA (supermarket chains), Milk Duds
1927: Lender's (bagels), Gerber's (baby food), Pez (breath mint/candies), Mike & Ike (coated fruit-gel candies), Kool-Aid, homogenized milk
1928: Rice Krispies, Velveeta cheese, Drum Sticks (ice cream cones), Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, Butterfingers & Heath bars
[1929: Gerber canned baby food, Columbo Yogurt, Oscar Meyer wieners, Snickers, Twizzlers, 7-Up
And here’s some things to look for moving forward, thanks to Smart Brief:
Plant-based finds its identity: With so many brands fearful that they’ll be left behind and rushing to adopt trends at an ever-faster pace, plant-based meats went from science fiction to the menu at Burger King in record time. After that initial rush, however, expect consumers and companies to grapple with what plant-based really means and how products should be positioned. Are plant-based burgers really healthier? Which categories will be disrupted next? (Look out chicken and seafood.)
Breakfast, brunch, brinner: All-day breakfast becomes the new normal, reinventing breakfast options like brunch burgers, tacos and salads.
New wave tea: The tea industry is poised to reach a broader market as consumers get more savvy. Dedicated tea cafes will create an upscale tea experience, with tea baristas who can explain origins and tastings notes, unique equipment to achieve the perfect steep, custom tea blends, and experiential options like matcha ceremonies.
Farms everywhere: While massive greenhouses and hydroponic and aquaponic farms continue to open, there’s a different revolution happening on the other end of the spectrum: the rise of micro-farming. Small, automated growing appliances are showing up in hospitals, colleges, restaurants and soon at home – imagine a small grow box built into the cabinets right next to the microwave. The company Farmshelf already has units in restaurants and is working on an at-home model, while Kroger announced this year it would add hydroponic farms the size of a freezer case to some stores.
New flavor & technique trends
Ajvar: From sriracha to gochujang to ajvar? Be on the look out for this pepper-based condiment from the Balkans used as a spread or dip.
Karaage: This Japanese frying technique (pronounce it kah-ra-ah-geh) is becoming a trendy prep method for chefs in the US. Try it with chicken for an on-trend chicken sandwich option.
Grains of paradise: Native to West Africa, this intriguingly named spice has a flavor all its own, with notes of black pepper, cardamom and citrus mixed with floral flavors. Try it on seafood, drinks or desserts.
Unripe produce: Chefs are starting to discover and get creative with the unique flavors and textures of unripe produce – think options like unripe mango, green strawberries or unripe avocado.
Urfa biber: Watch for this Turkish dried chili pepper, which has a smoky, almost raisinish taste, to start appearing on more menus and retail shelves.
Happy year of good flavor and fun!
A pix from my fathers childhood scrapbook