Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Although canned foods were commercially available in America as early as the 1820s, for many years canned foods were considered tasteless at best, and potentially hazardous at worst. Cooks who did use canned foods were often criticized as being lazy. By the 1930s, however, that reputation had completely reversed, as canning technology improved and efficiency and economy were prized. Cheaper canned goods brought expensive foods such as pineapple within the reach of ordinary Americans. The Good Housekeeping Institute promoted canned foods in quick dishes to make for company, such as in this 1933 recipe for pineapple upside down cake.

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Will Rogers’ Chili and Beans

Will Rogers, the “cowboy philosopher,” was a man of many talents: actor, cowboy, newspaper columnist, and humorist. After settling his family on a ranch in California, he also became a beloved local figure in Beverly Hills; in 1926, he was briefly declared the honorary mayor. Naturally, when the Beverly Hills Woman’s Club produced a community cookbook, they asked him to contribute an introduction. He did – along with two recipes of his own.

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Cider Punch

This punch recipe comes from Henrietta Nesbitt’s The Presidential Cookbook: Feeding the Roosevelts and Their Guests. Mrs. Nesbitt served as Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s housekeeper in the White House for 13 years. She writes in her chapter on teas and punches that two hundred guests would be considered a small tea party for Eleanor Roosevelt – many White House teas would include over a thousand guests. “When the guest list reaches the thousand mark…the only solution is fruit punch, and plenty of it.”

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William Randolph Hearst’s Welsh Rarebit

The confusingly-named Welsh rarebit or Welsh rabbit contains no rabbit whatsoever and may not have originated in Wales. It usually consists of cheese melted and poured over toast, although there are many variations in the other toppings. The first recorded use of the term “Welsh rabbit” dates back to 1725, but similar toasted cheese dishes were popular as early as the 14th century. Lexicographer John Ayto suggests that the name “Welsh rabbit” came about in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries, when calling something “Welsh” was a derogatory epithet meaning “inferior” or “of poor quality.” Thus, the name “Welsh rabbit” was a joke – “Welsh rabbit” was inferior because the dish did not actually contain any rabbits.

Alternatively, the dish might have been attributed to the Welsh simply because they had a reputation for loving cheese.

Despite the debates over its name and origins, Welsh rabbit or rarebit remained popular for centuries.  This particular recipe comes from 20th century media mogul William Randolph Hearst, who was passionately fond of Welsh rarebit.  Various family members, friends, and guests of Hearst’s recalled that he frequently served Welsh rarebit as a late-night snack.  Although he employed a large kitchen staff, he took great pride in always making the Welsh rarebit himself.

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