WHAT DID THEY EAT ON JULY 4, 1776?

By June 29, 2017Blog

Happy Independence Day!

Our offices will close Friday, June 30th at 3:00 PM Pacific for the 4th of July holiday. We will reopen Wednesday, July 5th.

While preparing for this year’s summer holiday, it got us thinking. Holidays are often associated with food. For example, Thanksgiving has its turkey, gravy and stuffing. The 4th of July, itself, is associated with hot dogs, burgers and…fireworks.

But what were folks eating during the first Independence Day celebrations in 1777 around Boston and Philadelphia? (Even though the American Revolution did not end until 1783. Americans are an optimistic bunch.)

Well fortunately for us we have archaeologists at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. A few years ago they tackled this topic for us. And it turns out, that much of the food the first citizens of our nation gorged themselves on are not far from what we stuff in our mouths now.

According to legend, on July 4, 1776, John Adams and his wife, Abigail, sat down for a celebratory meal of turtle soup, New England poached salmon with egg sauce, green peas, and boiled new potatoes in jackets. They followed the meal with Indian pudding or Apple Pandowdy. (We say legend, because we know that the Adams were most likely in separate cities the summer of 1776.)

The Adams were affluent and this allegorical meal is a good example of New England fare of the day. Their working class counterparts most likely consumed the 18th century ancestors of hot dogs and hamburgers – pork and beef dishes. These staples of human civilization were brought to the Americas not by the English but by their colonial competitors – the Spanish. The meats were most likely served with the purely American potato and tomato.

So it seems our forefathers consumed a poetic mix of new and old world foods. How satisfying.

 

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