Food Facts
A Little Bit o' Fun Food Facts

Are You Savvy to These Bits of Food Trivia?

Caesar Salad - Was originally called the Aviator Salad.  It was not named for any of the Roman Caesars but rather invented by a Alex Cardini at his brother’s restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico.  He named the salad Aviator since the restaurant was near an airfield.  But later the name was changed to honor his brother.

Eggs Benedict - is named for Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, a wealthy woman who frequented Delmonico’s restaurant in New York City.  One day she complained that there was nothing new on the menu, so the chief came up with the new dish and named it for the woman who inspired it.

Lobster Newburg - was originally named ‘Lobster a’ la Wenberg’ after the salty old sea captain  Ben Wenberg, who first prepared the dish.  But after Ben was involved in a brawl in the restaurant, the owner changed the name to Newburg.

Melba Toast - is named for Dame Nellie Melba, a famous opera singer who loved the burnt toast.

Salisbury Steak - Dr. James Salisburn was a British doctor who became well known as a health expert.  He preached that eating well-cooked ground beef three times a day would cure tuberculosis, hardening of the arteries, gout, colitis, asthma and other ills.  His specially prepared meat became known as Salisbury steak.

Nutmeg - Although Connecticut is known as the Nutmeg state, there is no nutmeg grown or processed in Connecticut!  Years ago, unscrupulous traders from Connecticut made counterfeit nutmegs out of wood and sold them as the real thing.  Thus, the state earned its nickname.

Sardines - Ever see a Sardine in the water?  And you never will!  Sardines are not Sardines until they are packed.  Any one of twenty different species might end up as a canned sardine.  The most common are young herring and pilchard.  The name comes from the island of Sardinia, where sardines were first canned in 1834.

Hush Puppies - the little fried cakes of corn meal got their name the logical way.  One evening, a group of southern hunters were frying catfish over the campfire.  The hounds were hungry and when they smelled the catfish cooking, they began to whimper and beg.  One of the hunters rolled up some balls of the cornmeal that they were using to bread the catfish and dropped it in the hot grease.  When golden brown, he threw it to the dogs and said “hush puppies!”

Hors d’ Oeuvre - This French phrase literally means ‘outside the main work.’  It was originally used by architects.  It referred to an outbuilding - a building not included in the architect’s primary design.  Chefs borrowed the term to label food not usually served with dinner. 

Lollipop - comes from the old English term for tongue ‘lolly’ and the sound the tongue made when eating or sucking on the candy on a stick.

Po Boy, Hoagie, Submarine - many names, same sandwich.  During a streetcar workers strike in New Orleans in 1929, a sandwich shop called Martin Brothers offered free food to any poor-boy, or union member.  After the strike was settled, the shop posted a sign that read, “Originators of the Poor Boy Sandwiches.”

Selling Like Hotcakes - in the early 1600's hotcakes (pancakes)  were sold at fairs, carnivals and other festive events.  They became the bestselling snack at these celebrations.  By the nineteenth century, the term had come into general use in the language and any popular purchase was said to be selling like hotcakes.

•    In Joliet, Illinois, it is against the law to put cake in a cookie jar.

•    Banana peels can’t be tossed on the street in Waco, Texas.

•    It’s against the law to sell bologna on Sunday in Memphis, Tennessee.

•    In California, it is illegal to peel an orange in a hotel room.

•    Give your sweetheart a box of candy weighing less than 50 pounds in Idaho and you could get a fine.

•    In Massachusetts, it is illegal to put tomatoes in clam chowder.

•    In Gary, Indiana, it is against the law to ride a bus or attend a theater within four hours after eating garlic.

•    Don’t share your hamburger in Oklahoma, you could go to jail.

•    In Greene, New York, it is illegal to eat peanuts and walk backward on the side walk while a concert is playing.  (Try to figure that one out!)