The delicious (?) snacks of 1923
A stroll through the archives from 100 years ago
Hello, Snackers. Crackers and kippers and aspic, oh my! It’s a sample platter of throwback snacks today.
Also, hi, there are quite a few more of you this week! I’m glad the pizza rolls post resonated with so many people, and special shout-out to Steve, who took the advice of the ad in that post and actually grilled some pizza rolls. I’ve added his photos at the end of this post.
[And apologies to paid subscribers, who are getting this twice—I meant to send it to the whole list the first time!]
I don’t have much time this week—kids on spring break, day job, working on a big new food history project (details soon!)—but I wanted to make sure you got some snacks in your inbox. So I went poking around the Newspapers.com archives to see what snacks I could find from 1923 and added some quick commentary and links for further reading. Think of this as a snack sampler platter rather than a full serving. Enjoy!
Brooklyn discovers snacking
What is this thing called a “snack,” anyway? The Brooklyn Daily Eagle has the scoop (read the whole article here).
Love’s Salty Wafers
Found in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. I think these are essentially Saltines, although I could be wrong. Crackers are one of the most timeless of all snacks, so I’m already sold, but there’s something especially alluring (if confusing) about the concept of a “bed-time lunch.”
I kinda love this headline from the Tallahassee Democrat. LET KIDS HAVE SNACKS.
The experts are right! Little tots and growing youngsters do require food more often than adults. The experience of parenting bears this out! (Source: I have two young kids. Snacks are essential.) So do the findings of present-day researchers! (Source: this New York Times article, to give one example.)
If you read the right-hand column in that clipping above, you’ll see that the experts of 1923 recommended a glass of milk, a biscuit, a bowl of bread and milk, or, best of all, gingerbread. My kids, being born in Modern Times, are far too sophisticated for those things and would prefer a lovely bowl of kale chips … just kidding, they would prefer a plate of nachos and a glass of chocolate milk (we usually try to steer them to an apple or some nuts or a piece of toast).
Ad from the Miami Herald.
I realize margarine is still widely available, but it’s not something I’ve purchased in … decades? Ever? And it feels, to me, like a product whose heyday was a generation ago, maybe earlier. It was around sometimes in my childhood in the 1980s, but not common—though that may be in part because I grew up in Minnesota, a state that hated margarine so much that the yellow version was illegal until 1963. It’s a whole weird, fascinating story.
Prawns in aspic
It’s 1923 and you’re a high-society woman in London who’s looking for a quick bite to eat—and a bit of lunchtime entertainment wouldn’t hurt, either. Head over to Corner House for “dainty savouries” and some serious rich-person vibes, including an orchestra (?!) and servers in the most fashionable uniforms around.
As it turns out those chicly attired servers at Lyons Corner House were a whole thing with a whole backstory. They were called “Nippies,” a terrible name apparently meant to signal that they moved—nipped—around the restaurant at a high speed.
Lobsters and crabs and kippers
I’m including this one, from the Saskatoon Daily Star, because apparently tinned fish are trendy again due to social media. From Time earlier this year: “Tinned Fish Could Be the Next Grocery Item to Run Out. Blame TikTok.”
I wrote about the history of kippers back in 2021:
At some point, kippered snacks crossed the Atlantic, becoming a fixture in American grocery stores (they’re all over newspaper ads of the early 1900s) and were a featured part of this care package you could send to the troops fighting overseas in 1944:
And now … Steve’s grilled pizza rolls
(Screenshotting it instead of embedding because the latter may not be working right now due to the extreme pettiness of a man named Elon. Here’s Steve’s original tweet, if you want to see it in context!)
If anyone else tries grilling your own pizza rolls, I’d love to hear about it! Pizza roll pics and any other snack tips or comments always welcome—contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter @douglasmack.