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Food

In the colonial and early Federal periods, Americans rarely ate away from home. Meals served in taverns, inns, hotels, and a few restaurants were mainly for travelers. Boarding house dining rooms primarily fed their guests. Eating out become more popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Before Prohibition many saloons offered free food with beverages. Early restaurants and dining rooms did not have menus, but sometimes posted food offerings at the entrance. By the mid 19th century menus started to appear.

  • 1850s and 1860s Hotel and Restaurant Menus. These mid nineteenth century menus located in the Hospitality Industry Archives, at the Hilton College of the University of Houston reveal a treasure trove of historical information. The menus relate not only the regional cuisine of the particular restaurant but also show some of the cultural and social norms of society. The menus are from hotel restaurants, stand alone restaurants and steamships. The selections cover not only Texas, but have menus from fine hotels and restaurants in New York, Washington, and other cities.

  • The Food Timeline. Ever wonder how the ancient Romans fed their armies? What the pioneers cooked along the Oregon Trail? Who invented the potato chip...and why? So do we!!! Food history presents a fascinating buffet of popular lore and contradictory facts. Some experts say it's impossible to express this topic in exact timeline format. They are correct. Most foods are not invented; they evolve.

  • International Guild of Hospitality & Restaurant Managers. The History of Food and ..?

  • Los Angeles Public Library Menu Collection. A database of menus from Los Angeles, other cities, steamships, airlines and banquets. Images of the actual menus are being added. The address and telephone number of the restaurant is given, plus the menu date, cuisine type, meal, and price range.

  • The Menu Collection of The New York Public Library. The database contains 26,000 records describing individual menus. Menus are available in the Rare Book Division.

  • University of Washington Libraries.  Historical Menu Collections, 1884-2003. Most of the restaurants are located in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Also included in the collection are travel-related menus from ships, railroads, and airplanes. Restaurants in all styles and classes of trade are represented, from lunch counters to first-class gourmet establishments. Menus, placemats, and other graphic materials from many of the Puget Sound area's most famous restaurants are in the collection. Some are illustrated with drawings and photographs.