Fact Bites: July 4th Meals (BLOG)

American as hot dogs and hamburgers on July. [Flickr CC via @2Sh4rp_i]
All-American. [Flickr CC via @2Sh4rp_i]
Independence Day celebrations were not always a backyard BBQ of hot dogs and hamburgers. Turtle soup anyone? Here is a look at Fourth of July meals throughout history:

1.) Founding Fathers celebrated the first Independence Day in 1777 at the City Tavern in Philadelphia, their favorite Saturday night hangout. The menu, most likely based on July recipes in British cook Hannah Glasse’s book, “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy,” would include: fricasseed rabbit, pigeon, crawfish, tongue and turnips and lamb testicles, followed by apricot tarts and sweets. Of course the meal was washed down with copious amounts of alcohol. [Providence]

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City Tavern still dishes up authentic colonial meals in Old City Philadelphia. [Photo via City Tavern Facebook]
2.) Fireworks lit up celebrations from the first year (1777), with Philly food stalls serving spectators cornmeal fried oysters, pepper pot (beef tripe) stew, or tripe. Colonists could pop into a pub for turtle soup, the stylish dish that John and Abigail Adams and many other Americans enjoyed on July 4. [Providence]

Sorry, buddy. [Flickr CC via @tarotastic)
Sorry, buddy. [Flickr CC via @tarotastic)
3.) British naval officer and writer Frederick Marryat described pigging out in New York for Independence Day in the 1830s: “Small plates of oysters, with a fork stuck in the board opposite to each plate; clams sweltering in the hot sun; pine-apples, boiled hams, pies, puddings, barley sugar, and many other indescribables. But what was most remarkable, Broadway being three miles long, and the booths filling each side of it, in every booth there was a roast pig, large or small, as the centre attraction. Six miles of roast pig, and that in New York along; and roast pig in every other city, town, hamlet, and village, in the Union. What association can there be between roast pig and independence?” [NYC Food Biography]

Fourth of July Scene, 1819, painted by John Lewis Krimmel
Fourth of July Scene, 1819 Philadelphia, painted by John Lewis Krimmel

4.) Hotdogs and hamburgers probably became more common as Fourth of July foods in the 1950s. Returning WWII veterans moved to the suburbs seeking the good life and popularized backyard BBQs.

Family Cookout (via Pinterest)
Family Cookout (via Pinterest)

5.) Today, 80% of Americans attend a BBQ on Independence Day and the nation eat 150 million hot dogs – long enough to reach from DC to LA five times. [History Channel]

Hungry for Hot Dogs (Flickr CC via @IanAberle)
Hungry for Hot Dogs (Flickr CC via @IanAberle)

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