The Mysterious Origins of Thousand Island Dressing

The common salad dressing has a contentious origin story.
The common salad dressing has a contentious origin story.
Rena-Marie, iStock via Getty Images

It's on your salads, your Reuben sandwiches, and almost definitely on your Big Macs. Consisting of mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, and seasonings, Thousand Island is one of the classic salad dressings, but there's a lot of confusion over who lays claim to the recipe.

The one aspect of the condiment's origin story that remains consistent throughout various tellings is that it comes from the Thousand Islands region of Upstate New York. This archipelago, actually made up of more than 1800 islands, sits in the St. Lawrence River between Canada and New York.

Food & Wine reports that the area was a popular destination for upper-class members of society in the early 20th century. One of the wealthy individuals who owned property there was George Boldt, proprietor of the historic Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

According to one legend, Thousand Island dressing was first prepared on Boldt's yacht during a trip down the St. Lawrence River. Boldt was having a castle built on a heart-shaped island as a gift for his lover, Louisa, and the couple would regularly take trips to the Thousand Islands to check on the construction. During one voyage, the yacht's chef, Oscar Tschirky, was preparing a meal when he realized he didn't have dressing for the salad. Thinking on his feet, he mixed together what he could find in the galley—mayonnaise, ketchup, pickle relish, and Worcestershire sauce—and Thousand Island dressing was born.

There's also a second, less romantic theory explaining the dressing's inception. This story attributes the recipe to Sophia Lalonde, an innkeeper and the wife of a fishing guide in Clayton, New York, near the Thousand Islands. Sophia would make food for the tourists her husband took on fishing trips, serving her special dressing with the salads and sandwiches. Silent movie actress May Irwin reportedly tasted the condiment on a vacation to the area and liked it enough to ask for the recipe. Both legends end with Thousand Island dressing ending up on the menu of the Waldorf-Astoria—by way of George Boldt himself in the first one and by way of May Irwin passing it onto Boldt, whom she was friends with, in the latter.

The Waldorf Astoria has made many contributions to salad history. For the hotel's opening in 1893, maître d’ Oscar Tschirky—the same chef credited with concocting Thousand Island dressing on Boldt's yacht—made the first Waldorf salad by combining apple, celery, walnut, and mayonnaise.

[h/t Food & Wine]

Wayfair’s Fourth of July Clearance Sale Takes Up to 60 Percent Off Grills and Outdoor Furniture


This Fourth of July, Wayfair is making sure you can turn your backyard into an oasis while keeping your bank account intact with a clearance sale that features savings of up to 60 percent on essentials like chairs, hammocks, games, and grills. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Outdoor Furniture

Brisbane bench from Wayfair

- Jericho 9-Foot Market Umbrella $92 (Save 15 percent)
- Woodstock Patio Chairs (Set of Two) $310 (Save 54 percent)
- Brisbane Wooden Storage Bench $243 (Save 62 percent)
- Kordell Nine-Piece Rattan Sectional Seating Group with Cushions $1800 (Save 27 percent)
- Nelsonville 12-Piece Multiple Chairs Seating Group $1860 (Save 56 percent)
- Collingswood Three-Piece Seating Group with Cushions $410 (Save 33 percent)

Grills and Accessories

Dyna-Glo electric smoker.

- Spirit® II E-310 Gas Grill $479 (Save 17 percent)
- Portable Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill $104 (Save 20 percent)
- Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker $224 (Save 25 percent)
- Cuisinart Grilling Tool Set $38 (Save 5 percent)

Outdoor games

American flag cornhole game.

- American Flag Cornhole Board $57 (Save 19 percent)
- Giant Four in a Row Game $30 (Save 6 percent)
- Giant Jenga Game $119 (Save 30 percent)

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Wax Paper vs. Parchment Paper: What’s the Difference for Cooking?

Wax paper is great for keeping your counter space clean (as seen above).
Wax paper is great for keeping your counter space clean (as seen above).

When it comes to kitchen accessories, there are utensils like ladles and spatulas, bakeware like cupcake pans, and then covers and wraps like aluminum foil and plastic bags. But one kitchen item can result in some confusion—paper. Specifically, wax paper versus parchment paper. Despite similar appearances, they're not the same. What’s the difference between the two?

It’s pretty simple. Parchment paper tolerates heat and wax paper does not. Parchment paper is a sturdy, kitchen-specific item made with silicone that resists both grease and moisture. It’s perfect for cake molds or for wrapping fish. (So long as you don’t reuse it for those tasks.) You can safely use parchment paper in an oven.

Wax paper also has a non-stick surface, but it’s not intended for use around any kind of heat source. The wax on the paper could melt. It’s better to use it to cover countertops to make clean-up easier. You can also use it to roll out dough or pound chicken breasts into submission.

Though parchment paper is typically more expensive, it’s far more versatile. You should opt for wax paper only if you plan on making a mess and want to discard it easily. But don’t get the two mixed up, as wax paper near heat could require another kitchen accessory: a fire extinguisher.