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]

To Avoid Grocery Shopping, Quarantined Americans Are Reviving Wartime-Era Victory Gardens

Zbynek Pospisil/iStock via Getty Images
Zbynek Pospisil/iStock via Getty Images

For many people practicing social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the supermarket is the one place where it's practically impossible to avoid crowds. When they do brave the stores, shoppers may struggle to find what they're looking for, with panic buyers clearing shelves of everything from pasta to produce. Though the circumstances are different, citizens across the country are responding to the novel coronavirus outbreak by reviving a trend from the First and Second World Wars. As The New York Times reports, victory gardens are making a comeback.

Victory gardens started in 1917 as a way to supplement the commercial farming disrupted by World War I. As farmers became soldiers and farms became battlefields in Europe, the U.S. agricultural industry suddenly found itself responsible for feeding its own citizens as well as its allies abroad. Encouraging people to plant crops in any available space they could find—including rooftops, parks, backyards, empty lots, and fire escapes—was a way to lighten the burden.

The U.S. government formed the National War Garden Commission weeks before joining the war. Over the next couple of years, pamphlets were distributed to citizens showing them which seeds to plant and how to protect them from pests and diseases. One booklet read “The War Garden of 1918 must become the Victory Garden of 1919.”

Thanks to the effort, 3 million new gardens were cultivated in America in 1917 and 5.2 million appeared in 1918. The initiative resurfaced during World War II, and again, it was a huge success. At its peak, home and community gardens were producing nearly 40 percent of all fresh vegetables in the country.

For more than 70 years, victory gardens only existed as a footnote in history books, but now, they're seeing a resurgence. The U.S. isn't at war, and as of now there's no risk of the country running out of food, but the chaos and fear surrounding trips to the grocery stores are inspiring many people to turn to their own backyards. As many industries are struggling, seed companies are seeing a spike in business. Organizations dedicated to gardening are also seeing the trends. Soul Fire Farm in upstate New York normally builds about 10 community gardens outside homes, schools, and churches a year. But since the start of the novel coronavirus crisis, they've received 50 requests for community gardens.

A home garden is only useful in times of national hardship if it actually produces something. If you're interested in building a sustainable home garden and limiting your trips to the supermarket, here are some easy plants to start with and gardening mistakes to avoid.

[h/t The New York Times]

America’s 10 Most Hated Easter Candies

Peeps are all out of cluck when it comes to confectionery popularity contests.
Peeps are all out of cluck when it comes to confectionery popularity contests.
William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Whether you celebrate Easter as a religious holiday or not, it’s an opportune time to welcome the sunny, flora-filled season of spring with a basket or two of your favorite candy. And when it comes to deciding which Easter-themed confections belong in that basket, people have pretty strong opinions.

This year, CandyStore.com surveyed more than 19,000 customers to find out which sugary treats are widely considered the worst. If you’re a traditionalist, this may come as a shock: Cadbury Creme Eggs, Peeps, and solid chocolate bunnies are the top three on the list, and generic jelly beans landed in the ninth spot. While Peeps have long been polarizing, it’s a little surprising that the other three classics have so few supporters. Based on some comments left by participants, it seems like people are just really particular about the distinctions between certain types of candy.

Generic jelly beans, for example, were deemed old and bland, but people adore gourmet jelly beans, which were the fifth most popular Easter candy. Similarly, people thought Cadbury Creme Eggs were messy and low-quality, while Cadbury Mini Eggs—which topped the list of best candies—were considered inexplicably delicious and even “addictive.” And many candy lovers prefer hollow chocolate bunnies to solid ones, which people explained were simply “too much.” One participant even likened solid bunnies to bricks.

candystore.com's worst easter candies
The pretty pastel shades of bunny corn don't seem to be fooling the large contingent of candy corn haters.
CandyStore.com

If there’s one undeniable takeaway from the list of worst candies, it’s that a large portion of the population isn’t keen on chewy marshmallow treats in general. The eighth spot went to Hot Tamales Peeps, and Brach’s Marshmallow Chicks & Rabbits—which one person christened “the zombie bunny catacomb statue candy”—sits at number six.

Take a look at the full list below, and read more enlightening (and entertaining) survey comments here.

  1. Cadbury Creme Eggs
  1. Peeps
  1. Solid chocolate bunnies
  1. Bunny Corn
  1. Marshmallow Chicks & Rabbits
  1. Chocolate crosses
  1. Twix Eggs
  1. Hot Tamales Peeps
  1. Generic jelly beans
  1. Fluffy Stuff Cotton Tails

[h/t CandyStore.com]

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