The All-American History Behind the All-You-Can-Eat Buffet


It’s difficult to say when exactly people began assembling meals from large spreads of food. But that oh-so-American tradition of offering it all together at a low-low price? That started in Vegas, naturally.

First, a helping of history: Sweden and France were the first countries to formalize the buffet concept. The Swedish smorgasbord originated as a way to feed hungry out-of-town visitors who’d pop in unexpectedly. Starting with just bread and butter—the term translates as “buttered bread board”—the smorgasbord display grew to include several sequential courses, beginning with salted fish, eggs and boiled vegetables, then moving on to cold cuts, warm entrees and salads, and ending finally with dessert and coffee. The French offered a more refined model, filling their lavish “buffet” tables as a sign of prominence, and as a way to focus on entertaining rather than cooking. In 1939, the Swedes brought the smorgasbord to America at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, offering a sizable selection atop a rotating platform inside the Three Crowns restaurant. The Swedish creation would go on to inspire buffet-style restaurants in the ‘50s, albeit ones that were less structured than the Nordic model (also: way less pickled herring).

The man credited with creating the first all-you-can-eat buffet, though, didn’t have the smorgasbord in mind. He was just trying to keep his gambling customers happy. Born in Alberta, Canada in 1919, Herb McDonald made his way south to Las Vegas, where he worked as a publicist at one of the first hotels on the Strip: the El Rancho Vegas. The story goes that late one night in the mid 1940s, he wandered back into the kitchen, brought out some cold cuts, cheese and bread, and spread them out along the bar for hungry customers. The late-night selection was a hit, and McDonald eventually evolved the menu into a 24-hour all-you-can-eat “Buckaroo Buffet.” For just $1, people could choose from a selection of cold cuts, salad, and seafood—“every possible variety of hot and cold entrees to appease the howling coyote in your innards,” according to a flyer.

El Rancho lost money on its Buckaroo Buffet, but gained it back by promoting customer loyalty and roping in new patrons. Pretty soon, other establishments along the Strip were copying the idea, until nearly every hotel had their own version of the “midnight buffet.” These all-hours establishments are still a big draw throughout Vegas, and they range from the dirt-cheap to the incredibly lavish. In addition to revolutionizing the Sin City dining landscape, Herb McDonald’s creation, together with the smorgasbord trend, spawned a buffet bonanza across the U.S., with restaurants like Sizzler, Hometown Buffet, Golden Corral and numerous others modeled after the concept.

So if you’re ever in Vegas helping yourself to one of the now-ubiquitous hotel buffets after a long date with a slot machine, just think: You're stuffing yourself at the original American buffet.

Here's the Right Way to Pronounce Kitchenware Brand Le Creuset

If you were never quite sure how to pronounce the name of beloved French kitchenware brand Le Creuset, don't fret: For the longest time, southern chef, author, and PBS personality Vivian Howard wasn't sure either.

In this video from Le Creuset, shared by Food & Wine, Howard prepares to sear some meat in her bright orange Le Creuset pot and explains, "For the longest time I had such a crush on them but I could never verbalize it because I didn’t know how to say it and I was so afraid of sounding like a big old redneck." Listen closely as she demonstrates the official, Le Creuset-endorsed pronunciation at 0:51.

Le Creuset is known for its colorful, cast-iron cookware, which is revered by pro chefs and home cooks everywhere. The company first introduced their durable pots to the world in 1925. Especially popular are their Dutch ovens, which are thick cast-iron pots that have been around since the 18th century and are used for slow-cooking dishes like roasts, stews, and casseroles.

[h/t Food & Wine]

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Amazon Will Now Deliver Whole Foods Groceries To Your Door

Since its acquisition of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in 2017, Amazon has slowly been ramping up synergy between the two brands. An Amazon Go concept convenience store in Seattle allows customers to enter, scan their cell phone, and walk out with groceries without having to stand in line; select Amazon products, like their Echo devices, have made their way onto retail shelves.

Now, consumers in Austin, Dallas, Cincinnati, and Virginia Beach can use their status as an Amazon Prime customer to get free home delivery of their Whole Foods groceries. Beginning Thursday, February 8, the market will drop off orders within two hours. (One-hour delivery carries a $7.99 charge.)

“We're happy to bring our customers the convenience of free two-hour delivery through Prime Now and access to thousands of natural and organic groceries and locally sourced favorites,” Whole Foods Market co-founder and CEO John Mackey said in a statement. “Together, we have already lowered prices on many items, and this offering makes Prime customers’ lives even easier.”

Most everything in the store is eligible for delivery, though we’re not certain they’d deliver a live lobster. “Select” alcohol is also available. You can visit to see if you’re in their delivery region. Keep checking, as they plan to expand throughout 2018.

If you’re not near a Whole Foods at all, other regional grocery chains like Wegman’s also offer home delivery on a subscription-based pricing structure.

[h/t The Verge]


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