The Birthplaces of 9 Classic Salads


Salad isn't just a meal for dieters. For decades, variations have been dressed up with fruits, cheese, meats, and, in rare cases, whipped cream. In honor of National Salad Month, we’re serving up information on where and when your favorite salads were created.


Legend has it that this tasty blend was created by accident. In 1937, Robert H. Cobb (er, Bob Cobb), owner of L.A. eatery The Brown Derby, was scrounging around for a nighttime meal when he came upon an avocado. He chopped it up and threw in some romaine, watercress, tomatoes, chicken, hard-boiled egg, cheese, some leftover bacon and tossed with the Derby's famous French dressing. As the story goes, word spread of his delicious invention after he fed it to Hollywood promoter Sid Grauman, who fell in love at first bite. Soon it was added to the restaurant’s menu.



Two different Italian chefs are credited for creating this Parmesan cheese-laced favorite. Most historians point to Caesar Cardini, a San Diego-based cook who ran a restaurant just over the Mexican border in Tijuana to avoid the United States’ prohibition laws. Over a busy Fourth of July weekend in 1924, Cardini was running low on supplies, so he threw together a salad with the ingredients he could find in his kitchen: romaine lettuce, garlic, croutons, Parmesan cheese, boiled eggs, olive oil, and Worcestershire sauce. An unsubstantiated story in George Leonard Herter’s book, Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices, Volume II, however, credits a man named Giacomo Junia for making the dish. Herter claims that two decades before Cardini’s busy holiday weekend, Junia served the salad at his Chicago eatery, The New York Café.


Food historians trace the roots of this dish—a mix of julienned lettuce, meats, cheese and hard-boiled egg—to Salmagundi, a popular meat-and-veggie mix that originated in 17th century England. But they’re unclear on who created the first American Chef Salad. In his 1975 tome American Food: The Gastronomic Story, food historian Evan Jones speculates, “It may have been made first in the kitchen of the Ritz-Carlton where a recipe used by Louis Diat called for smoked ox tongues as one of the meats and watercress as the only green leaf.”


What’s certain about this so-called “King of Salads” (made with crab meat, avocado, tomatoes, and asparagus) is it debuted on the West Coast. Exactly when and where, however, is up for debate. Some say it was born at Seattle’s Olympic Club in 1904 when Metropolitan Opera Company tenor Enrico Caruso ordered the dish again and again until there was none left. But other theories abound. In her West Coast Cook Book, Helen Evans Brown asserts it was first served at San Francisco spot Solari’s in 1914. And representatives from The Davenport Hotel in Spokane, Washington insist it was their founder and owner, Louis Davenport, who invented the dish for the hotel’s restaurant.


A delicious combination of meats, cheese, minced sweet pickles, and a mayonnaise, mustard, and egg dressing, this meal was first dished out at the J.L. Hudson Department store in downtown Detroit. The 25-floor shop shuttered in 1983, but the salad lives on at the Lakeshore Grill inside Macy’s stores.



Waldorf Astoria Hotel maître d’ Oscar Michel Tschirky is credited for preparing the apple, celery, walnut, and mayonnaise mix for the NYC spot’s pre-opening fête in March of 1893. Later dubbed “Oscar of the Waldorf,” he continued working at the swanky establishment for another 50 years.


The first American gelatinous salad can be traced to 1904. Mrs. John E. Cook of New Castle, Pennsylvania entered a dish in a local contest that she called Perfection Salad—and walked away with third place. The recipe for the gelatin mold (which contained cabbage, celery, green pepper, and pimentos) became increasingly popular. By the 1960s the Jell-O-as-salad concept was so in fashion that the brand released vegetable flavors such as celery, Italian salad, and seasoned tomato.


Yet another invention dreamt up by the makers of Jell-O: The ingredients for the Watergate Salad were first printed on the sides of the brand’s pistachio pudding mix in the mid-'80s. At the time, they dubbed the combination of pudding, pineapple, pecans, and whipped cream the Pistachio Pineapple Delight, but in 1993 they added mini marshmallows to the mix and updated the moniker.


The dessert salad is a Southern Christmas tradition. According to Serious Eats, the first written reference to the treat was in the 1867 cookbook, Dixie Cookery: or How I Managed My Table for Twelve Years. North Carolina resident Maria Massey Barringer suggested layering coconut, sugar, and pulped oranges. By the 1880s, the recipe had evolved to include sliced pineapple and whipped cream, and by the early 1900s cooks were tossing in other fruit such as bananas and strawberries.

Switzerland Just Made It Illegal to Boil Live Lobsters

No, lobsters don’t scream when you toss them into a pot of boiling water, but as far as the Swiss government is concerned, they can still feel pain. The path most lobsters take to the dinner plate is supposedly so inhumane that Switzerland has banned boiling lobsters alive unless they are stunned first, The Guardian reports.

The new law is based on assertions from animal rights advocates and some scientists that crustaceans like lobsters have complex nervous systems, making death by boiling incredibly painful. If chefs want to include lobster on their menus, they’re now required to knock them out before preparing them. Acceptable stunning methods under Swiss law include electric shock and the “mechanical destruction” of the lobster’s brain (i.e. stabbing it in the head).

The government has also outlawed the transportation of live lobsters on ice or in icy water. The animals should instead be kept in containers that are as close to their natural environment as possible until they’re ready for the pot.

Proponents of animal rights are happy with the decision, but others, including some scientists, are skeptical. The data still isn’t clear as to whether or not lobsters feel pain, at least in the way people think of it. Bob Bayer, head of the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute, told Mental Floss in 2014 that lobsters “sense their environment, but don’t have the intellectual hardware to process pain.”

If you live in a place where boiling lobsters is legal, but still have ethical concerns over eating them, try tossing your lobster in the freezer before giving it a hot water bath. Chilling it puts it to sleep and is less messy than butchering it while it’s still alive.

[h/t The Guardian]

Hate Red M&M's? You Need a Candy Color-Sorting Machine

You don’t have to be a demanding rock star to live a life without brown M&M's or purple Skittles—all you need is some engineering know-how and a little bit of free time.

Mechanical engineering student Willem Pennings created a machine that can take small pieces of candy—like M&M's, Skittles, Reese’s Pieces, etc.—and sort them by color into individual piles. All Pennings needs to do is pour the candy into the top funnel; from there, the machine separates the candy—around two pieces per second—and dispenses all of it into smaller bowls at the bottom designated for each variety.

The color identification is performed with an RGB sensor that takes “optical measurements” of candy pieces of equal dimensions. There are limitations, though, as Pennings revealed in a Reddit Q&A: “I wouldn't be able to use this machine for peanut M&M's, since the sizes vary so much.”

The entire building process lasted from May through December 2016, and included the actual conceptualization, 3D printing (which was outsourced), and construction. The entire project was detailed on Pennings’s website and Reddit's DIY page.

With all of the motors, circuitry, and hardware that went into it, Pennings’s machine is likely too ambitious of a task for the average candy aficionado. So until a machine like this hits the open market, you're probably stuck buying bags of single-colored M&M’s in bulk online or sorting all of the candy out yourself the old fashioned way.

To see Pennings’s machine in action, check out the video below:

[h/t Refinery 29]


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