Friday, May 11, 2018

FOOD AT THE FAIR

Myths and Facts About Food at St. Louis Fair

by Martha Rogers


One of the things I love most about any fair or carnival is the food. Cotton candy, corn dogs, and funnel cakes being my favorite, and three foods that always remind me of the fun times on the midway at the Texas State Fair.


A lot of foods were said to have been introduced in St. Louis at the 1904 fair, and the stories embellished through the years. However, some of the stories are true or partly true.

The foods and beverages, whether new or simply little known, took off in popularity after the fair. According to some sources, the list includes hot dogs, ice cream cones, the hamburger, iced tea, peanut butter, and cotton candy.

Some of the stories are quite dramatic even if not completely true. For example, Anton Feuchtwanger gave out white gloves to his patrons to hold his steamed sausages. After too many patrons walked off with the gloves, he asked his brother-in-law to bake buns to hold the meat instead, there was born the hot dog.


Another one, equally dramatic, and closer to the truth, concerns the ice cream cone. Ernest Hamwi was a waffle concessionaire next to an ice cream vendor. When the ice cream man ran out serving dishes, Hamwi rolled up a thin waffle, scooped some cream into it, and voila, there was the ice cream cone.

Other stories like the ones for iced tea and the hamburger were easily proven to be untrue and are less dramatic.


Although Dr. Pepper had been in existence in Texas where it was bottled, it was not widely known. After being sold at the fair, it took off in popularity and became more than a Texas soft drink.

My favorite of the foods at the fair is how cotton candy was made. A vendor had a machine patented by Thomas Patton in 1900 and invented in 1897 by two candy makers from Nashville, Tennessee, John C. Wharton and William Morrison. The vendor poured the sugar into the center post of the spinning bowl, then the spinning motion spun the sugar into a light, fluffy mass of feather-like candy called Fairy Floss.

     

The sugar candy was boxed and sold for 25 cents each. Customers fascinated by the process and the confection bought 68,655 boxes. The term “cotton candy” came into play in 1920. Today you will find blue, pink, white and even green cotton candy sold at fairs, ball stadiums and carnivals all over the country.


Puffed rice, yellow mustard and peanut butter are among other foods became widely popular after those few months in St. Louis. George French introduced his yellow sauce that became a common staple of foods. A young man, Alexander Pierce Anderson was working in his laboratory when he stumbled on the process for “puffing” rice or other grain and quickly sold the idea to Quaker Oats, but they weren’t seeing much market potential for it. To win some hearts and minds, Anderson set up shop at the 1904 World’s Fair and managed to puff (and sell) more than 20,000 pounds of rice. Puffed cereal was born.

Along with the vendors of foods, restaurants offered the best food available in beautiful settings. One of those was the Luchow-Faust World’s Fair Restaurant in the Tyrolean Alps section of the Pike. Two men, August Luchow and Tony Faust combined their two restaurants into one high-class establishment. They offered crystal clear water that was supposed absolutely pure for the price of five cents a glass. That’s the equivalent of $1.20 today.



They gave fancy names to foods served in smaller restaurants and charged a higher price for them. The restaurant’s atmosphere and d├ęcor made up for the higher prices. Seating 5000 diners, it resembled a Tyrolean Alps chateau and featured costumed singers and wait staff. It also had an enormous beer hall.

No matter whether the stories are fact or fiction, these foods became even more popular after the fair. The real legacy of the fair is that, for a few brief months in the city of St. Louis, fairgoers were fascinated by an entire culture of eating that was being remade for the modern world.

What are your favorite foods at a fair or carnival? Answer in a comment below and be entered in a drawing for a copy of my book, MEET ME AT THE FAIR, set in St. Louis during the fair.

We didn't have enough entries last month for the drawing, so if you entered last month, you will be in this month and making another comment will give you another entry. Be sure to include your email address.


Laurel has a tragic past and the rejections of men who can’t see beyond her scars keep her from opening up to others and the scars well covered. The first time Trent sees her, he is smitten with her beauty and her delicious candy. When she goes to St. Louis to open her candy booth at the fair, Trent seizes the opportunity to learn more about her. He sees beyond the scars to the intelligent and talented businesswoman she is, but can she open her heart to find a love stronger and deeper than any physical scars.


Martha Rogers is a multi-published author and writes a weekly devotional for ACFW. Martha and her husband Rex live in Houston, Texas where they are active members of First Baptist Church. They are the parents of three sons and grandparents to eleven grandchildren and great-grandparents to four, soon to be five. Martha is a retired teacher with twenty-eight years teaching Home Economics and English at the secondary level and eight years at the college level supervising student teachers and teaching freshman English. She is the Director of the Texas Christian Writers Conference held in Houston in August each year, a member of ACFW, ACFW WOTS chapter in Houston, and a member of the writers’ group, Inspirational Writers Alive.

Find Martha at: www.marthawrogers.com










17 comments:

  1. What a great post! It's hard to pin down my favorite foods at a fair, but I guess I have to say the new infinitely sliced potato? Oh and at our local fair, maple ice cream is a must! What I mostly know is my husband's must-have, the sausage and pepper sub!!!

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    1. Oh, that maple ice cream sounds wonderful! Thanks for stopping by. I need your email address to make sure you get notice if you are selected.

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  2. Hot dog or cotton candy. cheetahthecat1986ATgmailDOTcom.

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    1. Aha! A woman after my own heart. :) Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. I haven’t been to a fair in a very long time. But I lived in St. Louis for twenty years and I only heard about the ice cream cone and the hotdog bun. I loved to visit the History Museum with the display about the fair. I’m sorry all those buildings were distroyed. I think one is left. I love stories about the fair. Forest Park is still a great place to visit. My son lives just on the western edge today.

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    1. I loved visiting St. Louis. It's a great city with so much to see. Thanks for stopping by.

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  4. Dr. Pepper has been around a long time. :-) Diet Dr. Pepper is my favorite soft drink.

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    1. Yes, it was invented in Waco in the late 1800's, so it is an old fashioned drink, and I love diet Dr. Pepper. Much better than coke. :)

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  5. Great post Martha!
    I always get cotton candy at the fair, it tastes so good! I like the funnel cakes too. Hot dogs and french fries are other favorites. Oh, can't forget candied apples! My hubby likes the Italian sausages with onions and peppers.
    Blessings, Tina

    KINGsDaughter5683 (at) gmail (dot) com

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    1. Candied apples were introduced at fairs around 1910, so they've been around a while. I always enjoyed them when I was younger.

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  6. Fair food a corn dog and lemon shake up. As a child, I enjoyed taffy and cotton candy. Thank you for the giveaway. Blessings.
    marilynridgway78[at]gmail[dot]com

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  7. There are two things I always get at the fair: a corn on the cob slathered in butter and a chocolate covered cheesecake. Yum!! I've got my boys trained to bring me a cheesecake if they go to the fair and I don't.

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  8. Love your post, Martha! I love a good ole corny dog and kettle corn is a must! mauback55 at gmail dot com

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  9. Martha, thank you for your interesting post about the history of food at the fair. I liked the original name for cotton candy.....fairy floss! :) My favorite food at the fair is gyros, bloomin' onions, funnel cakes and elephant ears!!! Thanks for another chance to win your book, Meet Me at the Fair!!! (I also entered to win your book last month on your post.) It sounds like such a GREAT read!! ~ Alison Boss

    nj(dot)bossman(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Rides and foods are two of the most fun things about fairs for me. Thanks for stopping by again. I'll be drawing this evening. Weekend was too busy with family here for Mother's Day.

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  10. Kim Hansen is the winner of MEET ME AT THE FAIR. Congratulations. I'll be sending you an email shortly.

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