Food was on many minds in the year 1900. Our current century opened with a continuing famine in India. With no immediate end in sight, an International Fund was formed in India on the 7th of May, to combat world hunger. Such organizations still have their job cut out for them today.

In our country, ways of increasing agricultural production were being explored. When Macoupin County, in Illinois, opened its summer fair, 500 boys showed up to exhibit corn at a farmer's institute exhibit. They all brought produce grown from seedcorn donated by a local benefactor. W. B. Otwell's gift would turn into a nationwide program, the 4-H clubs. And express wagons poured out of Port Gibson, New York, destined for New York City, carrying a record crop - 2,000 pounds of currants. Besides supposedly being brain food, fish could also be a profitable commodity. Mackerel seining captain Solomon Jacobs had the boat Helen Miller Gould built for him. His investment paid off, earning him $40,600 for the year; a tidy sum in 1900.

The food industry was growing. The Campbell Company, which haêaking soups since 1897 was beginning to wins competitions. Here in upstate New York the Crickler Bottling Works was founded, in Batavia. Crickler's "pop", ("soda" to any New Englanders out there), was one of the staples of my childhood.

But something there is that doesn't love a bottle. At least that was the case out in the Midwest this year. On December 28th, a woman described as "...nearly six feet tall, weighing 175 pounds, with extremely muscular arms...dressed in a sort of black-and white deaconess uniform," walked into the bar of the Hotel Carey in Wichita, Kansas, took out a hatchet, and proceeded to wreck the joint. Cary Amelia Moore Nation, whose first husband had drunk himself to death, was off and wrecking.

Okay. Even if you were against drink, you still had to eat. And another colorful character, a food faddist with the delightful name of Henry D. Perky, was convinced that America's ills could be cured if only we'd all eat his new concoction, a breakfast food made of wheat kernels that had been separated into fibers. He was preparing to build a factory in Niagara Falls, across from the rapids. The enormous plant would introduce innovations such as factory windows, air conditioning, and a free lunch for women. (Men had to pay 10¢). But first he had to convince the city fathers he had a chance of success. He invited a large number of notables to a special luncheon. Canadian author Pierre Berton describes the bill of fare. "...a Shredded Wheat drink, Shredded Wheat biscuit toast, roast turkey stuffed with Shredded Wheat, and Shredded Wheat ice cream." They backed him anyway.

For Classical ninety-one five, this is David Minor.

Copyright 1998
David Minor / Eagles Byte