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