Snacking in the 1930s


"Where are the snacks of yesterday? A spirited discussion over popcorn in the correspondence columns of The New York Times raises the question: and--though there seems to be a popcorn revival in New York--it must be conceded that many of the between-meals foods and drinks of a generation, or even a decade, ago have vanished almost as completely as the snows. A retrospective glance over the present century reveals a surprising series of changes, behind which the discerning might find almost a complete social history of the epoch...Many of the changes are results of our progressive organization and of the much-discussed standardization of life. Formerly local products were the chief source of our snacks, as was much of our regular food. In New Hampshire the young folks got out a flatiron and a hammer in Winter evenings and cracked butternuts which they had gathered and dried in the Autumn before. In Iowa they regaled themselves on hazel or hickory nuts; in Virginia they lugged out a sack of chiquapins or chestnuts. Nowadays all three States unite in eating pecans from Florida and almonds from California.

"In these urban days it has become easier to buy than to make one's tidbits. Molasses taffy used to be made at every god-fearing American home. A 'taffy pull' was a jolly form of entertainment, even if the candy did sometimes turn out to be rather tough. After the 'taffy pull' had lost a little of its pulling power came the era of home-made fudge; in the earlier years of the century every girl had--or is supposed to have had--a plate of this confection of her own making to offer the 'boy friend...

"Incidentally, changing domestic

conditions have had much to do with

shifting fashions in snack.

The evolution of the kitchen of

yesterday to the 'serving pantry'

of today has worked havoc with

between-meals tidbits at home.

A roomy cupboard or capacious pantry

went with every old-fashioned

kitchen...The delightful part was

that one rarely know just what one

would turn up as the reward of prowl

ing...there was usually a jar of

jam, already opened, or a crock of

apple butter. A thick slice of

home-made bread with a deep spread

of apple butter made a wonderful

filling for the chinks in a hungry

boy's stomach after school...

"...among the causes that have brought changes in our between-meal eating and drinking habits much importance must be conceded to the astounding developments in preserving and packaging goods which have occurred in this century and especially since the World War. The new technique of wrapping and packaging has brought about the spectacular development--largely within a decade--of the 5-cent candy packages now ubiquitous at news stands, drug stores, tobacco shops and the cashier's counters of restaurants. Undoubtedly the constant proximity of such mouthfuls has increased the amount of between-meals munching, at least among city people. What more natural, when waiting for a subway train, than to leave a nickel and pick up a package of Aurora Borealis gum drops? What woman, even when trying to take off a pound a week, can resist the appeal on every hand to buy a 5-cent bar of Angels' Delight milk chocolate? The increased offering of snacks of carious sorts in public places has, in the space of a generation, revolutionized the American attitude toward eating in public places. Formerly, a grown man or woman considers it undignified to munch while walking along the street, but today almost anybody from college professor to errand boy will make away with a bit of candy as he strolls Broadway; and some people think nothing of whole-heartedly cramming down a large-sized banana.

"Packaging has been extended to nuts as well as sweets...Peanuts, like candies, are mostly offered these days in 5-cent packages, shelled, hulled and salted--salted far too much for the taste of the true peanut gourmet, but necessarily so, dealers say, to repel insects. One of the latest comers among packaged nuts is the cashew...Symptomatic of, change in our between-meal eating habits is the metamorphosis of the soda fountain. A generation ago a soda fountain was an inconspicuous affair where there was carbonated water, half a dozen syrups and practically nothing else...Today, when one calls for a 'soda,' ice cream is put in as a matter of course, and in order to get a plain drink one would have to tell the attendant how to make it...A rival to the soda-water fountains in serving between-meals foods and drinks has appeared in the past decade in the spectacular prolifertion of cubby-hole counters for the sale of orange drink and more recently of pineapple beverages; and the 'hot-dog' grill, once limited to Coney Island and other excursion resorts, has within the same period spread like measles all over the country...

"The school boy or girl coming down the street with a once-cent piece...receives most respectful attention from candy factories which spread over blocks as well as from retailers...The hand that holds the penny still rules a considerable part of the candy world...The tastes of childhood seem to have remained more conservative and constant in this century of upheaval than those of their elders. The old-time rock candy has gone...and probably one would have to go far today to discover those delightful motto candies that we knew when we were very young--the heart-shaped disks with such frank avowals as 'I love you'... But the licorice drops and 'shoe strings' of the Age of Innocence still abide. Lollypops...as also the traditional red-and-white peppermint candies, are other childhood favorites which have survived...After-dinner mints...are for grown-ups who do not understand the subleties of candy or much of anything else. Even though made anemic white, they have become enormously popular of late years. One factory recently turned out seventy tons in twenty-four hours.

"Traveling carts still bake and sell sweet potatoes on the east side in Winter; and other carts in season dispense corn boiled on the cob. Best of all, the perambulating vendor with his charcoal fire and sweet-smelling pan of roasting chestnuts still pervades even the busiest streets of New York. For him the century has brought only one change. The disappearance of American chestnut trees has made it necessary to substitute Italian nuts for the smaller and...sweeter native variation... "A generation jaded with 'cocktail teas' may return with zest to the kaffeeklatsch,' or late-afternoon repast of coffee and cakes, once traditional among New York's German families. And who knows but that the perverse younger generation, blase with hip-flask parties, would welcome as a hilarious novelty an old-fashioned 'taffy pull.'"


---"Odd Hour Munching in the Machine Age," Arthur Warner, New York Times, April 24, 1932 (p. AM14)

HEINZ 57 Varieties

1. Heinz Oven-Baked Beans with Pork and Tomato Sauce


2. Heinz Oven-Baked Beans without Tomato Sauce, with Pork--Boston Style


3. Heinz Oven-baked Beans in Tomato Sauce without Meat--Vegetarian


4. Heinz Oven-Baked Red Kidney Beans


5. Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup


6. Heinz Cream of Green Pea Soup


7. Heinz Cream of Celery Soup


8. Heinz Mince Meat


9. Heinz Plum Pudding
 

10. Heinz Fig Pudding
 

11. Heinz Peanut Butter


13. Heinz Cooked Sour Kraut with Pork


14. Heinz Cherry Preserves


15. Heinz Red Raspberry Preserves


16. Heinz Peach Preserves


17. Heinz Strawberry Preserves


18. Heinz Pineapple Preserves


19. Heinz Crab-apple Jelly


20. Heinz Currant Jelly


21. Heinz Grape Jelly
 

22. Heinz Quince Jelly
 

23. Heinz Apple Butter
 

24. Heinz Preserved Sweet Gherkins
 

25. Heinz Preserved Sweet Mixed Pickles
 

26. Heinz Sour Spiced Gherkins
 

27. Heinz Sour Mixed Pickles
 

28. Heinz Chow Chow Pickle
 

29. Heinz Sweet Mustard Pickle
 

30. Heinz Dill Pickles
 

31. Heinz Fresh Cucumber Pickle
 

32. Heinz Fresh Cucumber Relish
 

33. Heinz India Relish
 

34. Heinz Sandwich Relish
 

35. Heinz Soup Pickled Onions
 

36. Heinz Preserved Sweet Onions
 

37. Heinz Spanish Queen Olives
 

38. Heinz Stuffed Spanish Olives
 

39. Heinz Ripe Olives
 

40. Heinz Pure Spanish Olive Oil
 

41. Heinz Tomato Ketchup
 

42. Heinz Chili Sauce
 

43. Heinz Beefsteak Sauce
 

44. Heinz Pepper Sauce, Red and Green
 

45. Heinz Worcestershire Sauce
 

46. Heinz Prepared Mustard
 

47. Heinz Prepared Mustard Sauce
 

48. Heinz Evaporated Horesradish
 

49. Heinz Salad Cream
 

50. Heinz Mayonnaise Salad Dressing
 

51. Heinz Pure Malt Vinegar
 

52. Heinz Pure Cider Vinegar
 

53. Heinz Distilled White Vinegar
 

54. Heinz Tarragon Vinegar
 

55. Heinz Rice Flakes
 

56. Heinz Breakfast Wheat
 

57. Heinz Tomato Juice"
 

---Heinz Book of Salads, [H. J. Heinz Co:Pittsburgh] 1930 (p. 92)