Favorite Foods of 1850 and 1900



A site titled ‘Food Timeline‘ explains about the various ‘pioneer’ foods your ancestors may have had; breakfast, dinner, desserts and beverages, which also changes for the seasons. Find some wonderful details to add to your family history.

Some food items are very common and still consumed today but others are stranger and not seen on a dinner plate.  

For 1853 in the winter and similar foods used today: boiled eggs, vegetables, fried potatoes, omelet, pudding and apple sauce. Types of food from 1853 less seen today if at all: vension, roast mutton, oyster pie, stewed liver and calves’ head.

Besides the season of the year, various foods in regions was of importance. Then those ancestors who moved to frontier areas didn’t have many fresh items and had to depend of foods made from the barrels of flour they brought with them and beans.

With the late 1800s and into the 20th century, many new food companies were started to better provide food to the masses. Just a few included: Chase & Sanborn Coffee, Bent & Co’s Hand Made Water Crackers, and Quaker Rolled White Oats. Also added during those decades were the multiple courses during a meal. There could be 5 to 10 courses and take hours to complete.

If you want to get a better understanding of the food for a specific generation of ancestors, do a Google search for the region (like Northeast or a state Pennsylvania) the time frame such as 1880s to 1890s and try middle class meals or restaurant meals in the search. Cook books of the times is also a great source. 

You might even know of a traditional family dish or meal handed down through the family. All of this is great to include in the family history.

Photos: Camp cooks in a logging location; Shoofly pie from PA Dutch;  Stewed Liver and Broiled Shad (fish).

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Share Family Recipes

Preserving Food

Vintage Thanksgiving Meals

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