In historical writing and analysis, PRESENTISM is the introduction of present-day ideals and perspectives into depictions or interpretations of the past. I believe presentism is a form of cultural bias, and it creates a distorted understanding of the subject matter. Reading modern notions of morality into the past is committing the error of presentism. I'm well aware that historical accounts are written by people and can be slanted, so I try my hardest to present articles that are fact-based and well researched, without interjecting any of my personal opinions.
NOTE: I present articles without regard to race, color, political party, religion, national origin, citizenship status, gender, age, disability, or military status. What I present are FACTS — NOT ALTERNATIVE FACTS — about the subject. What you won't find are rumors, lies, unfounded claims, character assassinations, hateful statements, insults, or attempts at being funny.
PLEASE PRACTICE HISTORICISM, WHICH IS INTERPRETING THE PAST IN ITS OWN CONTEXT.
Chicago has always been a food town. After all, how many cities are named for a food, even if it's simply named for the native garlic plant and not a wild onion plant? The Potawatomi called it Chicagoua. Chicago's existence and its wealth were founded on food. From 1833, when Chicago was incorporated as a town, Chicago became the shipping center for the new frontier's agricultural bounty and grew to become the country's food supplier, shipping center, and the heart of America's food processing industries.
With industry came immigrants who brought their seeds to plant to grow, flowers, herbs & spices. Then using their harvests for cooking familiar dishes from childhood. This cuisine makes Chicago a 5-STAR ethnic food town. With money from the industry came refinement in food preparation and the art of fine dining restaurants.
NOTE: I personally hand selected these timeline waypoints, and I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy the variety. Of course I didn't present every dish, person, restaurant, or company, but... if leave your suggestions, as a comment in the gray section at the end of the article,.I'll look into it.
1788. French-speaking Jean Baptiste Pointe de Sable; "Pointe" is the proper French spelling, but the final 'e' is almost always dropped in documents. The 'du' of Pointe du Sable is a misnomer (a wrong or inaccurate name or designation). It's an American corruption of 'de' as pronounced in French. "Du Sable" first appears long after his death in 1818.
French-speaking Pointe de Sable builds a cabin on the west side of the North Branch of the Guarie (Gary) River  in 1788 and grows corn and perhaps other grains and vegetables. The trading post known as the Kinzie Mansion was not the same building occupied by Pointe de Sable for the first ten years of his residency in Chicago from 1788 to 1798. What is now known as the North Branch of the Chicago River was then known as the Guarie River, named after the first trader that followed René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle (Sieur de La Salle is a title only: translating to "Lord of the Manor"). The farm field Pointe de Sable cultivated was traceable on the prairie by the distinct marks of the corn hills.
 Guarie River - The first non-indigenous settler at Wolf Point may have been a trader named Guarie. Writing in 1880 Gurdon Hubbard, who first arrived in Chicago on October 1, 1818, stated that he had been told of Guarie by Antoine De Champs and Antoine Beson, who had been traversing the Chicago Portage annually since about 1778. Hubbard wrote that De Champs had shown him evidence of a trading house and the remains of a cornfield supposed to have belonged to Guarie. The cornfield was located on the west bank of the North Branch of the Chicago River, a short distance from the forks at what is now Fulton Street; early settlers named the North Branch of the Chicago River the Guarie River, or Gary's River.
|This log cabin was on the west side of the North Branch of the Guarie (Gary) River [Chicago River] as the first trading post in the Chicago area. It is often misidentified as Pointe de Sable's 1779 log cabin at the mouth of the Chicago River.|
1803. Britisher John Kinzie buys Pointe de Sable's house and helps build the first Fort Dearborn. His family intermarried with the Potawatomi and ate venison, succotash, and salt pork, food staples of the western frontier.
|Jean Baptiste Pointe de Sable builds this cabin just north of the Chicago River near Lake Michigan in 1779 (approximately where the Tribune Tower is today), where he established a trading post. (claimed to be the first house build in Chicago). Pointe de Sable sold his property to Jean Baptiste La Lime (who Kinzie kills), who sold it to William Burnett, John Kinzie's business partner. In 1804 Kinzie buys the house and property from Burnett and keeps the property until 1828. The house of Antoine Ouilmette (founder of Wilmette) is seen in the background. Illustration from 1827.|
1812. A Southern branch of the Kinzie family arrives in Chicago. James Kinzie set up a still, making Kentucky-style whiskey to sell. An 1829 lawsuit from Francis Laducier against James Kinzie for selling him a pint of whiskey unlawfully because Kinzie had no license to sell less than a quart. The outcome is unknown.
1820. The Clybourne and Hall families, kin to the Kinzie's, set up a cattle yard in "Rolling Meadows." They move cattle, meat, and hides down what will become Chicago's Clybourn Avenue.
1827. John Kinzie and Archibald Caldwell build the first tavern at Wolf Point. Caldwell had the distinction of being the first licensed liquor seller and landlord in Chicago, and therefore Wolf Point Tavern was Chicago's first tavern. Most of the beverages served were hard and homemade.
1827. Archibald Clybourn built a log slaughterhouse on the north branch of the Chicago River and supplied meat to the garrison of Fort Dearborn from his stockyard called "Bull's Head Market."
|Bull's Head Market|
1830. George W. Dole, later called "Father of the Provisions, Shipping and Elevator Business," opens Chicago's first food store at Dearborn and South Water Streets, which later became known as the "South Water Street Market." Dole begins slaughtering and packing beef at his store. He processes 150 head a day, and the Chicago meatpacking industry was born.
|South Water Street, "The Busiest Street in the World." (1899)|
1833. Mark Beaubien, the future hospitality king, operates the storied Sauganash Tavern. Only 16 by 44 feet, the tavern served meals in shifts and sold gallons of whiskey shots. As the merry, fiddle-playing Beaubien put it: "I eat 50 people to dinner, by gar."
|The Sauganash Hotel. The small log building on the left was Chicago's first drug store.|
1833. James Kinzie built the Green Tree Tavern at the northeastern corner of Canal and Lake Streets.
|Green Tree Tavern, 1833.|
1835. As New Englanders settled in Chicago, they brought with them a taste for oysters. Delivered by sleigh from New Haven, Connecticut, the first fresh oysters in Chicago were served in 1838 at the Lake House Hotel on Kinzie Street. The Lake House Hotel was Chicago’s first foray into fine dining and offered these East Coast imports to their well-heeled clientele. It was the first restaurant in Chicago to use white tablecloths, napkins, menu cards, and toothpicks. This spurred Chicago’s earliest love affair with the oysters.
New Englanders settle in Chicago, bringing with them a taste for oysters. Chicago had become a huge oyster town, with large multilevel oyster houses. These houses would have a dance hall, lunchroom, formal dining, and taprooms in one huge building.
Delivered by sleigh from New Haven, Connecticut, the first fresh oysters in Chicago were served in 1835 at the Lake House Hotel on Kinzie Street. The Lake House Hotel establishment was our city’s first foray into (5-Star) fine dining and offered these East Coast imports to their well-heeled clientele. It was the first restaurant to use white tablecloths, napkins, menu cards, and toothpicks.
This spurred Chicago’s earliest love affair with the oyster. By 1857, there were seven "Oyster Depots" and four "Oyster Saloons" in the city. Chicago's population in 1860 was 109,000. Peaking in the Gilded Age with a population of 1,001,000 in 1890, and wained with Prohibition. Oyster consumption was always plentiful in old Chicago.
Believe it or not, Ice cream parlors also served oysters because they had all that ice.
1835. William Lill, an immigrant from England, settled in Chicago in 1835 after famously walking to Chicago from Louisville, Kentucky, a 300-mile journey. Lill bought a large share of the Haas & Sulzer Brewery in 1837. Michael J. Diversy, an immigrant from the current Alsace-Lorraine area of France, shared the ice stored on the premises of the Haas & Sulzer Brewery, operating his dairy from the same building. The Haas & Sulzer Brewery plant was sold in 1843 to Lill and Diversy, which was then named "Lill & Diversy," was located at the corner of Pine Street (Michigan Avenue) and Cicero Avenue; aka "The Chicago Brewery." Their first year’s brew was about 460 barrels of Ale. Both Haas and Sulzer left the brewing business.
1836. Irish cuisine comes to Chicago in the 1830s, with many immigrants from Ireland settling in the working-class community of Hardscrabble (today's Bridgeport), aka "The Cabbage Patch." Many early Chicago areas were nicknamed the 'The Cabbage Patch' because people grew cabbages in their yards or on their farms. Boiled potatoes and cabbage were staples, but their traditional pickled pork becomes corned beef in Chicago's cattle-rich stockyards.
1837. W.F. Myrick's Stockyard on 28th Street is an ancestor of Union Stock Yards. He opened "Myrick's House" in 1839, which was a noted stop for drovers and cattlemen to buy food and drinks and enjoy shadier entertainments. All will flourish in the rapidly growing city, often to the dismay of respectable citizens. The city's first census shows 398 dwellings, 29 General stores, and produce stores. Taverns outnumber churches but not lawyers.
|Myrick's Operation in the 1840s.|
1838. The steamer Great Western carries 75 bushels of wheat as incidental cargo from Chicago.
1839. Chicago has seven hotels but no independent restaurants. Eating out means hotel dining rooms or the less reputable taverns.
1846. The first private dining establishment opens in Chicago. Willian Johnson, brother of J. Johnson, has taken the Room under the Billiard - Saloon and in the rear of the Barbershop, on the northwest side of Clark Street, for the purpose of opening a Private Restaurant, for the accommodation of Gentlemen. Offering a variety of Refreshments, such as Birds, Oysters, Tripe, Pigs' Feet, Ham and Eggs, etc., etc. At which place they can be had at all hours and on the shortest notice. — Advertisement in the 1846 Chicago Norris Business Directory.
1846. Chicago's first Swedish settlement emerged in 1846, when immigrants destined for the Swedish religious colony in Bishop Hill, Illinois, decided instead to settle in Chicago. Many of these earliest settlers came to work on the Illinois & Michigan Canal. Although the Swedish settlement remained small for the next two decades, reaching 816 people in 1860 and 6,154 in 1870, it represented the largest single cluster of Swedes in the United States. As the Swedish settlement moved, the area north of the Chicago River on the Near North Side became known as "Swede Town," today's Cabrini-Green Neighborhood. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Swedes began moving to other areas of Chicago, and this accelerated in the 1880s. By 1920 Swedes dominated North Side neighborhoods such as Andersonville and Lakeview as well as the Grand Crossing and Englewood neighborhoods on the Southside. The Swedish Smörgåsbord restaurants, serving a variety of hot and cold dishes buffet-style, became popular all over the city. Andersonville had so many that it was called "Herring Alley."
1847. Cyrus McCormick moves to Chicago in 1847 to manufacture his mechanical reaper. He sells 450 in the first year at more than $100 per machine ($2,780 today). McCormick will make a great fortune, part of which will pass to his grandnephew Robert R. McCormick who will run the Chicago Tribune starting in 1914.
1847. The Illinois and Michigan Canal opens. Midwestern farmers discover Chicago's market, and corn exports to the East rise eightfold.
1847. Chicago becomes a major hog butcher, shipping 683,600 pounds. The city quadruples that figure by 1849, but Cincinnati still retained the title "Porkopolis." Unable to claim the pork title, Chicagoans declare their town "The Great Bovine City of the World."
1847. The Chicago Board of Trade is founded. By 1856 it establishes uniform categories and grades of wheat and other grains that are currently used worldwide.
1850. Beer and bratwursts come to Chicago. Large numbers of German immigrants bring a knack for making sausages, bread, beer, fine pastry, and confections to the city. Peter Rinderer opened the first beer garden in Chicago, the "Ogden Grove," named for the land company he purchased the ground. Ogden Grove was located at Clybourne and Sheffield Avenues in the Ranch Triangle Neighborhood in Chicago's Lincoln Park Community.
1853. From the St. Nicholas Hotel, the earliest existing hotel menu dates to 1853—just when the New York-Chicago railroad connection is completed.
1854. Chicago is the heart to which new railroad arteries connect. Some 83 million bushels of grain are pumped in and out via rail and the river. During the Civil War, demand for food at home and abroad will make the city the country's food supplier and shipment center. A third of all rail lines lead to Chicago.
1854. Grocers of this period advertise: "Goods Delivered to any part of the City free of Charge." The Age of Delivery Boys dawns. And one William Winter, a cook, appears in the Chicago city directory of 1853-54. He's the first and only person so named. Chefs are not yet called chefs.
1854. The first large steam-powered elevator ever built in Chicago for handling grain from railroad tracks was on the Northside, on the Chicago River, west of Wells Street. It was built by George A Gibbs and E W Griffin of Gibbs, Griffin & Company. It was also known as the Chicago & Galena Union Railroad Elevator. The structure was 312 feet long, 80 feet wide, and 130 feet high, much like the monster grain elevators we see today. By the end of the decade, elevator capacity is more than 4 million bushels. Chicago is on its way to becoming a grain wholesaler to the world.
|A Visual Aid|
1855. Always an ethnic city, Chicago's population numbers 25,677 Americans. Germans and Irish account for many of the 35,879 foreign-born inhabitants.
The first exclusive restaurant listings appear in the 1855 Chicago city directory.
Chicago City Directory: Restaurants & SaloonsClarendon, 214-216 Randolph Street.Commercial Dining Hall, 50 Clark Street.Gill Edmund, North Wells Street at the corner of North Water Street.Hatch Heman, North Wells Street near Kinzie Street.Holway's, 131 Randolph Street.John Boyle's Oyster Saloon, 8 North Clark StreetMcCardel, 17-19 Dearborn Street.Maulton's, 192 Randolph Street.Mason's, 133 Randolph Street.Restaurent de Paris, 227 Clark Street.St. Charles, 15-17 North Clark Street.St. Neblo's Hilliard, Hilliard's block - N/E corner of Clark and South Water StreetsTremont Exchange, 8 Tremont block - S/E corner of Lake and Dearborn StreetsVinton's, 82 Randolph Street.Washington Coffee House, State Street at the corner of Randolph Street.Chicago City Directory: Oyster DepotsHenry Cooke, 12 Clark StreetJ.B. Doggett, 125 South Water Street
1856. Chicago has 10 brewers and 37 confectioners. Lill and Diversy at the corner of Pine Street (Michigan Avenue) and Cicero Avenue brewed "Brown, Amber, and Pale Ales" and made "Rectified Malt Vinegar."
1858. Refrigeration in food processing takes hold when Chicago meatpackers use stored winter ice to keep pork during summer. Cutting and storing large blocks of ice on Lake Michigan and area lakes have become big business.
1858. The first lunch counter opens at Chicago's Rock Island Railroad Station.
1859. Chicago counts 46 confectioners, 9 vinegar-makers, 4 "Pickle Warehouses" (all in the South Water Street market), and one manufacturer of "Vermicelli and Macaroni," 195 Sherman Street. Macaroni often appears on Chicago menus, but the term pasta awaits the 20th Century.
1860. David Berg & Company was founded and developed a following of customers fond of their signature, kosher-style all-beef hot dogs. This was before the Civil War! David Berg hot dogs were served at the Chicago Republican National Convention that nominated Abraham Lincoln for president in 1860. David Berg, the pioneer that introduced the "hot dog" at South Side Park located at 38th Place and South Princeton Avenue in 1901 at the home of the Chicago White Stockings.
1865. The Union Stock Yard & Transit Co., or "The Yards," was the meatpacking district in Chicago for more than a century, starting in 1865. The district was operated by a group of railroad companies that acquired swampland and turned it into a centralized processing area. It was called "Union" because seven separate stockyards contributed the $1.5 million it took to build enough pens to house 100,000 hogs and 10,000 head of cattle. By the 1890s, the railroad money behind the Union Stockyards was Vanderbilt's money. The Union Stockyards operated in the New City community area for 106 years, helping Chicago become known as "hog butcher to the world," coined by poet Carl Sandburg, and the center of the American meatpacking industry for decades.
1865. Chicago Board of Trade establishes formal rules for futures trading. It becomes a significant part of the American food industry.
1865. The first cookbook published in Chicago was called "Household Treasures," published by R.R. Landon at 88 Lake Street, Chicago. Then in 1867 comes "The Cake Baker; a book of practical recipes for making cakes."
|1867 Sour Mash Whiskey|
1867. Gardner Spring Chapin and James Jefferson Gore opened the distilling company, Chapin and Gore, in Chicago in 1867, creating a brand of their own which they called “1867 Sour Mash Whiskey.” They became something of local heroes during the Chicago Fire of 1871. To keep the stock of whiskey safe from flames and looters, he hired men to roll barrels full of bourbon and rye — some claim as many as several hundred kegs — into Lake Michigan. This “Fire Whiskey” became a sensation, and they sold off jugs of the stuff at inflated prices. This funded their rebuilding and expansion after the disaster. Chapin & Gore also opened a saloon they called Chapin & Gore’s Café. This drinking establishment featured good food and had a reputation for being “high toned," but offered "Cheap Eats," perhaps setting the local trend. A new Chapin and Gore Building, located at 67 East Adams Street, was built in 1904 as their distillery. Chapin & Gore’s liquor was so good it began to attract a national audience to its brands which included “1867” and “Old Jim Gore,” which the firm trademarked in 1904. The partners eventually acquired their own Kentucky distillery near Cloverport in Breckinridge County. They opened branch offices in Kansas City, Indianapolis, and Paris, France. The new building layout consisted of a first-floor saloon and retail store with company offices and warehouse space in the upper 7-stories. The brand was discontinued during Prohibition, but Chapin and Gore Old Reserve was revived shortly thereafter. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 27, 1979, and later designated as a Chicago Landmark on January 21, 1982. The Chapin and Gore Building is currently the home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra administration and was attached to Orchestra Hall in 1997.
|The exterior of the Chapin & Gore Restaurant and Saloon under the Newport Hotel & Gambling House at 73-75 West Monroe Street, Chicago. It was razed in 1904. (picture circa 1902)|
1867. Armour and Company were founded in Chicago by the Armour brothers led by Philip Danforth Armour in 1857. By 1880, the company had become Chicago's most important business and had helped make Chicago and its Union Stock Yards the center of America's meatpacking industry.
1868. Haute cuisine appears at the County Ball in Crosby's Opera House. Catered by John Wright, it was an "architectural-gastronomic" extravaganza.
It features a pastry chateau, Bouchée à la Reine (literally meaning "queen's morsel;" named after the Queen of France, Marie Leszczynska, wife of Louis XV), a spun-sugar pagoda temple, and two nougat temples. These were surrounded by delectables such as prairie chicken patties, boned turkey, boned hams, patties of quail and many other birds, and de rigueur (according to strict custom), a whole wild boar's head.
1868. Charles "Carl" Frederick Günther was known as "The Candy Man." Gunther opened his own candy factory and store at 125 Clark Street in Chicago in the Fall of 1868 called "Gunther's Candies Company." He originated and introduced caramels, which have been a staple product of all factories ever since. Among his confectionery treats were candy chocolate cigars he called "La Flor de Gunther Cigars' de chocolate." His Clark Street factory completely burned to the ground in the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. Gunther reopened a temporary kitchen and store at 78 Madison under the McVicker Theater in 1871-72. His business began to take off and boom by 1875.
1869. Charles "Carl" Frederick Günther, "The Candy Man," introduces his caramel-coated popcorn and peanut mix by 1869. It became the rage at Chicago's 1893 World's Fair. It was later named "Cracker-Jack," and Gunther was given another nickname, the "Cracker-Jacks King." Frederick "Fritz" William Rueckheim and his brother Louis formed the F.W. Rueckheim & Bro. Company in 1873. Fritz sold popcorn at 113 Fourth Avenue (today's Federal Street) in Chicago. The Rueckheim legend is filled with exaggerations since sugar-coated popcorn with molasses and mixed with peanuts was already known by the late 1860s. Unfortunately, the molasses of this early version was too sticky. Both claims involve introducing this product at the 1893 World's Fair. Whomever it was, Cracker-Jack is still popular today! As the story goes, Cracker Jack got its name from a salesman who tried Cracker Jack for the first time. When given the popcorn mix to try, the salesman yelled, "Cracker Jack!" (Cracker Jack originally meant "awesome" or "wonderful.")
1870. Mrs. Francis MacBeth Glessner begins a household journal that focuses on her Prairie Avenue mansion. It's an unparalleled 50-year window on her upper-class family's culinary experiences.
The Glessner House is Chicago's very own "Upstairs-Downstairs," the lives and fortunes of the Glessner family and their lower-level servant staff. After a vacation in Mexico, they brought back the recipe for the tamales they ate. Seafood is also a family favorite, including Lobster Newburg, trout in aspic, and crab.
1871. The Great Chicago Fire in October leaves only 5 restaurants open in the city directory.
1871. Mrs. Owen's Illinois Cook Book (pdf), by Mrs. T.J.V. Owen, Springfield, Illinois, was published in 1871.
In coming before the public with the " Illinois Cook Book" I do so because years ago I felt the necessity of a book of this kind; one that would be a guide to young housekeepers, as well as a great convenience to older ones. There are a great many receipts published from time to time, that in all probability are very good; but we are often loth to try anything entirely new, through fear, not only of the disappointment, if it should not prove good, but the waste of material, which by a careful housekeeper should be the first consideration. Taking this into consideration, I have been careful of preserving all well-tried receipts, and in collecting such as, in my own judgment and the judgment and experience of my friends, would reach the necessities of all who may desire a good practical receipt book. In all general directions, I have tried to be explicit, making them so plain that the most inexperienced can understand. Let all remember that care must be taken in order to produce nice dishes; so that with care and a liberal amount of good material we may all live well at least. To the ladies of Springfield, Illinois, I owe much for their extreme kindness in supplying me with receipts from time to time, and for their voluntary recommendation of the book to the public. Allow me here to express my heartfelt thanks to all those who have shown me this kindness, and let me here say that I have known the truth of the adage that a friend in need is a friend indeed. — Mrs. T. J. V. Owen
1872. Aaron Montgomery Ward rented a small shipping room and published a general merchandise mail-order catalog, with 163 products listed, which was dated August 18, 1872. Ward initially wrote all the catalog copy. Cookware was among the items sold. By 1900 the catalog incorporates dozens of kitchen and food items, such as "Chicago Honey Cured Hams" and "Acme Stoves."
1873. Chicago cravings for oysters are still growing. Colonel John S. Wilson began his restaurant in Chicago in 1873, establishing Wilson’s Oyster House in the basement of the Morrison Hotel at 21 South Clark Street. He was the first and only caterer in Chicago to have live lobsters shipped to the Chicago market to be served. In 1875, the name was changed to the Boston Oyster House. Charles E. Rector, the cashier, was a young man of a likable personality who later became the manager of the establishment and an oyster restauranteur in his own right.
|The first Morrison Hotel at the corner of Clark and Madison Streets in Chicago. 1907|
1875. Chicago quickly recovers from the Great Fire. By 1875 there are 176 restaurants. Twenty of them have Italian names, including Bona Caesar at 92½ Madison Street. Only about 550 Italians live in Chicago at this time.
1875. Social decorum rules high-class restaurants. Mr. Charles D. Whyland is a proprietor with Mr. Foss of Chicago's great game restaurant, St. Elmo's at 145 Dearborn Street, in connection with the Kuhns' Hotel. Charley refuses to dine with Miss Salisbury because she works in a bordello. No record on whether Miss Salisbury stayed to finish her meal. As a result of this "insult," Charley was shot to death by Salisbury's "acquaintance," a faro card dealer (a gambling game) Henry Davis, in a drunken fit, on Thanksgiving evening, Thursday, November 25, 1875, at St. Elmo's restaurant.
1877. Italian and French-style cuisine appears on more fine dining restaurant menus. The New Year's Day dinner at the Gardner House Hotel included among the usual vast list of meats "Macaroni en Tembole, a la Parisienne," and "Quail en Salmi, Sauce Pericode." But the Palmer House menu in November of 1877 is a pioneer in simpler dining. After appetizers of spiced oysters, smoked tongue, and corned beef, a patron could choose from venison steak with currant jelly, breaded turkey wings with green peas, or macaroni with cheese. Side dishes included stewed tomatoes, boiled potatoes, boiled rice, and fried parsnips. Hamburger Steak first appears as "Steak Hambourgeoise" at the Tremont Hotel in 1877.
1879. Schlogl's saloon and restaurant opened on Wells Street, near the Chicago Daily News building in the Bohemian neighborhood after the turn of the century. Famous newspapermen, writers, and artists such as John T. McCutcheon, Ben Hecht, and Carl Sandburg would get free meals there on Fridays if their work appeared in print that day.
1880. Herman Henry Kohlsaat married Mabel E. Blake and became a junior partner of Blake, Shaw, and Company, at Adams & Clinton, in charge of a huge bakery establishment in 1880. The firm established a small business, a dairy lunchroom, in connection with the bakery. On July 1, 1883, Mr. Kohlsaat bought out the other members of Blake, Shaw, and Co. and continued the business alone as H.H. Kohlsaat and Company. For thirty years, H.H. Kohlsaat was one of the largest wholesale baking establishments in Chicago. He became the originator of the "bakery lunch," restaurant which featured counters with swivel stools (but not horseshoe-shaped counters yet). They specialized in quick service at reasonable prices. He opened several more lunch spots, which drew good patronage from downtown businessmen. Kohlsaat built up an enormous business and opened bakeries in other parts of the city. He subsequently became successful in other enterprises.
CHICAGO WHITE PAGES, JUNE 1908:
H.H. Kohlstaat Resident Address: 186 Lincoln Park Boulevard, Chicago
|H.H. Kohlsaat Wholesale Bakery at 1701 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.|
Five years later, its continuing success prompted the envious former owner of Kolling's to refuse to renew the Mayers' lease on the building in 1888. Instead, he announced that he would resume control of the firm himself. But without the Mayer brothers, his store failed within a year. What he had not counted on, however, was Oscar Mayer's determination. Having worked very hard to establish his business, the young entrepreneur was not about to let anyone take it away without a fight. Mayer borrowed $10,000 and purchased a piece of property only two blocks away, close enough to continue serving his faithful clientele. He then built his own building and set up shop again in 1888. A third Mayer brother, Max, came over from Germany about 1888 to join the company as a bookkeeper when they built a new two-story building two blocks from the first location and lived in apartments over the store.
1884. Chicago's access to beet sugar, milk, and corn syrup makes it a confectionery center. The National Confectioners Association was founded here by 69 manufacturers in 1884. As Chicago caters to America's sweet tooth, it also becomes home to the American Dental Association in 1918 (founded in 1859 in Buffalo, New York) and the American Dietetic Association in 1917.
1885. Charles Cretors opens a confectionary shop in Decatur, Illinois. Workers made candy right in the window so that passersby could see how their future purchases were created. Always on the lookout for new attractions, Charles bought a steam-powered peanut roaster. Roasted peanuts were a popular snack food and logical addition to his offerings. Disappointed with his new acquisition, he felt he could make a better product and set out about doing so. Charles had a passion for how things worked and how they could be made to work better. Soon, Charles Cretors moved to Chicago, where he felt he could become a commercial success. Charles Cretors bought a peddler's license and put his new roaster machine on the sidewalk in front of his shop. The license, dated December 2, 1885, marks the inception of the C. Cretors & Co. By 1893, Cretors had created a steam-powered machine that could roast 12 pounds of peanuts, 20 pounds of coffee, popcorn, and baked chestnuts as well. Creator's machine design offered several advantages over the hand-operated process became the first automated machine that could pop popcorn uniformly in its own seasonings. As a result, the product was uniform every time. The machine also provided an attraction for both the retailer/vendor and the customer. Charles Cretors took his new popcorn wagon to the Midway Plaisance at Chicago's Columbian Exposition in 1893 and introduced the new corn product. Creator gave away samples of his popcorn. The smell of hot buttered corn being popped in its seasoning before the buyers' and fresh roasted peanuts attracted attention and sales. People lined up to purchase bags of hot buttered popcorn. Set on wheels, it makes mass appearances at ballparks and fairs as a staple in snack food. Popcorn machines became so popular they showed up in nearly all movie houses and automobile dealerships.
|Bamberger's Store. The novelty of the steam engine, the Tosty Rosty Man, a small mechanical clown that acted as a merchandiser for the machine.|
1886. Richard Sears started a business selling watches. Joining Alvah C.Roebuck, they form a new catalog sales company headquartered in Chicago. Like Aaron Montgomery Ward, it will become one of the country's retail leaders in kitchen appliances and cooking gear. By 1900 Sears surpasses Montgomery Ward in national sales. Home appliances have become an important part of the business. Stoves sold for $11.96 and were guaranteed for life. Sears begins selling electric appliances in 1922.
The Kelvinator Company was a U.S. home appliance manufacturer founded in 1914 in Detroit, Michigan. It takes its name from Lord Kelvin (William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin), who developed the concept of absolute zero and for whom the Kelvin temperature scale is named. In 1918 Kelvinator introduced the first refrigerator (see illustration) with any type of automatic control. By 1923, the Kelvinator Company held 80% of the American market for electric refrigerators.
1887. At Chicago’s New York Kitchen, located at 201-203 South Clark Street, they were known as "The Leader of Low Prices for First-Class Victuals." Their Bill of Fare changed daily. Dinner dishes are only served from 11am to 2pm. On the other side of the menu, all articles named are served at any hour - from 5am until Midnight - (1am). A nickel or dime buys you over 25 dishes. Oysters, any style, 15¢ per dozen. Waukegan Glen Rock Spring Pure Water was served to our patrons free of charge. Guests whose limited time will be served in double quick time by first speaking to the cashier at the desk or the Head Waiter or his assistant.
1888. The Edward Katzinger Company began by Austrian-born Edward Katzinger manufactured tin pans for bakeries. In 1923, the company built a large new factory at 1949 North Cicero Avenue on Chicago's Northwest Side. In 1945, led by Arthur Katzinger, a son of the founder, the small company went public under the name Ekco Products Company for the initials of its founder. By the late 1950s, it is believed that Ekco produced 65% of all kitchen utensils and 40% of all cutlery. By the beginning of the 1960s, still based in Chicago, Ekco employed about 6,000 people and did about $90 million in annual sales. In 1965, American Home Products Corp. of New York purchased Ekco. The company continually acquired other companies, growing by leaps and bounds. In 1972, the highly profitable company was divided into three divisions: Ekco Products Inc, Ekco Housewares, and Prestige Group, Inc. By the 1980s, it was purchased by Centronics Corp. of New Hampshire, Ekco was based in suburban Franklin Park, and it remained a leading manufacturer of bakeware.
1890. The first restaurant in a Chicago department store was opened by Marshall Field in the State Street store. As the story goes; When Mrs. Hering overheard two customers grumbling that they had nowhere to eat, she thought nothing of offering them the homemade chicken pot pie she had brought for lunch. She set up a table, served up her pie, and, without knowing it, started a restaurant - and a revolution. The ladies were so grateful that they convinced Mrs. Hering to make more pies for the next day, telling her that they would bring friends to lunch and view the latest in hats the next day. These ladies spread the word about the tastiest chicken pot pie they'd ever eaten, and soon Mrs. Hering was selling her pies at a counter in the millinery department. Manager Harry Selfridge was quick to recognize the potential of serving food to hungry female guests and thus keeping them in the store for more shopping. So he persuaded Mr. Field to try out the idea by opening a small tearoom in the building. On April 15, 1890, fifteen tables were set up on the third floor. There were eight waitresses and four cooks. Named "The South Tearoom," it was serving five hundred guests a day within a year. In 1893, the year of the World's Fair, the South Tearoom moved to the entire 4th floor in the oldest section, 1,500 people per day. In 1907 the tearoom moved to the 7th floor and named the "South Grill Room," then known as the "Walnut Tearoom," next as the "Walnut Grill," and finally as the "Walnut Room" in 1937 that occupied the entire floor.
|The Marshall Field’s South Tearoom in 1902. On the 4th floor of the oldest part of the store.|
1891. Charles E. Rector Oyster House Company restaurant opened at 35 Adams Street, between State and Wabash. He was the manager at the Boston Oyster House in the Morrison Hotel. Rectors was one the most celebrated restaurateurs in Chicago history and the Mecca of Chicago's nightlife. A reporter says: "If there's any fish you want, go to Rector's, and he'll get it." Rector's chef, Charles Ranshoffer, will become one of America's early culinary stars. Cocktails at Rector's cost 15¢ or 25¢ without a food order. To view the Rector's Oyster House Company's Bill of Fare from Saturday, October 28, 1893, click on the menu cover below.
1892. Aluminum, a new material, is adapted to cooking pots, pans, and utensils. The Illinois Pure Aluminum Company at 109 Holmes Street in Lemont was founded in 1892 manufacturing cookware. The company showed at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition and produced an aluminum souvenir coin, "Eglit-38."
Lemont's first motto was: "Mother of Aluminum Cooking Utensils." As the high-tech industry of its time, the Illinois Pure Aluminum Company provided a mainstay of employment for over a century in Lemont, closing in 1977.
1893. The fine oyster houses in Chicago usually offered more than 35 oyster selections. A dozen raw oysters were 25¢. See Rector's Oyster House Company's Bill of Fare.
1893. The Tip Top Inn Restaurant was in the Pullman Building on the southwest corner of Michigan Avenue and Adams Street in Chicago. When owner George Pullman died in 1897, Robert Todd Lincoln, Abraham's son, filled in as the acting president. During the Columbian Exhibition in 1893, Adolph Hieronymus left his job as a chef at the Palmer House. He took over the Pullman building restaurant, renaming it to the "Tip Top Inn." Under his management, it became one of Chicago's best restaurants. Robert Lincoln's role transformed into a permanent one in 1901. He resigned in 1911, citing health concerns. Lincoln remained involved as the chairman of the board, a position he held until 1922. For the first few years, the Pullman company ran its own restaurant, "The Albion," on the 9th floor. It was considered advanced at the time to locate restaurants on top floors so that cooking odors would not drift throughout the building. In addition, diners at The Albion, and later the Tip Top Inn restaurant, had excellent views of Lake Michigan. The space occupied by the Tip Top Inn was divided into a bewildering number of rooms, at least five, and maybe more at once. Each had its own decorating scheme. Over the years – but not simultaneously — there were the Colonial Room, the Nursery, the Whist Room, the Charles Dickens Corner, the Flemish Room, the French Room, the Italian Room, the Garden Room, the Grill Room, and the Whist Room. The Tip Top Inn restaurant closed in 1931.
1893. The World's Columbian Exposition opens in Chicago. The great event attracts more than 27 million paid visitors to its amusements, restaurants, and displays of manufactures and agriculture. The exhibitions spanned from an ostrich farm to the world’s first Observation, "Ferris" Wheel.
1893. The great restaurant concession of the 1893 World's Columbian Exhibition in Chicago was held by A.S. Gage in the name of the Wellington Catering Company and covers 137,800 square feet of floor space. It also embraces privileges in all sixteen buildings erected by the World's Fair committee, as well as a supply depot erected by the company. The concession provides for three classes of eating places. The first will include the finest restaurants, with service equal in excellence to that maintained in any 5-star hotel in this city. The second grade will be on an equality with the style of the hotels known for their popular restaurant. The third class takes in lunch-counters and a self-serve buffet system, where cold meats sandwiches, hot coffee, pies, and cakes will be served. This class was operated in a building where the odors of a kitchen cannot be permitted to float around promiscuously among the exhibits and sightseers. These counters and buffets, however, says Mr. Gage, will be as fine and supplied with just as good food as can be found anywhere. The total space involved in this concession will be allotted to the different classes in these proportions: To the first 20%, the second 40%, and the third 40%. The seating capacity at tables throughout the different buildings is estimated at 12,000, and the lunch counters aggregating 7,500 feet, or one and one-half miles in length, 4,000 people may dine at one time. On the supposition that this capacity can be changed five times—and that is a low calculation—the Wellington Catering Company will feed 80,000 people a day. This number may be increased to 100,000 a day. The company will not only adopt its own standard, such as prevails now in the Wellington Hotel cafes downtown, but proposes to serve the best of wholesome food at each and every one of its places. In the general supply estimate, something like fifty heads of good-sized bullocks that will dress out 30,000 pounds of beef a day, with two and a half tons of ham for sandwiches, will cover the meat demand. Sixty barrels of flour a day will be consumed in bread, pies, and cakes, with potatoes and other vegetables of all kinds in proportion. The quantity of milk that will be consumed is beyond the limit of advanced figures. The very finest restaurant to be conducted by this company will be located in the Administration building, and it is understood it will be the best place to eat in the fairgrounds.
|Click to View the Wellington Catering Company Map.|
1893. The organizers of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 asked Bertha Honoré Palmer and the Palmer House Hotel to concoct a delicious and transportable dessert. She created the First-Ever Brownie. Click for the ORIGINAL 1893 recipe and to view a photograph of the brownie. To experience what thousands of 1893 fairgoers actually tasted for the first time in their lives, do not deviate from this recipe.
1893. The Vienna beef hot dog made its debut at the World’s Fair at a stand operated by Austrian-Hungarian immigrants Emil Reichel and Samuel Ladany. They sold their Vienna sausages for 10¢ in “Old Vienna” on the Midway Plaisance. Also known as the Austrian Village, this attraction stretched between Ellis Avenue and Greenwood Avenue on the south side of Midway Plaisance and was constructed to appear as an ancient neighborhood of Vienna. Inside its gates, visitors found a large courtyard, scores of stores and houses, a beer garden, theater, and museum.
1893. William Wrigley Jr. moved from Philadelphia to Chicago in 1891 to go into business for himself. He had $32 to his name ($875 today), and with it, he formed a business to sell Wrigley's Scouring Soap. He offered customers small premiums, particularly baking powder, as an incentive to buy his soap. Finding the baking powder was more popular than his soap, Wrigley switched to selling baking powder and giving his customers two packages of chewing gum for each can of baking powder they purchased. Again, Wrigley found that the premium he offered was more popular than his base product, and his company began to concentrate on the manufacture and sale of chewing gum. The Wrigley Building on Michigan Avenue’s named after him, and so is Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs. — Urban Myth? In 1915, William Wrigley Jr. sent four free sticks of gum to more than 1.5 million people, OR to every person in a cities telephone book, OR to 8.5 million people, OR to every person in America that is listed in the telephone book.
1893. Many products introduced at the World's Fair become staples of the American food scene. Among them: Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix, Cracker Jack, Cream of Wheat, Shredded Wheat, and Wrigley's Juicy Fruit Gum.
1893. Although Pabst Blue Ribbon claimed to win the Blue Ribbon at the World's Fair, they did not. (PROOF) The Pabst Brewery and Pabst mansion finally corrected their websites because of the research paper I sent to them.
1893. Favorite Dishes: A Columbian Autograph Souvenir Cookery Book (pdf). Over three hundred autograph recipes, and twenty-three portraits, contributed by the Board of Lady Managers of the World's Columbian Exposition. Compiled by Carrie V. Schuman. Published in 1893.
1898. The Berghoff Restaurant at 17 West Adams Street in Chicago's Loop since 1898. When the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition opened in 1893, Berghoff set up a stand on the Midway Plaisance and sold their beers to people entering and exiting the fair. For much of its history, the Berghoff waiters would purchase the meals they were serving from the kitchen and then deliver them to the customer, keeping the amount the customer paid for the meals. A historic restaurant with famously authentic German-Austrian fare and bar.
1899. Brothers Henri, Pierre (Peter), and Charles DeJonghe came to Chicago from Belgium in 1891 to run a concession at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. After a successful World's Fair debut, they moved their restaurant downtown to the basement of the Masonic Temple. From there, they eventually parlayed their restaurant into "DeJonghe Hotel and Restaurant Company," located in the heart of the Loop at 14 East Monroe Street from 1899 to 1923. It was there shrimp DeJonghe was created, possibly by their chef, Emil Zehr, which has the oldest pedigree of Chicagoan cuisine. Shrimp DeJonghe, a specialty of Chicago, is a casserole of whole peeled shrimp blanketed in soft, garlicky, sherry-laced bread crumbs. It can be served as an appetizer or a main course. The hotel and restaurant flourished until the 1920s when Federal Judge Adam C. Cliffe closed DeJonghe's for violations of the nation's prohibition laws. A Prohibition agent registered at the hotel as Mr. Johnson, ''a traveling man from Boston,'' according to a story in the Chicago Tribune in July of 1923. Johnson struck up a conversation with James T. Hickey, the hotel manager, who was also a Boston native. After a time, Hickey introduced Johnson to the head waiter who, according to the Tribune story, ''sold him three-pint bottles of whiskey at $10 a pint.'' A raid ensued in which 30 cases of liquor were seized. The manager's claim that the liquor belonged to a former guest who stiffed him for his lodging was to no avail. Not even Hickey's pleas that such notables as Mrs. Edith Rockefeller McCormick, Mrs. H.O. Stone, Mrs. Bertha Hororé Palmer, and Justice Owen Cartwright of the Illinois Supreme Court were frequent guests who could sway the judge. DeJonghe's was padlocked. Although the judge ruled that the hotel would be allowed to reopen after a period of one year. DeJonghe’s Hotel never reopened, and the DeJonghes were not heard from again. Henri DeJonghe died in Tucson, Arizona, in 1961 at the age of 98, taking with him his ''secret'' recipe.
1900. Beginning at the turn of the century, restaurants group together in downtown (the Loop) Chicago. The reason is not hard to understand. Groups of the same kind of restaurants attracted flocks of lunch customers who knew they were likely to find something they wanted to eat. Chain restaurants, like Thompson's Cafeteria and Ontra Cafeteria, were becoming common and lesser-known restaurants were eager to locate near the successful eating establishments to catch their overflow. It was also used as a marketing ploy as City officials nicknamed streets of similar style restaurants as a "row" to help boost the local economy.
Cafeteria Row: Wabash Avenue had the largest number of self-service restaurants in the world.Restaurant Row: Randolph Street where there were 39 busy restaurants within a six-block stretch.Toothpick Row: Clark Street had lots of lunchroom businesses.
Chicago was referred to as the "Candy Capital of the World" because Chicago was home to over one thousand candy purveyors, associations, and publications that supported confections.
Roughly 170,000 Polish immigrants arrive in Chicago, and their cuisine becomes a landmark in Chicago's culinary landscape. The Busy Bee Restaurant at North, Milwaukee and Damen Avenues in the Wicker Park neighborhood opens in 1913. Homemade polish food, soups, beet borscht, and 4 or 5 different kinds of Pierogis daily. The restaurant had numerous visits by President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton, both Mayor Daley's and lots of other local big-wig political figures, even Senator Edward Kennedy stopped in to eat. Lots of famous Chicagoan sports figures, newspaper columnists, Chicago police officers, and city workers made the Busy Bee their lunch spot too.
Greek immigrants begin to arrive in Chicago. By 1910 their numbers reach 15,000. Many become peddlers selling fruit, vegetables, "red hots," and "hot tamales." via small street carts. By the 1920s, many have become amazingly successful. Of the 18,000 Greeks in Chicago, 10,000 own their owned their own businesses. Restaurants seem to be a business of choice, and many of them pop up along Halsted Street.
The Jewish population of Chicago rises to 275,000. Most come from Eastern Europe and settle around Halsted and Maxwell Streets. Jewish restaurants and kosher-style foods are a hallmark of the Maxwell Street market. In 1994 the city of Chicago closed the by-then mostly Hispanic market and opened a "Nuevo Mercado" (New Market) on Canal Street.
|Leavitt's Delicatessen and Restaurant, Maxwell Street.|
1903. Wabash Railroad built the Rialto Grain Elevator on a slip of the Calumet River at 104th Street in 1902. A year later, the Star & Crescent Milling Company built a flour mill on the other side of the slip. A cereal plant was built on the site in 1923, and all were combined in 1929 with the formation of General Mills. Among the products produced at the South Chicago plant were Gold Medal Cake Flour, Wheaties, Bisquick, Kix, Cheerios, Betty Crocker Soup, Betty Crocker Cake Mixes, Cocoa Puffs, Trix, and others. The plant closed in 1995.
1904. Emil J. Brach invested his life savings of $1,000 in a storefront candy store in 1904. He named it "Brach's Palace of Sweets," located at the corner of North Avenue and Towne Street (Frontier Avenue today) in Chicago. With his sons Edwin and Frank, he started with one kettle. By 1923, Brach had 4 factories operating at capacity. Brach then invested $5 million (Today $69 million today) in building a new factory located at 4656 West Kinzie Street. The candy production was consolidated into one building. Brach was producing 127 different varieties of candy and had a capacity of 2.22 million pounds per week.
|The Rialto Elevator and Star & Crescent Milling Company.|
1906. Upton Sinclair publishes "The Jungle." The public uproar about foul conditions in meatpacking plants leads to the passage of the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act. Oscar Mayer is one of the first meatpackers to receive a Federal Meat Inspection stamp that year.
1908. The Ferrara family had been bakers in Italy. Salvatore Ferrara emigrated from Nola to New York in 1900. In 1908, he opened a bakery at 772 West Taylor Street, in the heart of Chicago's "Little Italy" neighborhood. He sold candy-coated almonds known as "confetti" (or Jordan almonds), a popular treat at Italian weddings. The Ferrara family had been bakers in Italy. Salvatore Ferrara emigrated from Nola to New York in 1900. In 1908, he opened a bakery at 772 West Taylor Street, in the heart of Chicago's "Little Italy" neighborhood. He sold candy-coated almonds known as "Confetti" (like Jordan Almonds), a popular treat at Italian weddings. When candy sales became greater than pastries, Ferrara partnered with two brothers-in-law, Salvatore Buffardi and Anello Pagano. They built a two-story brick building at 2200 West Taylor Street and began producing a variety of panned candies. The second floor of the building was devoted to the revolving kettles that produced the pan candy, with all of the machines being driven by a giant wheel. The candy was dropped to the shipping department below through a hole in the floor.
1909. The Ontra Cafeteria chain was started in downtown Chicago in 1909 by Miss Mary L. Dutton, self-described as "a woman past fifty." Dutton's first cafeteria at 123 North Wabash Avenue in Chicago had a seating capacity of only 96 people. She started with only $1,000 of capital. The average check was 42¢. By 1956 Thompson’s Restaurants operated Ontra Cafeterias.
1910. Chinese restaurants become ever more popular in the early part of the century. The 1910 city directory lists sixty-four Chinese restaurants. One is the celebrated Joy Lo King at 100 West Randolph Street. Seating several hundred people, the waiters wore formal jackets with tails. An orchestra entertains diners. Other classic Chinese restaurants in the Loop include Joy Hing Lo on North Clark Street and Joy Yen Lo on North State Street. Kow Kow Chinese-Cantonese Restaurant was most famous for its egg rolls. They opened in 1949 at 2548 West Devon Avenue in the West Rogers Park neighborhood of the West Ridge Community, on Chicago's far north side. In 1989 they moved to 6755 North Cicero Avenue at Pratt Avenue in Lincolnwood, Illinois. In 2015, three days before the pre-announced closing of Kow Kow, the kitchen staff was unable to keep up with the demand for egg rolls, and a sign was posted on the front door that said: "No egg rolls." Hundreds of customers responded to Kow Kow's offer to place take-home orders for frozen egg rolls. By 9 pm on Sunday, closing day, they fulfilled orders which totaled 24,500 frozen egg rolls. (Click to view a video of Kow Kow's egg roll secrets.)
1910. World War I cuts off European immigration and sets the stage for the Great Migration of negroes to the north. Like all other migrants have, they bring their food and dishes with them. Barbecue has been very popular over the decades, which included pit-barbecue, smoked barbecue, grilled, and a variety of other methods. Everybody has their favorite Bar-B-Q sauce. By 1940 barbecue restaurants and chicken shacks are so numerous that they rate a separate listing in the Negro Business Association Blue Book and The Negro Travelers' Green Book.
1912. The Maxwell Street Market was officially recognized by the city in 1912. Maxwell Street first appeared on a Chicago map in 1847. It was named for Dr. Philip Maxwell. It was originally a wooden plank road that ran from the south branch of the Chicago River west to Blue Island Avenue. For about one hundred years, Maxwell Street was one of Chicago's most unconventional business—and residential—districts. About a mile long and located in the shadow of downtown skyscrapers, it was a place where businesses grew, selling anything from shoestrings to expensive clothes. Its immigrants arrived from several continents and many countries shortly before the turn of the century. First to come were Germans, Irish, Poles, Bohemians, and, most prominently, Jews, especially those escaping Czarist Russia, Poland, and Romania. (The term Jewtown IS derogatory.) In the 1940s, Southern blacks worked in Maxwell Street's stores and entertained its crowds with Delta-style blues. Later, Mexicans, Koreans, and Gypsies joined its teeming environment. From its own poverty-stricken homes came many famous—Arthur Goldberg, William Paley, Benny Goodman, Barney Ross—and infamous—Jake Guzik and Jack Ruby—people. Goods on card tables and blankets competed with goods in sidewalk kiosks and stores. Sunday was its busiest day since the Jews worked on Sundays, the Christian Sabbath when stores were closed in most other parts of the city. Merchants battled city officials to keep Maxwell Street alive despite its reputation for crime and residential overcrowding. Its eastern section was destroyed in the mid-1950s for the Dan Ryan Expressway. In the 1980s and 1990s, virtually all of the rest was razed for athletic fields for the University of Illinois at Chicago. What remained of the market was moved several blocks to a place with none of the flavors of the old street. The New Maxwell Street Market is at 800 South Desplaines Street and is only open on Sundays, March thru December, from 9am to 3pm.
1914. Dario Louis Toffenetti was born in Trento, Trentino Italy in 1889. He came to America in 1910 allegedly after being recruited to peddle ice cream from a cart in Cincinnati. Disillusioned with that job, he soon traveled westward, selling baked potatoes at a Wisconsin mining camp, then becoming a busboy at the dining room of Chicago’s Sherman House Hotel on the northwest corner of Clark and Randolph. In 1914 he opened his first restaurant in Chicago. He was ambitious and would quickly develop into an ingenious marketer. In 1916 he enrolled in night school at Northwestern University’s School of Commerce. In 1921 he opened his second restaurant. At a time when advertising, marketing, and public relations were making giant leaps forward, he was quick to implement the latest tactics. He advertised heavily and “named” the food sold in his restaurants. When he promoted ham, it was not generic ham but “Roast Sugar Cured Ham” from packer Oscar Mayer. (“It’s no wonder these Ham Sandwiches make your mouth water! Oscar Mayer's Unusually Good’ Approved Hams are used.”) By 1937 he had six restaurants in the Chicago Loop under the name Toffenetti-Triangle.
|225 South Wabash Avenue.|
225 South Wabash Avenue.
The Restaurants address history:
225 South Wabash Avenue
6 South Clark Street
119 South Clark Street
130 South Clark Street
307 South Clark Street
171 West Madison Avenue
57 West Randolph Street
194 West Randolph Street.
330 South State Street
According to accounts, Toffenetti wrote his own colorful advertising copy, such as, “These hams are cut from healthy young hogs grown in the sunshine on beautifully rolling Wisconsin farms where corn, barley, milk, and acorns are unstintingly fed to them, producing that silken meat so rich in wonderful flavor.” Equally over the top was his copy for Idaho baked potatoes, with references to a “bulging beauty, grown in the ashes of extinct volcanoes, scrubbed and washed, then baked in a whirlwind of tempestuous fire until the shell crackles with brittleness…” Customers who had not previously eaten baked potatoes soon learned to ask for “an Idaho.” Another heavily promoted dish, “Old Fashioned Louisiana Strawberry Shortcake,” was “topped with pure, velvety whipped cream like puffs of snow.” To build trust with an always-skeptical public, he featured himself in his ads (bald head and all), often adding his signature. In a 1930s Depression advertisement, he pledged to keep prices low without reducing quality. When Prohibition ended, he announced that he would serve beer, but not “in any fashion that might offend our most fastidious women patrons.” Another factor in his success was winning catering contracts at two world fairs, Chicago in 1933 and New York in 1939-40. Toffenetti was president of the Chicago Restaurant Association for seven terms (1936-1943). After his death in 1962, the business was conducted by other Toffenetti family members until about 1980. Unlike many other immigrant restaurant operators who were characterized, often unfairly, as running “a hole in the wall,” Dario Toffenetti was celebrated by the organized restaurant industry as a model progressive restaurateur.
1917. Armour and Company, founded in Chicago in 1867, publishes a household primer, "The Business of Being a Housewife." Not surprisingly, the booklet promotes Armour's "Veribest" products in color. In it are some of the first recipes based on canned foods. "Luncheon Beef Stew" is made from sliced onions, potatoes, a can of Veribest Tomato Soup, a can of Veribest Luncheon Meat, a can of Veribest Peas, and a Veribest seasoning sauce.
1918. The "Great Patriotic Food Show" was held at Chicago's Coliseum in January. It helped to visualize the WWI patriot's pantry, according to the gospel of Herbert Hoover, the Director of the United States Food Administration from 1917 to 1918. All exhibits were censored to conform to the rules and regulations laid down by the food administrator. The whole show was demonstration work coupled with army and navy routine, what the Food Administration and the United States Department of Agriculture, and the Bureau of Fisheries are doing to take care of the present food stress. The exhibit was divided into five units; proteins, fats, sugars, starches, and fruits & vegetables. There was a lecture room in which talks on war food and patriotism were made at two daily sessions. In the basement of the Coliseum, where this show was held, there was an exact copy of a cantonment (camp) kitchen and dining hall, and the same food was served twice daily for a nominal price as the boys in the different cantonments were getting on the same day. This was a part of the army exhibit of how the soldiers are clothed, fed, and housed; the balance of their exhibit being on the ground floor with the demonstration booths. A book giving all the recipes bears the legend, "It is the patriotic duty of every woman to follow the advice and recipes contained in this book." Among the dishes were creamed rabbit, head cheese, tamale pie, potted pigeon on toast, goose rice timbales, and possum marinate in vinegar and lemon juice.
1918. The Slotkowsky Sausage Company, founded in 1918, sells what will become known as the Polish sausage.
1919. The U.S. Constitution is amended for the 18th time. Prohibition began on January 17, 1920. This time it prohibit the sale of alcohol which was an opportunity for gangsters and mobsters like Al Capone. Free lunches end at saloons and taverns. Speakeasies legally sold drinks with liquor already in stock until they sold out. Lunch counters and soda fountains popped up everywhere. Some brewers, to stay alive, offer beer and winemaking kits as legal alcohol was still available during the prohibition years.
1920. The "Original" Blackhawk Restaurant on Wabash Avenue opened in Chicago's Loop in 1920, the same year Prohibition began. Otto Roth and son Don were savvy innovators, tapping into diners' desires and setting trends before the word "trendsetter" became part of America's vernacular. Classical musicians played from the balcony as diners ate. In 1926, he abandoned the classical music format and installed a dance floor and stage, making the Blackhawk one of the first restaurants to mix dinner and dancing. Otto died suddenly in 1944. Don Roth "Made Food the Show." Don's tableside theatrics featured prime rib and later roast beef, served from food carts rolled through the dining room. His signature spinning salad bowl, set on ice and surrounded by 21 ingredients, including their secret "Spinning Bowl" dressing, which he later bottled and sold via local grocery stores. The original Blackhawk Restaurant on Wabash Avenue closed in 1984.
|Don Roth prepares the spinning salad bowl for diners, including actor Buster Keaton (right).|
1920. No one knows why H. Teller Archibald named his company Fannie May (aka Archibald Candy Corporation), but he founded it on a philosophy to "make the best quality candy possible and always sell it fresh." After Archibald started the first store at 11 North LaSalle Street in Chicago. His Buttercreams are introduced in 1920 and become an instant success. Archibald created a candy kitchen on West Madison Street that remained until the end of the 1930s. Fannie May bought the property at 1137 West Jackson Boulevard in Chicago, which is the company's headquarters to this day. By the mid-1930s, Fannie May had expanded outside of Illinois and had a total of 47 shops. Sticking to the company philosophy of quality, Fannie May sold less candy during World War II rather than substitute cheaper ingredients and sell the same amount. When candy would run out each day, the store would close until more could be manufactured. The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America certified many of Fannie May's products to be kosher.
1921. Andrew Kanelos opened a small candy store in Chicago, Illinois. While he initially named his store "Andy's Candies" in reference to himself, Kanelos realized that his predominantly male customers did not like giving boxes of candy with another man's name to their wives and girlfriends, so Kanelos changed the spelling of the business to "Andes Candies."
In 1980, Andes was purchased by the Swiss candy company Interfood (later Jacobs Suchard). When Jacobs Suchard bought Brach's in 1987, Andes became part of that division. When Jacobs Suchard was sold to Kraft General Foods in 1990, Brach's was kept separate by owner Klaus J. Jacobs. In need of cash, Brach's sold Andes to Tootsie Roll Industries in 2000.
1925. “Lenell Cookies,” as it was first known, began as a bakery founded in 1925 by Swedish brothers Hans and Gunnar Lenell. Their bakery was located at 4349 North Avers Avenue in Chicago. Then the Lenells' joined with friend Agaard Billing in 1937 to start the company, which they changed its name to “Maurice Lenell Cooky Company," the misspelling paying homage to Hans and Gunnar's Swedish heritage. A new bakery plant opened in 1956. It was located in Norridge, Illinois, at 4474 North Harlem Avenue. The Maurice Lenell Cooky Company closed in 2008.
1925. Creamed dishes had become staples of the American diet. In 1925, upscale restaurant menus contained dishes like chicken a la king, crab meat a la Newburg, plain creamed chicken, chicken au gratin, creamed shrimps and rice, creamed potatoes, and creamed turnips. Budget restaurant menus included dishes like creamed ham and mushrooms, creamed brains, creamed chip beef on toast, creamed codfish, creamed carrots and peas, and creamed cabbage.
1927. MacLeod Manufacturing Corp. of Chicago makes a new electric "household beater" under the A.F Dormeyer Corp. name. The company produced the first electric household beater that featured a detachable motor for cleaning purposes. Apparently, their kitchen products enjoyed a very good reputation. By 1931 the Chicago Flexible Shaft (later Sunbeam) produces the Mixmaster, and Dormeyer couldn't compete against other less expensive brands. It appears that in the late 40s, they started to manufacture power tools (designed by John "Jack" Morgan, who went on to become chief product designer at Sears Roebuck. On August 16, 1954, they announced the future building of a $5 million appliance manufacturing center located on a triangular tract bounded by the north branch of the Chicago River and Damen and Fullerton avenues. In 1960 they were bought by another Chicago company, Webcor, which declared bankruptcy in 1967.
Mrs. Japp's. When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii on December 7, 1941, during WWII, the grocers started calling us immediately, demanding that we remove our Japp chips from their stores,'' said Leonard. ''We wanted Jax, but it was taken by a brewing company. The name Jays was available, and we renamed the company Jays Foods, Incorporated."
1927. Dutch Mill Candy Company was established in 1927 at 2222 Diversey Parkway in Chicago. "The Finest Candy This Side of Heaven." The company closed in 1988.
1929. Fluky's founder, Abe "Fluky" Drexler, first started in 1929 on Maxwell and Halsted Streets in Chicago. In 1932, a second Fluky's was opened, and then in 1935, a third and a fourth in 1936.
Fluky's became known for its "Depression Sandwich" - a hot dog with mustard, relish, onion, pickles, pepper, lettuce, tomatoes, and French fries for only 5¢! The "Garden on a Bun" was the depression sandwich without the hot dog and cost only 2¢.
|The Chicago-style hot dog consists of a steamed poppy seed bun, an all-beef hot dog, a kosher pickle spear, yellow mustard, green relish, diced onions, fresh tomato slices, sport peppers, and a dash of celery salt.|
1930. Antoinette, born in Seneca, Italy, married Francois Pope, a native of France, in the early 1920s in Chicago. She learned to cook from Francois and his parents, owners of a Parisian cafe. Friends would comment on the wonderful dinner she had served, and she would tell them to come back the next day. Then she'd teach them to make it. The Antoinette Pope School of Fancy Cookery opened in the basement of their house on the South Side in 1930. Antoinette charged 75¢ for her first classes. Sometime in 1938 or '39, the Popes bought a larger home at 77th Street and Marshfield Avenue and built a school in the basement. Antoinette bought 50 old theater seats and mounted mirrors over her work area. Their carefully tested recipes eventually were put into the Popes' numerous cookbooks, including the "Antoinette Pope School Cookbook," first published in 1948. In 1942 the Popes opened a 3,000-square-foot school at 316 North Michigan Avenue with an auditorium for 150 students, experimental kitchens, and laboratories. The Popes' school reached more Chicagoans when in 1951, it was aired on local and network television. The "Creative Cookery Television Show," featuring Francois Pope and sons Frank and Robert, was aired daily until 1963. The sons helped Antoinette run the school until Francois's death in 1971, and the school closed its doors.
1932. The Cape Cod Room at the Drake Hotel opened in 1932 and became Chicago’s first choice for fresh seafood and the nation’s first themed restaurant.
1932. Raffaele (Ralph "Bottles") James Capone, Al Capone’s older brother, with the help of Murray "The Hump" Humphreys, Frankie Diamond, and Diamond's brother, Johnny Maritote, who was married to Al’s sister, Mafalda bought Meadowmoor Dairies at 1334 South Peoria Street in Chicago on May 4, 1932. Ralph Capone got the nickname "Bottles" not from the Capone bootlegging empire but from his bottling milk at Meadowmoor Dairy. Al Capone and Ralph are responsible for milk expiration dating in Chicago in 1933. Ralph took the reigns on milk dating once Al was incarcerated in prison Alcatraz prison in 1931.
1933. Prohibition ends in 1933 with the repeal of the 18th Amendment. The Berghoff Restaurant is the first in Chicago to receive a liquor license.
The Century of Progress World's Fair opens in Chicago. It introduces many new food products, including Miracle Whip.
1934. After a visit by English food expert Andre Simon, a Chicago chapter of the International Wine & Food Society is formed in 1934 with Arnold Shircliffe, "The Escoffier of Chicago," presiding over this chapter of the dining society. Among the rules are no cocktails before dinner (because they dull the taste buds), no smoking during dinner (for the same reason), no condiments or bread and butter on the table (they mask the chef's artistry), and no drinking water during meals (because when taken with rich foods, water causes fat to congeal). — Arnold Shircliffe spent his life in the catering trade, working in almost every branch of it. He held jobs in the Army, railroad dining cars, hotels, clubs, and restaurants.
He began as a supervisor of a dining car in 1902, remaining in that occupation for a couple of decades before becoming catering manager of the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago. While there, he published the Edgewater Beach Hotel Salad Book in 1926. Around 1936 he became manager of the restaurant in Chicago’s Wrigley Building, then known as Grayling’s, a position he held until his death in 1952. — Andre Simon founded the International Wine & Food Society in 1933. The International Wine & Food Society of Chicago was founded on December 17, 1934, and is the third oldest branch in the Americas. The object of the International Wine & Food Society is to bring together and serve all who believe that a solid understanding of good food and wine is an essential part of personal contentment and health and that an intelligent approach to the pleasures and problems of the table offers far greater rewards than the mere satisfaction of appetite.
1935. Jacques Fumagally was born in 1879 in Monte-Carlo, in the Principality of Monaco on the French Riviera close to the Italian border. His father was a restaurateur in Monte Carlo. Early in his career, Fumagally worked in prestigious establishments like the Ritz on Place Vendôme in Paris and the Sevilla Biltmore in Havana, Cuba. In the late 1920s, Fumagally was the very stylish Maitre d’Hôtel at 180 East Delaware Place, a very classy restaurant just half a block east of Michigan Avenue, across from what is today the John Hancock Center. A complete table d’hôte dinner would cost around $1.50. Fumagally morphed that restaurant into Jacques French Restaurant in 1928, and it would remain at that the Delaware Place location until 1935.
Jacques Fumagally decided to lease the space occupied by the ‘’900 Restaurant’’ at 900 North Michigan Avenue. He invested lots of money in that new place, including creating the soon-to-be-famous summer terrace in the inner open yard of the building, three dining rooms, and a cocktail lounge with a very modernistic bar. Everything was air-conditioned. The new Jacques French Restaurant opened on June 1, 1935. Jacques Fumagally retired to Florida in 1953 and sold the restaurant to Ray Castro, a Cuban immigrant who arrived in Chicago in 1930.
Ray Castro worked as a busboy, then waiter, and eventually captain at the celebrated Pump Room in the Ambassador East Hotel, with his partner Edison Dick, the heir to the copying machines company, in 1953. It is probably when the restaurant lost its original French identity and became more ‘’continental’’ in style and cuisine. Jacques Fumagally died in 1969. Jacques French Restaurant was closed when the 900 North Michigan Avenue building was demolished in 1983.
1937. Dad's Root Beer was developed in 1937 by partners Ely Klapman and Barney Berns in the basement of Klapman's Chicago-area home. The first trademark registration was filed on September 24, 1938, granted on February 14, 1939, to the Dad's Root Beer Company of Chicago, with the product name allegedly in use since February 1937. Dad's earned a loyal following. Dad's Root Beer brand was famous throughout the Midwest and, by the late 1940s, was one of the most consumed brands of root beer throughout the United States.
1938. When tracing the history of the Chicago Italian beef, all roads lead to Al’s #1 Italian Beef (known as Al's or Al's Beef for short) in the Little Italy neighborhood on Taylor Street, which opened in 1938. The roasted beef is warmed in its own Au jus, piled high upon a crusty French bread from either the Gonella Baking Company (since 1886) or Turano Baking Company (Est. 1962) before the whole sandwich is dipped in the meaty Au jus, and topped with a spicy giardiniera and sweet peppers. The sandwich's story starts around the end of World War I with a Chicago street peddler named Anthony Ferrari. Ferrari would drive around the city making deliveries of cold sandwiches and other lunches he cooked in his home to blue-collar workers at various locations around the city. One day he went to a local wedding, and the course of Chicago culinary history was changed forever. While many in the beef business claim to have invented the Italian beef, the common ground is that its origins lie in the Italian-American immigrant tradition of the “peanut wedding” prevalent among Italians who immigrated to Chicago in the early 1900s. Because the new immigrants didn’t have much money, wedding receptions would be held in homes and church basements where peanuts and other cheap foods designed to feed as many people as possible were served. This included cuts of beef. Beef sandwiches at peanut weddings in the early days were originally rather thick cut of beef, and Ferrari thought that if you slice the beef thinner and cook it in its own Au jus, you could feed 35-40 people instead of 15-20. The thinner cut came to be known as the Italian beef used for the Chicago-style sandwich. Afterward, Ferrari continued to provide the service at local weddings sporadically in addition to making his usual lunch deliveries for the next 20 years until his son, Al Ferrari, decided to make a business out of it. This is when things really get interesting. The original Al’s was called Al’s Bar B-Q, located at Harrison and Laflin Streets, and was little more than a small outdoor patio (or “stand,” as there was no seating). As a sign of the growing popularity of Al's beef sandwich, crowds of 30-40 people would line up outside the beef stand just before midnight on Fridays as observant Italian-American Catholics wouldn’t eat meat on Fridays, waited for the clock to strike midnight, making it Saturday, so they could indulge in the best beef sandwich in Chicago. There are skeptics that poo-poo Anthony and Al's creation story. But after researching this, I'm sticking to this story.
1938. The Pump Room opened on October 1, 1938, by Ernie Byfield. At the restaurant, the biggest stars of the day had the ultimate social-status symbol waiting for them -- Booth Number One. Ernie Byfield, a famous hotelier, and restaurateur who would personally pick up celebrities at the train station. It was located in the Ambassador East on the northeast corner of State Parkway and Goethe Street in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood. They closed in 2017.
|Liz Taylor at the Pump Room, Chicago. (1960)|
1939. Rustic dining becomes the rage, and nobody did it better than Elliott's Pine Log Restaurant in Skokie. The pine log building was nestled in three wooded acres, making you feel like you were in a Wisconsin country inn or a Swiss Alps Chalet. Fireplaces, a sunken cocktail lounge with a piano player, and overstuffed chairs added to the ambiance. The roasted duck was by far their most popular dish as people came from miles around.
1943. Jack Spratt Coffee House in the Kenwood neighborhood on Chicago's South Side was the first Chicago restaurant to serve negroes. Jack Spratt was forced to serve some really smart negroes because of their peaceful "sit-in." The restaurant called the police. Little did the restaurant know that the group had already talked to the police about their plans. When the police arrived, they refused to do anything, telling the manager that she would either have to serve the patrons or find another acceptable solution as no laws were broken. Everyone ended up being served.
1943. Ike Sewell, a Texan, and his partner, restaurateur Ric Riccardo, find a way to make thin-crust pizza into a full meal. They invent (or so they say) the Chicago deep-dish pizza and open Pizzeria Uno to serve it in 1943. Pizzerias Uno and Due retain the original pizza recipe and the original one-hour wait for it.
1947. After World War II, a second great negro migration to Chicago begins. Soul food restaurants were scattered around the south side. The greens, collards, chitlins from the south were basically the things that were given away because they didn’t think it had nourishment. Favorite restaurants like H&H Cafe at 125 East 51st Street in Chicago served dishes that included fried catfish, fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, and slow-cooked pork shanks. Bar-B-Q rib joints popped up all over the city and suburbs.
1948. The first Affy Tapple was created in 1948 by the Kastrup family. According to history, this was the first caramel apple created in the United States - which is why their tagline is "The Original Caramel Apple!" The Kastrup family opens an Affy Tapple store at 7117 North Clark Street in Chicago in 1952. Why the goofy name Affy Tapple? So they would be the first name in the confectionary section of the telephone book.
1950. Chicago's dining scene has achieved an eclectic mix. Steakhouses such as Charles Foley's at 71 East Adams Street compete with Don Roth's Blackhawk Restaurant at 139 North Wabash Avenue. Jewish delicatessens abound in the Loop and the North and West sides.
Among the famous Deli's is Ashkenaz Restaurant & Delicatessen (1910-2012) at 1432 West Morse Avenue in the Rogers Park Community. You can order chopped chicken liver, gefilte fish, cheese blintzes, potato latkes, kishkes, corned beef sandwiches, or any number of Jewish dishes.
▼My favorite is hot pastrami on rye bread with yellow mustard.▼
1951. George Stephen’s (Mr. Stephen) Family came to America from an area near the border of France and Germany. The family made their way to the Joliet area of Illinois, and there they set about farming, and they were quite successful at it. One of Mr. Stephen's relatives had an opportunity to apprentice in the metalworking business at an early age, and this is likely how others in the family made their way to the Chicago area and became involved in that industry. In 1885, in Chicago, two brothers by the name of Weber had set up a metal spinning and stamping business near the west loop of Chicago. They occupied several different loft buildings in that area over the years, and in 1933 they hired Mr. Stephen. It was the depression, and Mr. Stephen had lost his job as an estimator for a sheet metal company, and Weber Bros hired him as a salesman. By the time WWII comes around, Mr. Stephen is a majority stockholder along with one of the Weber Brothers sons and an unknown third party who is also the plant manager. This third party then passes away, and Mr. Stephen assumes that role with the company. With the war going on, Mr. Stephen would work endless late-night hours filling the orders and contracts created by the war effort. Shortly after the war ends, George A Stephen (George), Mr. Stephen's son, joins the company. George came up with what’s called a posting tray which holds posting cards, and the item did quite well on the market. Then George came up with the garden lamps and a few other items that were sold. But he was looking for something bigger and better. By the early 1950s, George's kettle is on the drawing board, and George is convinced that this is the product the company can use to take the next step in its growth and future. The kettle was expensive to produce, and it tied up the company’s spinning machines keeping them from other contracts they needed to fulfill. The price of the finished product was around $50 ($540 today) when other barbecues on the market were selling for around $7. Producing the grill in 1951, George knew he had to increase sales and prove his idea was a winner, and for this, he took his product out to the people. He blanketed the Chicago and surrounding region with cooking demonstrations using a group of trained cooks, many of whom worked for the company during the week and cooked on the weekends. George also went head to head with The Big Boy Brazier style grill at many conventions and events across the country.
It was apparent that George’s idea of covered cooking was the far better option. By 1956 George’s kettle was becoming more and more popular. The company wasn’t able to keep up with demand, and George realized that in order to keep costs down, he would have to streamline the operation. He did this by outsourcing the components to other companies that were better equipped. The company expanded, adding an area to assemble the finished parts. In 1965 a Bar-B-Q division of Weber Brothers was created and named the Weber-Stephen Products Company. And back-yard grilling took off.
1960. Chicago's Mexican restaurant 60s scene has exploded in the Pilson neighborhood around 18th Street and Ashland Avenue and 26th Street and Pulaski in the North Lawndale neighborhood, southwest of the Loop. Nuevo Leon Restaurant, established in 1962, has locations at 1515 West 18th Street and 3657 West 26th Street. The Mexican population increases dramatically, and Mexican foods and products change Chicago's culinary tastes. Salsa will soon become the number 1 condiment, and the proliferation of Mexican grocers begins in earnest.
1962. Gordon and Carole Segal opened the first Crate & Barrel store on December 7, 1962, at age 23 in Chicago's Old Town neighborhood. He calls it Crate & Barrel. Segal's empire grows to include 70 stores from coast to coast. The 1,700-square-foot space in part of an old elevator factory was located at 1516 North Wells Street in the then-bohemian Old Town neighborhood of Chicago. The Segals derived the company name from the materials that they originally used to display items in their Chicago store. A friend suggested they call their company "Barrel and Crate," but Carole thought they should reverse the order of the words. They turned over the crates and barrels that the merchandise came in, let the wood excelsior spill out, and stacked up the china and glass. This helped emphasize their strongest selling point, that their products were direct imports. Crate & Barrel presently has over 100 stores in the U.S.
1963. "Chef" Louis Szathmary (born Lajos István Szathmáry II 1919–1996) was a Hungarian-American chef, writer, and public personality. In 1951, Szathmary emigrated to the United States, arriving in New York City from Bremerhaven, Germany, speaking no English, with $1.10 in his pocket. Once there, he found work as a short-order cook and worked his way up through the ranks, honing his skills until he catered to the East Coast's elite. In 1959, he moved to Chicago to work for Armour and Company, where he developed frozen food lines for various food companies, including Stouffer's. Stouffer's classic Frozen Spinach Souffle is one of Szathmary's creations. He continued to pioneer the rapidly changing food industry, working with new ideas, including freeze-drying and boil-in bags. Some of Szathmary's creations were used by NASA and accompanied astronauts in space. Operating from 1963 to 1989, Szathmary's Chicago restaurant, "The Bakery," served what Szathmary referred to as "continental dishes with American undertones." The inclusion of "exotic" European dishes expanded the fine dining in Chicago and made The Bakery a popular destination. The individual beef Wellington was particularly famous and heavily cited on Chicago diners' must-try lists. Within its first year of operation, more than 200 articles were written about The Bakery. Szathmary was a prolific writer. His first book, "The Chef's Secret Cook Book: A Practical, Personal Invitation to Classic Cookery," published in 1971. From 1978 to 1987, he wrote a Thursday column for the Chicago Sunday Times, as well as a "Chef Louis" column for a wire service that appeared in over one hundred newspapers. He served as an editor for the 1973 edition of the 15-volume "Cookery Americana" series, in addition to writing several of his own cookbooks.
1965. It wasn’t until the first gyros in America were made in Chicago's Greektown around 1965 that the Greeks began to have notoriety in Chicago. When gyros cones and vertical rotisserie broilers were introduced that gyros sandwiches became wildly popular. Gyros and broilers could be found a many hot dog stands. George Apostolou says he served the first gyros in the United States in the Parkview Restaurant in Chicago in 1965. Nine years later, Apostolou opened Central Gyros Wholesale, a 3,000-square-foot manufacturing plant producing both gyros cones and vertical rotisserie broilers.
1971. Rich Melman and friend Jerry A. Orzoff opened R.J. Grunts [(R)ich & (J)erry Grunts] in the Lincoln Park West neighborhood. This first restaurant became the foundation of Melman becoming a restaurateur building a culinary empire of unique restaurants under the corporate name, "Lettuce Entertain You."
1971. The Greek Islands Restaurant in Chicago was established by Anastasios Koloios. They're located at 200 South Halsted Street in the Greektown neighborhood to the immediate west of downtown Chicago. A group of friends realized the American dream that many immigrants had — they opened their own business after many years of hard work. From humble beginnings, they grew their business into the most popular Greek restaurant in the United States. Since 1971, the same owners continue with the founding principles of serving great food, flawless service, and giving you your money's worth. They order some products directly from Greece. Orders include the highest quality extra virgin olive oil, superior wines, the best cheeses, including traditional Greek feta cheese, fresh-caught seafood, spices & herbs, and olives.
1979. French cuisine still rules Chicago dining. In Chicago Magazine's reader's survey, five of the best seven restaurants are French; L'Escargot, La Fontaine, Le Francais, Jovan, Tango, The Berghoff, and the Cape Cod Room. Of the 14 in the second tier, eight are French or French-inspired.
1979. Two farmer's markets open, one in the Lincoln Square neighborhood and the other in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, the first in Chicago since the 19th Century. Over the next 20 years, the number will grow as city dwellers discover that fresh, locally grown produce is better than imported produce from grocery stores.
1980. The first Taste of Chicago was held for only a single day on the Fourth of July, 1980. Restaurateur Arnie Morton proposed a festival devoted to small portions from the city’s restaurants and food vendors. Mayor Jane Byrne and the City of Chicago bit on the idea. The first annual Taste of Chicago took up the three city blocks just north of the Michigan Avenue Bridge. Nearly 250,000 people showed up that day to sample hot dogs, ribs, and Italian ice or to toss back a few cold ones in the hot sun. The turnout so dramatically exceeded the projected attendance numbers that the “Nation’s biggest picnic” was moved to Grant Park the following year. Taste of Chicago Logo Items.
1980. Eli Schulman was born in 1910 on the West Side of Chicago. In 1940, he started his first venture in the restaurant business with a popular coffee shop called Eli's Ogden Huddle and followed it with Eli's Stage Delicatessen. Eli's Cheesecake Company became its own company soon after the first Taste of Chicago in 1980 with a small North Side plant. Eli Schulman's son, Marc Schulman, became president of Eli's Cheesecake in 1984 and has been running the company since his father's death on May 8, 1988. In 1996, Eli's Cheesecake Company moved to its current location at 6701 W. Forest Preserve Drive in Chicago. The new location was called "Eli's Cheesecake World," which includes a 62,000-square-foot state-of-the-art antique-style bakery, bakery cafe, and corporate offices. Eli's Cheesecake products get shipped to customers all over the U.S. and to stores internationally.
|Marc Schulman, President|
1987. Charles Trotter (1959–2013) was an American chef and restaurateur. Born in Wilmette, Illinois, and attended New Trier High School. His most well-known restaurant, Charlie Trotter's, was open in Chicago from 1987 to 2012. At just 28 years old, Trotter opened his eponymous Chicago restaurant Charlie Trotter's, 816 West Armitage Avenue in Chicago, in 1987. For over two decades, Trotter's has been considered one of the finest dining establishments in not only the country but also the world. Charlie Trotter's close in August 2012. His personal, modern interpretation of cuisine—one that increasingly blends Asian elements—set the bar for creative fine dining in America, paving the way for many of today’s best restaurants and chefs. The restaurant has received countless accolades, including eight James Beard Awards and induction into the Relais & Châteaux.
FURTHER READING: 41 Chicago-Style foods explained with pictures.
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.