“Gingerbread” may immediately cause visions of cookie-and-candy houses dripping with icicles made of brittle white icing, but gingerbread’s Victorian history is so much more than that. Perhaps this broader history is why the National Day Calendar says today, June 5, is National Gingerbread Day.
A vintage newspaper article, published in The New York Times on June 12, 1884, titled Oat-Meal. This prime example of Victorian sense of humor, calling for the legislature to protect children from the horrors of oatmeal, is a “slice of life” story that reveals much about life in that moment in American history.
Oatmeal took its place in the Victorian-American kitchen in the late 19th century. We’ve discovered oatmeal cookies (with and without raisins), oatmeal porridge, oatmeal in toiletries; now more late 19th-century recipes that call for oats. Delicious dishes like oatmeal puddings, oatmeal custards, oatmeal cream pie, oatmeal muffins, oatmeal biscuits (sweet), “parkin”… and a rather scary option– Oatmeal Soup.
We’ve seen recipes for oatmeal cookies (with and without raisins), oatmeal in Victorian bath water (to soften and whiten skin), and more. Who knew that Victorian Oatmeal Porridge Recipes could require significantly more instructions (and a dedicated saucepan!) than any other vintage recipe?
In this Blog Article Series about Victorians and Oatmeal, we’ve seen cookies (both with and without raisins), Victorian attitudes about oats for food (rather than fodder), and vintage newspaper clippings highlighting the attitudes of some American Victorians. This article is still about oatmeal–and Victorian woman using those rolled oats in bath sachets to soften the skin. See the Victorian-American bath sachet recipe(s).
Some Victorians spoke of oatmeal as if it were a mainstay of their diets. Others claimed oats were fit only for animal fodder or for use in baths to soften skin… but food? Ugh. No. Why were beliefs so polarized? Why did Victorian-Americans have an aversion to oats?
In support of my other articles about oatmeal in the recipes of Victorian-era Americans, this post contains a lengthy vintage newspaper clipping, an article titled “Oatmeal for Food”. Originally published: Green-Mountain Freeman of Montpelier, Vermont on May 21, 1873. Included as a careful transcription, maintaining formatting, spelling, punctuation, paragraph length, and more. Also includes the digital images from the nearly 150-year old newspaper.
Near the year 1900, Victorian-American cooks finally started combining raisins (which they had plenty of uses for) and oatmeal–a grain they’d only recently begun accepting. This article contains several vintage recipes from nineteenth century newspapers: raisins in other late-Victorian recipes, and at last–chopped raisins IN oatmeal cookies.
Today, April 30, is Oatmeal Cookie Day!
Who knew?! “Everyone” online claims Fannie Merritt Farmer’s oatmeal cookie recipe (1896) to be the FIRST published (FALSE!)… but I found fourteen Victorian-American recipes in vintage cook books and newspapers beginning in 1883. How did history (mistakenly) favor Fannie?
I not only READ Dan Janal’s title: Write Your Book in a Flash — I used it as a guide while I wrote a nonfiction participant’s manual. My Goodreads review is linked within.