Welcome to The Food Historian's 31 Days of Halloween extravaganza. Between social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and this blog, I'll be sharing vintage Halloween content nearly every day this month!
Home Halloween parties were extremely popular during the first decades of the 20th century, and although the First World War did slow some of the celebrations, it didn't entirely stop them. On October 28, 1917, the Poughkeepsie Eagle published a full-page spread celebrating Halloween. In it, "Hints for the Hallowe'en Lunch" outlined just how locals could celebrate even with voluntary restrictions on meat, butter, white flour, and sugar. The "Jack-o'-Lantern Salad" features inexpensive salt herring and potatoes, the loaf cake features just one cup of wheat flour with brown sugar and raisins for sweetener, and the "Priscilla Pop Corn" sounds very much like caramel corn!
This lunch was likely intended for adult women rather than children, though young women may also have been the intended audience. A composed vegetable salad with sandwiches was typical fare for club women and other ladies who lunched.
I've transcribed the whole article below for your reading pleasure.
Hints for the Hallowe'en Lunch
"Table decorations for a Jack'o'Lantern Jubilee must necessarily include pumpkins big and pumpkins little. Both kinds are introduced into the attractive witches cauldron of the illustration. Its value is increased when an assortment of prophecies is put into the kettle to be distributed to the guests when the strong black coffee is served.
"Hallowe'en menus usually include the homely cider and doughnuts, chestnuts and apples which belong to other harvest home celebrations.
"The following menu is plain and substantial and just a little different.
Brown Bread Sandwiches
Fruit Loaf Cake
Priscilla Pop Corn
Cider or Coffee
"Soak salt herring in lukewarm water and drain. Cook in boiling water for fifteen minutes. When cool, separate into flakes and add an equal quantity of cold boiled potato, and one-fourth quantity of chopped, hard-boiled eggs. Mix with French dressing [ed. note: vinaigrette] and chill in refrigerator until serving time. Beat one-fourth cupful of cream until stiff and mix with it two tablespoons chopped pimentos. Mix with equal portion of mayonnaise dressing and combine with the salad. Serve on lettuce leaves, slightly flattening the heap on top to receive the "Jack-o'-Lantern," which is a small full moon face cut from a very thin slice of American cheese, the eyes marked with bits of clove, and the nose and mouth by thing strips of pimento. Brown bread sandwiches, with a filling of chopped peanuts is served with this salad.
"Raised Fruit Loaf.
"One cupful of butter, two cupsful brown sugar, two eggs, two cupsful of bread sponge, two teaspoonsful cinnamon, one teaspoonful clove, two teaspoonsful soda, one teasponful salt, two cupsful raisins, one cupful flour.
"Cream butter and add slowly, while beating constantly sugar, then add well-beaten eggs, bread sponge, spice, soda and salt, and flour mixed and sifted, and raisins, cut in half and dredged with flour. Turn into buttered and floured oblong pans and let rise two and one-half hours and then bake for an hour.
"Priscilla Popped Corn.
"Two quarts of popped corn, two tablespoonsful butter, two cupsful browned sugar, one-half cupful water, one-half teaspoonful salt. Put butter in saucepan, and when melted add sugar, salt and water. Boil sixteen minutes and pour over popped corn, coating each grain thoroughly."
What do you think? Would you like to attend such a lunch? I know I would! Even the herring potato salad sounds good and distinctly Scandinavian, although not particularly Halloween-ish. Priscilla popcorn, however, is definitely going on the to-make list!
The Food Historian blog is supported by patrons on Patreon! Patrons help keep blog posts like this one free and available to the public. Join us for awesome members-only content like free digitized cookbooks from my personal collection, e-newsletter, and even snail mail from time to time! Don't like Patreon? Leave a tip!
Sarah Wassberg Johnson has an MA in Public History from the University at Albany and studies early 20th century food history.