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O Street Meat: 1925

O Street Meat: 1925

Washington, D.C., circa 1925. "D.D. Collins." Meat counter at the O Street Market, 7th and O streets N.W. National Photo Company glass negative. View full size.


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Sadly gutted

The O Street Market is sadly just a shell now -- it collapsed during a 2003 snowstorm:

Lard of the Flies

It really bothers me how much meat is just sitting around on counters, unwrapped, or hanging from the ceiling on hooks. Think of what the place must have been like in the summer, swarming with gnats and flies!

"Unsanitary" is a bit of an understatement. Unless the products sold very fast, there was a real possibility of people getting sick from eating them. Then, they might have also taken the meat home and put it in iceboxes, which didn't keep it nearly as cold as electric refrigerators do, and required constant replenishment of ice (the Three Stooges and W.C. Fields both filmed hilarious routines about this problem, in the Stooges' "An Ache In Every Stake" and Fields's "The Dentist.")

Food sanitation appears to be a fairly recent invention... it didn't really arrive until most homes and businesses were finally wired for electricity.

[The case in front is refrigerated. As for the hams, cured (smoked/salted) meats don't need to be refrigerated -- which is after all why curing was invented. Hams are still displayed this way at butcher shops. - Dave]

Butcher Shops

You want good looking meat like this? Look for small butcher shops and meat markets -- and even ethnic delis. Here in Spokane, we have several good ones. One meat market has been in operation over 100 years, another over 50. and there are a couple of Italian delis that import dry-cured meats and/or produce their own.

One thing to look for: Does the shop smoke/cure their own meats?

If so, you are in for a treat. There is nothing in the world like locally made frankfurters sausages or dry-cured bacon. They will be, on the whole, leaner and better tasting than anything you will find in a national chain grocery store. It may cost more per pound, but it is worth it when a pound of good bacon will yield 14 ounces bacon and 2 ounces cooked-out fat.

Fat Equals Flavor

I have to agree with the writer of "Fat, glorious fat," even though in today's world few will get to discover that. In fact, in the olden days, if a cut of meat was too lean, a good chef would "lard" it by inserting strips of fat poked into holes in the flesh, sort of like garlic cloves in pork roast, or even "weaving" it through the length of the roast. That's why prime rib tastes so scrumptious and irresistible (it is naturally "marbled") as did freshly churned, unsalted, home made "tub butter." The downside is that lots of people dropped dead by 60.

Can you imagine???

Do you think there's a place somewhere selling meat today that looks like this?

[Try your local charcuterie. - Dave]

Fire up the grill

I'll take a thick slice of that ribeye in front of the Toledo scale, thank you! Yumm-yum...

Fat, glorious Fat!

I'll take a half case of that lard, and a pork shoulder thank you. Today's meats are so anemically lean, this photo makes me long for a proper butcher nearby.

Hams, Bacon & Lard

Special Offerings for Thanksgiving

At O Street Market

Open To-day from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Everything for the Thanksgiving dinner, and at the lowest prices, too. We want the Washington public to know what the marketing people of our section already know, that at this place they can obtain the very best of everything at a price that is an actual saving over that charged at the other markets. Come down to-day and see how far your money will go. O Street Market, corner of Seventh and O streets northwest. Purchases delivered to any part of the city at no additional charge.

J.B. Robinson, Stands 72 and 73. Mr. Robinson has purchased the double stand formerly occupied by A. Loffler, and will be pleased to see his old friends and welcome the new. Full like of Loffler's Famous Smoked Sausage, "The Best on Earth."

O.M. Link, Stand 74.
Best place for turkeys and poultry.

H.J. Ruppert, Stands 44 and 45.
Fresh lamb, veal, and beef. Sausage

L.C. Morison, Stands 70 and 71.
Fruits and vegetables for holidays.

D.D. Collins, Stands 94 and 95.
Hams, bacon, lard, cooked meats, &c.

Wm. S. Moreland, Stands 26 and 27.
Foreign and domestic fruits, Fresh vegetables.

F.L. Bubb, stands 6 and 7.
Fancy groceries and delicacies

W.S. Detwiler, Stand 10.
Dealer in fine butter and eggs.

Washington Post, Nov 29, 1905

Together Again

Gerald McRaney and William Frawley (with his thumb on the scale)!

The purveyor is beefier than that ribeye.


Mmm, mmm, pure lard! Nothing like pure lard to get your heart started!


Sawdust on the floor and the No Springs Toledo scale....

That brings back memories of going to the butcher shop with my father in the early 50s.

The Carnivorous Phantom

"I want to complain about that kielbasa I bought from you guys... eating it turned me transparent!"

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