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Home Cooking: 1910

Circa 1910. Mixing up a big batch of "Salmonella Surprise." Scanned from the original 4x5 inch glass negative. View full size.

Circa 1910. Mixing up a big batch of "Salmonella Surprise." Scanned from the original 4x5 inch glass negative. View full size.

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Looking at that bird

I realized that I have never before seen a turkey or chicken that had not been engineered for higher meat content. The real deal looks strange to my 21st century eyes.

Pin Feathers, pt. 2

I can remember when I was very young, Mama would get a whole chicken (roaster?) and sometimes she would singe off the pin feathers with a match. It always looked to be pretty exciting, but I never got to help.

Pin Feathers

When I was growing up in the 1930s my sister and I fought over who got to pluck the turkey's "pin feathers." This was the name commonly used for the small bony part of the feather that was left after yanking out the rest of the feather. Turkeys are no fun any more! Nothing to pluck.

Now that's celery!

You don't get celery with leaves like that anymore. Look how full it looks, like a bouquet!

That canister

The tall, lidded canister is the type often used for storing lard and then reused for lunch pails.


El tinte oscuro de las frutas se debe a la película no demasiado "pacromática" de entonces. No sabría decir si la de la derecha es una naranja. Muy esférica y con otra textura de piel.

Makin's of a holiday dinner

I agree with Grandmother that it is a turkey on the table, plus the fixin's for chestnut stuffing - the apples, chestnuts and celery are the giveaways. The tightly sealed canister probably contained the flour for quick bread with the meal, and the reason for the baking powder. Maybe a bit of chocolate cherry layer cake, with buttercream icing, too.

Grandma's right

Grandma's right, it is a turkey. The bird had brown (or other colour) feathers; when they are plucked, a little spot of pigment is left. It isn't bruising or dirt. Modern commercial poultry all have white feathers, because people find the specks left by dark feathers unappetizing.

Baker's Chocolate

It took me a while, but I finally figured out the carton from Dorchester, Mass. It's Baker's Chocolate! (OK, it was my wife that calculated that the shape of the carton indicated it is something molded, hence the sloped sides for easy release from the mold.)


On the table it is possible to see a can of Royal Yeast. Interesting enough, this product is still sold in a card can virtually identical to the one in this photo...


83 year old grandma here. That's a turkey. Too big to be a chicken.

A Special Occasion

There was the old political saying around this time, "A chicken in every pot." It is my understanding that fresh poultry was expensive and not the average meal. If you were in the country, you had chickens to lay eggs, and not so much to eat a few times a week. If you were in the city, the lack of refrigeration made it difficult to supply the masses with fresh poultry. Most people in the major coastal cities probably ate a lot more seafood than they did fresh meat. A chicken in every pot would have been a promise to really raise the standard of living. I bet in this image, she is preparing a holiday meal.

Fair Flower

Chicken or turkey, the bird may be a bit scrawny, but that giant chrysanthemum in the vase is gorgeous. And the cook ain't so bad either.

Photographer, Anyone?

Does anyone know the identity of the photographer?


That flat-topped gadget on the left side of the stove was the toaster of the time, made of sheet metal. My mother had one. It sat on a lighted gas burner and toasted the bread, which rested on edge and leaned to the center, by radiant energy. It could only toast one side at a time. They are still avcailable for camping.

Art Photo

Looking at this photo, I wonder if it's meant to be a photographic study - the "artistic" placement of the foreground objects and mixed textures is a dead give away.

No doubt, because of the un-casual nature of cooking and photography in 1910, the husband/brother saw this chicken-cooking as an opportunity to finagle a few minutes of lens time from the wife/sister who was going to fix dinner anyway.

For her part, she saw the session as a chance to sit down for a few minutes, and best of all, get him out of the kitchen for the rest of the day while he messes with the twenty step development process in the cellar.

What, no cooks?

To me, this seems to be a very well organized and clean kitchen. It's a posed picture, I think, and the positioning of the nut bowl, the apples, the celery, the cherry preserves, and all the other things is very thought-out. Everything is within reach and positioned just so. Also, remember the pictures of ducks, turkeys, chickens, opossums, etc. we've seen in other pictures, hanging in the street. This is what people ate then. I wouldn't hesitate to eat anything prepared in this organized, clean kitchen.


The bird's probably a turkey, and spotted with bruises from having its feathers stripped off by the aforementioned young lady, who probably caught and killed it as well.

Notice the Royal Baking Powder canister has remained unchanged.

Mmmmm Salmonella

My mother used to make Salmonella cakes and macaroni and cheese on Fridays.

Looks What's Cooking

The clothes iron and toaster in the background, on the stove, heated by the gas flame, and had to be watched, there were no thermostats. The first electric irons were sold c 1903. The first iron sole plate that was hotter at the tip and cooler in the center was known as a "Hotpoint." Which became a recognizable brand and is still in existence. The first electric toaster made in the USA came on the market in 1909, like its gas heated counterpart, it toasted only one side at a time and had to be watched while in operation, it was made by GE, the company that owns Hotpoint. In 1909 the first popup toaster arrived, but was sold mainly to the restaurant trade.

Makes Me Hungry!

I wouldn't hesitate to eat this lady's cooking. The chicken is probably a free range bird that has been freshly slaughtered and plucked. You can see all the fixings for dessert; cherries, hazelnuts, a bar of Bakers Chocolate, gelatin and baking powder. I don't think the wall is cracked. It looks to me like the wallpaper is torn. BTW, of the four packaged food items shown, only Liberty Cherries are no longer sold.

Where's Chef Curly?

This reminds me of one of those Three Stooges episodes where the chicken being served for dinner would get up from the plate and dance on the table... on puppet strings. But this "boid" looks like it might not need the strings! Yeucchh!

Product Placement

Plymouth Rock Gelatine paid plenty for this picture. Lovely flower, brought to you by Mother Nature, the queen of placement ads.

Ugly all around

I don't know which is uglier: the bird or that lady's housecoat. Maybe the phosphated gelatin will make 'em all better.

This is cool

The spotted chicken is gross, but that flower vase is nice.

Preventive Measures

Perhaps she is mixing up a nice batch of Hekipi spackle to repair the crack in the wall before cookin' the bird!
First things first!


Yowser. That's a wicked crack in the wall. I haven't decided if she's reading a recipe or penning a suicide note.


October, maybe, from the look of things.


I've seen rubber chickens that looked more appetizing than that poor bird.

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