AlmanacSquare February 20, 2014

Days Until. . .

St. Patrick’s Day 25
St. Joseph’s Day 27
Easter 39

Today’s Flavor

Many websites claim that today is National Cherry Pie Day. The problem with this is that cherries are totally out of season right now, and we must make any cherry pie with canned cherries, resulting in a cloyingly oversweet dessert. Remember when you could get a cherry pie at McDonald’s and places of that ilk? Just apple now, I think (although I’m behind on my research on fast-food fried pies.)

Great Moments In Grocery Shopping

The square-bottomed paper bag was invented by Luther Crowell of Cape Cod, who spent his spare time folding paper and attempting to make things out of it. He got a patent for his bag–which was universal in grocery stores until the plastic sack took over–in 1867. But on this day in 1872 Crowell patented the machine that made them easily and cheaply.

Beer Through History

The Yuengling Brewery opened in Pottsville, Pennsylvania on this date in 1829. It’s still in business, the oldest American brewery that can make that claim. I guess that makes them a bit older than Dixie. It continued operation during Prohibition by making a nasty drink called “near-beer.” Here’s some background on the outfit, if you’re interested.

Inventions For Better Eating

A toothpick manufacturing machine was invented on this day in 1872, by two guys, J.P. Cooley and Silas Noble. One of them did the round toothpicks and the other flat. The best toothpicks are made of alder wood. Ask the next very expensive restaurant you dine in whether they have alder toothpicks. Then tell them that they should. Let’s see how long this takes to make it into the national food magazines. Most of the toothpicks made in America, by the way, are made in Maine.

Annals Of Wine Marketing

The first wine auction that we know about took place in London on this date in 1673. Amazingly, a bottle of Phelps Insignia went for almost $2,000. No, it didn’t. The wine being auctioned was entirely in barrels, and was sold as a bulk commodity.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Onion Creek is a small farming town forty-seven miles south of Dallas. It was at one time a station on the Rock Island Railroad; a main line of the Burlington Santa Fe still runs through it. The town is on the creek of the same name, which flows twenty five miles (creating two reservoirs along the way) before it flows into Chambers Creek, a tributary of the Trinity River, a few miles south of the town. This is cotton-growing country and has been for a long time. The nearest restaurants are six miles north in Ennis. Among them I like the sound of Lety’s Tortilleria Y Taqueria.

Edible Dictionary

Blue Point Oyster, n.–Oysters from the Great South Bay, south of Long Lisland, New York, particularly in the area near a small cape called Blue Point. These were among the most famous of all the oysters of New York City, but like all the rest of them they were polluted nearly out of existence. They’ve made a comeback in recent years, but chances are that any oysters you find bearing the Blue Point name are merely similar to the real thing. In fact, Blue Points are of the species crassostrea virginica, the same kind of oyster found down the Atlantic seaboard and into the Gulf of Mexico. The excellence of Blue Points comes from the cold sea water where they live.

Dining In The Movies

Today is the birthday of Sidney Poitier, whose first big movie was Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? in 1967. It’s about the problems the older generation had when their children started hanging around with people of other racial backgrounds.

Words To Eat By

“The majority of those who put together collections of verses or epigrams resemble those who eat cherries or oysters: they begin by choosing the best and end by eating everything.”–Nicolas Chamfort, an eminently quotable author from the mid-1700s.

Words To Drink By

“What’s drinking? A mere pause from thinking!”–Lord Byron.

2 Readers Commented

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  1. Mike on February 20, 2014

    Plastic bags in 1867? Is that true?

    • Tom Fitzmorris on February 20, 2014

      The sentence reads: “He got a patent for his bag–which was universal in grocery stores until the plastic sack took over–in 1867.” In other words, “He got a patent for his bag in 1867. It remained universal in grocery stores until the plastic sack took over.” Just a quirk in my writing habits, but it’s correct.

      Tastefully yours,
      Tom Fitzmorris