What’s on the menu?: Menus of Ohio’s Hotels in the early 1900s

As the holiday season approaches many of us start thinking a little more about what we are going to eat or serve and about what our families served in the past. Foods are a large part of our holiday traditions and many of us still think about what to put on the menu. Either we chose traditional menus or decide to incorporate new items. So if you are working on a menu, why not turn to the professionals? In the early twentieth century, hotels in Ohio paired foods that their guests found delicious. Some of the options might be more tantalizing to 1910 tastes than 21st century tastes. Nonetheless, some of these menu items are still favorites.

In 1902, at the Forest City House Hotel in Cleveland, Ohio, you could enjoy an impressive breakfast. It included your choice of fish, eggs, meat, or even oysters. Some of the choices included broiled mackerel, tenderloin steak, calf’s liver and bacon, and tripe in batter. More familiar items included shredded wheat biscuits, buckwheat cakes, and omelets. Chittenden Hotel’s morning meal menu, in Columbus, Ohio, also featured the broiled mackerel and calf’s liver, as well as a few different options like broiled Philadelphia squab on toast and Boston baked pork and beans.

Inside of the Chittenden Hotel, Columbus, Ohio

Supper at Forest City House began with cold or hot consomme. You could then dine on salt mackerel, stewed kidneys with mushrooms, or a choice of various broiled meats. In 1907 at the Hotel Conrad in Massillon, Ohio, dinner began with a German potato soup and some sweet pickles followed by boiled corned beef and cabbage, fricassee of lamb with green peas, or calves’ brains and scrambled eggs. Dessert included custard pie, cherry pie, and rice pudding with cream sauce.

For those who wanted to dine out for Thanksgiving in 1910, the Chittenden Hotel offered a sumptuous and filling Thanksgiving dinner. The dinner began with little neck clams, green turtle moderne, bouchee of oyster crabs neptune, or broiled Spanish mackerel. Turkey was on the menu, as was roast suckling pig fermiere, and saddle of venison a l’huntress. For dessert English plum pudding with brandy sauce, mince pie, pumpkin pie, and fruitcake were all up for grabs. Of course, there is nothing like Roquefort cheese and toasted crackers to finish off the spectacular meal. To accompany the dinner the Chittenden also included a musical program performed by W. H. Claspill’s Orchestra.

Front cover of Chittenden Hotel Thanksgiving dinner menu, 1910Front cover of the Chittenden Hotel Thanksgiving dinner menu, 1910

Inside of Chittenden Hotel Thanksgiving dinner menu, 1910

Inside of the Chittenden Hotel Thanksgiving dinner menu, 1910

Of course no menu is complete without something to drink. Elizabeth Wetzel, the chief dietician at the Parmly House Hotel in Painesville, Ohio circa 1920s-30s, kept a journal of recipes. She also kept clippings of recipes she thought worthy enough to serve to her guests. For egg nog lovers Wetzel has a cocoa variation of the holiday favorite, included below:

Cocoa egg nog: Beat the white of 1 egg until stiff and add gradually while beating constantly 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 of cocoa and a few grains of salt. Add to ½ the mixture while beating constantly ¾ cup of cold milk turn into glass and pile remainder of liquid on top.

What’s on your holiday menu?

For more information on these and other menus at the Ohio History Connection visit the Ohio History Connections’ Manuscript/Audiovisual and State Archives catalog.

Adria Seccareccia, Processing Assistant


VFM 5162, Hotel Conrad, 1907

VFM 5178, Forest City House, 1902

VFM 5179, Forest City House, 1902

VFM 6169, Chittenden Hotel, 1910

VFM 5160, Chittenden Hotel, 1901

VOL 1571, Mrs. Elmer [Elizabeth] Wetzel, circa 1920s-1930s

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