I have fully participated in the modern food trends of the holiday season. I’ve read the cookbooks, watched the baking shows and the Christmas menu videos, and have eaten my share of it all.  It’s as if we take all the richest, sweetest, most decadent foods we’ve ever experienced and cram them into the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day, with nary a memory our first round of decadence at Thanksgiving time. Then we wake out of our stupor on January 2nd, stock up on vegetables, and wonder how we possibly survived on sugar and butter for so long. It’s a wonderful cycle.

I recently ran across an article written in 1918 on Christmas menu planning. One hundred years ago, when the article was first published, World War I had ended just weeks before.

 

The war is won! Reconstruction is here! We are to have a simple Christmas this year, for every member of the big Good Housekeeping family is shouldering her burden of war support with man power at the front and money power at home…and the day will prove the richer for its very simplicity.

Here is the suggested Christmas Day menu:

Breakfast:

Grapefruit

Rye Pancakes

Margarine

Coffee

Dinner:

Roast Goose

Hominy Chutney Stuffing

Celery

Sweet Pickles

Potatoes on the Half Shell

Creamed Onions

Yellow Winter Squash

Dressed Lettuce

Cheese Straws

Date and Nut Pudding

Company Coffee Cake

Supper:

Goose Giblet and Egg Sandwiches

Applesauce

Fig Cookies

Tea

It looks elaborate at first glance, but it’s actually much simpler than many of our modern day feasts. And so healthy! As for the rest of the Christmas week menus, they’re even simpler.  Here is the recommended menu for the day after Christmas:

Breakfast:

Hominy with Raisins

Top Milk

Creamed Dried Beef

Toast

Coffee

Luncheon:

Combination Soup

Crackers

Bread and Margarine

Orange, Banana, and Coconut Jelly

Tea

Dinner:

Tomato Soup

Cold Sliced Goose

Roasted Potatoes

Creamed Cauliflower

Bread and Margarine

Cocoa

Cornstarch Pudding

The menus contain barely any wheat, butter and sweets, all of which had been rationed to provide more for the troops. In its place was an abundance of vegetables. If these menus are indicative of the World War I era, there’s hardly a cause for overindulgence anywhere.  

This is just a fun post to show the difference 100 years can make, and how truly prosperous we really are.  (And from now on, baked potatoes in this home will be referred to as “potatoes on the half shell.” How very elegant.)

3 thoughts on “Victory Menus for Christmas Week, 1918

  1. These modest menus sound tasty! I wonder if they were allowed second helpings. I imagine growing boys would be very hungry. Photos of that era reveal slim, almost gaunt Americans.

    1. You are so right about the slim/gaunt Americans. In reading my collection of old magazines, I have noticed over and over how concerned adults were about their underweight children. There were actually programs in the schools to encourage healthy eating so that the students would gain weight! Imagine that nowadays.

      1. My mother and her sisters were given creamy milk at school At lunch eveyday because of that program. My grandmother was mortified – but had to accept the “charity”.

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