Fourth of July Party and Menus, 1916

Fourth of July Party in 1916

Here in the United States we are fast approaching the Fourth of July.

This holiday commemorates the United States’ adoption of the Declaration of Independence and our independence from England, but it also serves as a reason to celebrate, with summer parties, barbecues, and fireworks. Even back in 1916, this holiday was a big day to gather together your friends and family for some patriotic fun.

What I am bringing to you today are two separate pages from the July 1916 issue of the Woman’s Home Companion. I will start with the lunch menu.

A Fourth of July Luncheon, 1916

In the short article “A Fourth of July Luncheon – to be served buffet style or on the porch,” readers are provided with a summery menu of food. Not all of the recipes are provided, however, because it is assumed that readers would know exactly how to prepare the other items. Unfortunately, with the passage of almost 100 years, some of those items are no longer very well known.

For instance, I don’t know what “Imperial Sticks,” “Raspberry Shrub Punch,” or “Horseradish Graham Sandwiches” really are (although I admit I am a bit fearful that last item is literally referring to horseradish on graham crackers – which if it is, ugh!)

But recipes are in fact provided for “Clam Bisque, Pimiento Cream,” “Crab Meat, Indienne,” “Fourth of July Pudding,” “We Three Sherbet,” “Blueberry Molasses Puffs,” and “Raspberry Cream Frappe.” So if any of these old fashioned recipes strike your fancy, here is your chance to give them a try this year!

The second article is more about party games and decorations than about food. It is called “The Fourth of July House-Party – two evening entertainments planned for the summer hostess.”

Fourth of July House-Party, 1916

This article has a special insert with ideas on how to decorate. I love the suggestion of hanging rows of red lanterns from wires on the porch, and candy boxes shaped like cannons to make DIY candle-holders (although admittedly these might be hard to find today). The article also suggests making a long table for the party by simply resting planks of wood on carpenter’s horses and then covering the table with bright red crepe paper held on by thumbtacks.

The games and menu sound much less appealing, but then again, it was a different time. The games range from ideas like picking up vegetables from the floor with a spoon and depositing them into a box, to carrying very full glasses of water on a tray while racing around and sitting down and putting down and picking up the tray. (This water game is for “gentlemen only”, however and the prizewinner gets a “diamond pin” – meaning “a dime and a safety pin”!) As you can probably tell by now, these games might not go over so well at your next party.

Finally, we are provided with another very short menu -

“jellied consomme in cups, fried chicken a la Maryland, hot tea biscuit, whole tomato salad, iced coffee with whipped cream, strawberries and cream, and fresh gingerbread.”

The only recipe we are given is for the tomato salad, and it’s another rather unappetizing choice – simply scoop out the tomatoes, and fill with chopped nuts and mayonnaise.

So, in summary, these articles seem to contain both good ideas that we could adopt today, along with some that definitely seem to be products of their time. However, if you pick and choose from the choices we are given, you can actually throw a true, vintage, old-fashioned Independence Day party, and have a blast!

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