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Brief Histories

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The Finger Bowl Is an Old Dining Etiquette Tradition That Could Soon Disappear

The tableside rinse has links to an enduring caste system and social hierarchy. So would it be better if it went away for good?

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Looking for Blood

Blood does not factor into what’s generalized as "American food" — but why?

The Sweet Pleasures of the Asian Fruit Cream Cake

How a delightful combination of sponge cake, whipped topping, and fresh fruit ended up on dessert menus all over Asia and the United States

It Starts With the Roux 

Behind every bowl of gumbo, there’s a complex history

When Did America Turn on the Appletini?

The origin story of an essential ’90s cocktail reveals a simpler, sickly-sweeter time in American drinking culture

The Rise of ‘Hangry’: A Modern Word for a Timeless Feeling

From Etsy signs to Snickers ad campaigns, ‘hangry’ is the word (and feeling) we can’t get away from

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How the Corn Dog Became the Must-Eat Food of American Presidential Candidates

A long time favorite of state fairs, the corn dog represents Americana and, quite possibly, a way to the White House

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Beef on Weck Is Buffalo’s Best Contribution to the Culinary World

The roast beef sandwich predates Buffalo wings as a specialty in upstate New York

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The Frappuccino as Rite of Passage

For many tweens and teens from the ’90s and beyond, the Starbucks Frapp was a gateway into what felt like adulthood

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When Did Drag Brunch Get So Normie?

Historically, drag has thrived in queer, underground nightclubs. And then brunch brought it to light.

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Where Did the All-Too-Familiar Chinese Zodiac Placemat Come From?

Chances are if you’ve been to a Chinese restaurant in America, you’ve seen one of these

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Every Gingerbread Tells a Story

The baked goods play a crucial role in Helen Oyeyemi’s novel of the same name — and in countless narratives across history

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All Out of Luck

New Chinese restaurants that happen to be named Lucky Cricket, Lucky Cat, and Lucky Lee’s lead to accusations of cultural appropriation

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How the Gooey, Cheesy Hot Brown Became a Kentucky Icon

The open-faced sandwich has inspired endless imitators, but people still flock to Louisville’s Brown Hotel to try the original

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Red Beer Is the Midwest’s Cult-Favorite Morning Beverage

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How Silicon Valley’s Favorite Chinese-American Restaurant Was Born

Since opening in 1970, Chef Chu’s has played host to tech elites and numerous heads of state

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Almond Boneless Chicken Is a Chinese-American Cult Favorite

Why Michigan is obsessed with this fried-chicken-with-gravy dish

A Brief History of McDonald’s Apple Pie

The sweet pastry has been updated numerous times over the years, from fried to baked to now with less sugar

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A Brief History of Drinking Cocktails From Coconuts

A Brief History of British Royal Wedding Cakes

How Restaurants Helped American Women Get the Vote

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No Bun Can Contain Indiana’s Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

The Hoosier State’s most beloved dish, explained

The King Cake Tradition, Explained

The King Cake Tradition, Explained

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How Harry & David Cornered the Market on Pricey Mail-Order Pears

And why consumers are willing to pay a premium for its gold-wrapped fruit

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The Cult of Crystal Hot Sauce

How New Orleans’s famous cayenne condiment conquered America

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The Future of Jamaican Fusion Food Is Now

Meet the new generation of chefs putting jerk-bacon burgers and oxtail stews on the menu

The History of Steam Beer, America’s Original Craft Brew

Thanks to Ikea, Cafeterias Matter Again

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How the Garbage Plate Became a Western New York Icon

The Rochester dish is late-night drinking food at its finest

A Brief (and Biased) History of Flavor

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The Tater Tot Is American Ingenuity at Its Finest

The genius move that turned potato scraps into a frozen-food empire

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