Friday, March 11, 2016

Important questions about salad: Answered!

One of the jokes I do in my stand-up act has to do with how often I eat salad as a meal. It also happens to be true. I eat salad all the time because it's good for me and also because I like it. Over the years, I've developed curiosity about salad and I have a lot of questions.


  • What I thought: A long time ago in a food factory (a factory that makes food), a production manager came into the marketing office and said, "This batch of new salad dressing is ready to be bottled up and shipped out. What do you want to call it?" The Marketing exec took a taste and said, "Mmm, this reminds me of being adrift in the Mediterranean Sea, surrounded by nothing but azure tides and beautiful, friendly islands as far as the eye can see. Thousands of them. Let's call it 'Thousand Island Dressing'!" The production guy said, "Seriously? That's what you get from ketchup, mayonnaise and pickle relish? Okay, it's your call.", shrugged his shoulders and went about printing labels.
  • What the internet says: "According to The Oxford Companion of Food and Drink, the dressing's name comes from the Thousand Islands region, located along the upper St. Lawrence River between the United States and Canada. Within that region, one common version of the dressing's origins says that a fishing guide's wife, Sophia LaLonde, made the condiment as part of her husband George's shore dinner. Often in this version, actress May Irwin requested the recipe after enjoying it. Irwin in turn gave it to another Thousand Islands summer resident, George Boldt, who built Boldt Castle between 1900 and 1904. Boldt, as proprietor of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, instructed the hotel's maître d'hôtel, Oscar Tschirky, to put the dressing on the menu in 1894. A 1959 National Geographic article states, "Thousand Island Dressing was reportedly developed by Boldt's chef." Despite claims that he was involved in the introduction of the salad dressing at the Waldorf, chef Tschirky did not mention the salad dressing in his famous cookbook that was published during the time period in question. When University of Wisconsin sociologist Michael Bell and his graduate students tried to untangle the origin story for Thousand Island dressing in 2010, they found that the story differed between the various villages and islands in the Thousand Islands region. They also discovered the existence of a third origin story in which the original recipe was based upon French dressing, which is supported by a recipe published in the 11th edition of the The Fannie Farmer Cookbook (1965). Unfortunately, all of the claims appeared to be based upon oral traditions without a supporting written record. A few food writers also advance the claim that the dressing was invented by chef Theo Rooms of the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago during the same time period. In any case, the food historians at the Food Timeline point out that the earliest print references to Thousand Island dressing do not appear until 1912 and that recipes for different versions of the dressing begin to show up shortly afterwards throughout the United States." - Wikipedia

  • What I thought: Same guys, same factory, same circumstances. Marketing guy: "Mmm, this reminds me of strolling along the Champs-Elysées in April with a beautiful girl on my arm as we watch the sun set. Let's call it 'French'!" "It's orange and practically glows in the dark. That reminds you of Paris in the spring time? Whatever". the production guy says while rolling his eyes and returning to the shop floor.
  • What the internet says: "French dressing is apparently an American invention. There are several different recipes for French dressing. Most of them use ketchup, oil, vinegar and paprika. A similar dressing is called Russian, which often has chili sauce as an ingredient." - 
In other words, I could be right about this one.

If you've ever bought salad dressing, you've seen the Ken's brand of dressings. It's actually Ken's Steakhouse and to say that the brand is ubiquitous (at least in the salad dressing isle) is an understatement. Especially when it comes to single-serve portions, where Ken's Steakhouse is almost always the only available option. The dressings are everywhere but I have never come across a Ken's steakhouse. In fact, this is what it looks like if you Google "Ken's Steakhouse"...
'Restaurant' is the seventh suggested option in a search for a restaurant.
  • What I thought: There is no Ken's Steakhouse. In fact, there is no Ken. Both are nothing more than made-up corporate mascots and trademarks like Grandma's Cookies or Betty Crocker, designed to make people feel good about a product that's pumped out of some institution by robots through steel tubes from vats of toxic glop and squeezed into aesthetically pleasant packaging. and not created with love, by a human, in a cozy kitchen. It's all just more bullshit from the world of Big Business, and I'm not falling for it, CyberKen 5000 or KenCo or whatever your 'real' name is. 
  • What the internet says:  "Times were hard in 1935. Millions of people were out of work, businesses were failing, but as Ken said: "We had to make a living and take care of our children". Ken and Florence Hanna opened a small restaurant in Natick on Route 135 across from Lake Cochituate. They called it the Lakeside Cafe. The customers always identified it with its owner and called it Ken's. From these small beginnings a great restaurant was born. In 1941, after five years at the Natick location and one at Sandy Burr Country Club in Wayland, Ken purchased McHale's Diner with eleven seats and one booth on Route 9 in Framingham. Route 9 was known as "Starvation Alley." Ken had a vision of prosperity for the area, now known as the "Golden Mile," one of the top retail locations in the entire country. Growth of Ken's Steak House, originally known as the 41 Cafe, began almost immediately with the addition of the Fireplace Room in 1941. It was rustic with picnic tables, benches, knotty-pine walls and a fireplace that literally heated the room in the winter. Most of Ken's regular customers followed him from the Natick location to Framingham. Ken and Florence had a sound formula for success: good quality food at reasonable prices, an honest drink and a good cup of coffee. Diners at Ken's received prompt, courteous, attentive service. Ken's salads became famous and were instrumental in the restaurant's growth. Ken's salad dressings were always prepared in accordance with the recipes of Florence Hanna and under her watchful eye. In 1945, right after World War II, Ken added a room behind the fireplace and enlarged the diner to 80 seats, now known as The Lamp Post Room. The Hickory Room with 100 seats was added in 1957 and the lounge renovated. In 1959, Cafe V opened. The Dining Room became famous for prime sirloin of beef, planked scrod and distinctive side dishes. Ken also added a French farmhouse motif for the new entrance and the expanded lounge. In the late 1940's, Florence Hanna began baking bread, onion rolls, cakes and pies in an effort to deliver the freshest, highest of quality baked goods to her customers. Today, the tradition continues, the staff at Ken's Steak House spend long hours creating a showcase of fine quality baked goods. Over the years, many of Ken and Florence's children and grandchildren have worked at Ken's Steak House. At present, the family tradition of providing superb food and excellent service is orchestrated by Ken's son Timothy and his wife Darlene. Famous entertainers, prominent athletes, political and business leaders have en joyed Ken's Steak House throughout the years. The goal of Ken and Florence Hanna was to treat all their customers as celebrities. The prime and choice cuts of beef and the fresh seafood found at Ken's have set a standard of quality that is unparalleled. Ken's Steak House has served the MetroWest area for over 68 years, and shall continue be here to serve you through the next millennium. Ken's Steakhouse has been serving Metro-West & Greater Boston since 1935. Ken and Florence Hanna had a sound formula for success: Good quality food at reasonable prices and a honest drink.  Come visit us and see what’s new at Ken’s Steakhouse" - Ken's Steakhouse official web site
Well, it is good salad dressing.


jennifer anderson said...

Go America! French dressing!

Clark Brooks said...

Go American comments! And thank you for not being a bot that sells knock-off bootleg Oakley sunglasses.