Mustard, marshmallows and Jell-O
The most frequently used mustard in the United States is yellow mustard, which is usually just called mustard and is so common that consumers who desire something with more zest usually have to specify that they want Dijon mustard or whichever style is preferred. In the United States a request for mustard will usually be filled with yellow mustard. Yellow mustard was invented by a Rochester, New York businessman named George French, along with his brother Francis. They called it French’s Cream Salad Mustard when they introduced it at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.
LeRoy New York is in Genesee County, south of Rochester. In 1897 a carpenter in LeRoy named Pearle Wait created a fruit flavored gelatin concoction while trying to come up with a cough medicine. His wife named the gelatin mix Jell-O. Neither Pearle nor his wife had any experience marketing a product and Wait sold the idea to a local businessman, O.F. Woodward. Woodward was an experienced producer of patent medicines but he was unable to generate much interest in Jell-O. Fed up with poor sales, Woodward sold the Jell-O business to Sam Nico, allegedly for the sum of thirty-five dollars, in 1900.
Under Nico Jell-O began to sell. By 1904 Jell-O recipes and advertising was appearing regularly in lady’s magazines. As sales increased the company reorganized and became the Jell-O Company, later merging with the Postum Cereal Company as part of the creation of General Foods (Postum was a coffee substitute beverage made from ground wheat). By 1944 Jell-O was marketed through the use of advertising which took advantage of war time rationing, and what became known as Jell-O molds created an entirely new industry.
Marshmallows weren’t invented in New York. But the first confectioner in the United States to mass produce marshmallows did so in Rochester. In 1895 Joseph Demerath began producing marshmallows at the Rochester Marshmallow Company, which he distributed to other candy makers where they could be turned into other candies. He also sold them directly to the public. The commercial process developed by Demerath for the mass production of marshmallows was not patented, and it wasn’t long before other confectioners were mass producing marshmallows. Until the Demerath process, marshmallows were expensive to make. His process made them one of the cheapest candies to manufacture.
New York is also the birthplace of the Delmonico steak, widely imitated and called by many names. It came from the restaurant of the same name, which was the first restaurant in the United States to allow patrons to order from the menu a la carte. Delmonico’s gave the gastronomic world many dishes besides the eponymous steak, including Lobster Newberg, Delmonico Potatoes, and the Wedge Salad. It was the site of the first appearance of Manhattan Clam Chowder, beginning the unending debate of which style – New England or Manhattan – is the best clam chowder.