The roaring twenties will no doubt be a theme of many a summer party this year as The Great Gatsby film release has everyone reconnecting with this classic novel that embodies one of the most fabulous periods in our history. When most people think of the 1920s in the U.S. they think of the flappers, Prohibition, gangsters, and jazz. What people often overlook are the great advancements in home cooking and recipe development during this period.
The availability of “sliced bread,” refrigerators, and other convenience foods that are dogged today helped (mostly) women spend 44 hours each week in their kitchens preparing meals. By 1965, women were only spending 25.7 hours per week cooking, and research in 2010 revealed women today spend only 13 hours each week on all household chores.
If you plan on hosting a Great Gatsby party this summer, you’ll want to dress the part of course, but the food can play a major role in pulling together the theme. If healthy is your goal, stick to the recipes we’re sharing. But if authenticity is most important, you’ll appreciate the homemade, healthified versions of many of these processed foods that are still popular today.
Alcohol was banned for much of the 1920s during a period known as Prohibition, but that didn’t keep the booze from flowing. The Old Fashion, a tart whiskey-based cocktail, was a creation of this decade that we still raise a glass to today. Guests will easily celebrate with this jazzed up version with fresh blueberries and a Truvia simple syrup.
Said to be a creation of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel during the roaring twenties, this rich cake is having a bit of a modern day renaissance in popularity. This lighter recipe calls for food coloring, but you could use beet juice just as they did during World War II rations a few years later. Cream cheese was wildly popular during the twenties, too, so be sure to make the frosting!
Speaking of the Waldorf, one of the most famous salads to date is the Waldorf Salad. The original, created in the late 1800s, had mayo, apples and celery. Then, in the 1920s, no doubt thanks to the greater availability of fresh produce, nuts and grapes were added. You could take or leave the chicken in our modernized version.
The advent of canned food items, like tuna, allowed for greater availability of more exotic foods to the average housewife. Combine that with the popularity of finger sandwiches during the twenties you had a recipe for success. Your Gatsby’d guests will certainly appreciate lighter fare like this as they dance the night away.
Canned food meant tins full of fruit, too, which meant pineapple was more readily available than ever. The pineapple upside down cake became a 20’s favorite. Healthy-Delicious.com created a miniature version, making this dessert party- and portion-control perfect.
Another throwback to the popularity of finger foods during this time, the deviled egg was a get-together staple. Now reserved for family BBQs and picnics, this new way to enjoy the egg was considered quite proper at the time, sometimes even dressed up with caviar.
The Baby Ruth and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups candy bars were invented in the 1920s, and are still one of the sweetest treats around. We love that Chocolate Covered Katie whipped up a homemade version that has 55 calories and zero grams of sugar (compared to 180 calories and 16 grams of sugar).
The Hostess Cupcake company started boxing up pastries in the late 1920s, and still today those little snack cakes are an American favorite. Consider making our version of the oatmeal cream sandwich cookies as a parting gift for your guests. You don’t have to tell them it’s vegan because they’ll never taste the difference.
Kool-Aid was for cool kids almost 100 years ago when this nostalgic drink mix became available. Today it’s a rather toxic mix of dyes that combine with more processed sugar for a drink no one really needs. If you want a non-alcoholic thirst quencher reminiscent of the times, give our fruit-infused waters a try, this version available at Fit Bottomed Eats.
Kids everywhere should celebrate 1923 and 1928 for the introduction of Welch’s Grape Jelly and Peter Pan Peanut Butter, respectively. Combine these two comfort foods in to one crazy-good cookie by Marisa Churchill for a guilt-free party indulgence.
Enjoy more movie-themed recipe ideas: