“Lunching by the Roadside” by Amy W. Osgood, 1923


“Food for the inner man is just as important on a motor journey as agreeable traveling companions.  And stopping at a hotel for meals often consumes more time than one feels can be deducted from the journey.  Then it is that the roadside meal proves its worth.  It does not take long; it is satisfying, easy to eat, and attractive.

Of course bacon cooked in the open air, coffee made while you wait, and corn roasted on the ear in the embers of a bonfire are alluring, but they are time consuming, and it you wish to appear neat at the end of the journey, are not always recommended.  But there are roadside meals which are easy to prepare and easier to serve than a meal at home, for they are what one might call “one-plate roadside meals” as the following menu will suggest: roast chicken, potato ships, jelly sandwiches, egg sandwiches, fruit or a combination salad, pickles, olives, cake or cookies, fruit, cheese and coffee.  The coffee comes from the thermos bottle who’s twin carries ice water.  A quart-size, paraffin-treated, covered container, such as oysters are sold in, is used for the cream bottle, chopped ice surrounding the bottle.  A covered jar is used for the loaf sugar.  For each person, a paper fork, spoon, heavy paraffin drinking cup, and two paper napkins are provided.


1920’s Picnic/Camping sets

Before leaving home, each individual’s roadside meal is prepared on a plate, as follows: In half-pint paraffin cartons, having covers, arrange individual fruit salads, lining the cartons first with lettuce, filling with fruit salad, and placing a crisp leaf of lettuce on top before adjusting the cover.  Place one of these filled cartons in the center of the each large sized paper plate.  Cut the roast chicken, which has been previously cooked in order to be cold, into convenient pieces for eating and divide into the desired number of portions.  Wrap each portion in paraffin paper, and place one on each plate.  Wrap individual serving of potato chips in paraffin paper, and also arrange on each plate.  Wrap three or four olives and sweet or sour pickles in individual packages for each plate.  Wrap the sandwiches in paraffin paper and arrange on each plate.

When all the food has been placed on the plates, lay each plate in the center of a large paper napkin, and place another paper napkin over the top of it, twisting the opposite corners and thus entirely enclosing the plate.  Then pack these in a large basket, one plate on top of another, the salad container acting as a base for each plate place above it.  Wrap cookies and cake in individual parcels and serve when desired.  At meal time, drive the car under a tree, or up a side road, and it can instantly be converted into a dining room.  Trays, carried in a denim bag and packed under the basket, are passed, and the plates are served on them.  In this way, everyone is enjoying his luncheon in a very few minutes.”

By Amy W. Osgood, Good Housekeeping. Volume 77, Number 2. August, 1923



4 thoughts on ““Lunching by the Roadside” by Amy W. Osgood, 1923

  1. Terry

    That is so cool!! Taking picnics on the road in the new car culture of the 20’s! Interesting that paper cups and wax paper were originally called paraffin cups and paraffin paper. Makes sense.
    Nice times!

  2. A little off topic, but I have a book rec for you. It’s on project gutenburg and it’s called “A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband with Bettina’s Best Recipes” (http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/gutbook/lookup?num=42868 )

    It’s a cookbook, BUT, every chapter is a cute little bit of story, and then the menu for the meal that night, and the recipes needed to cook said menu. What I like about it: it’s published in 1917, so while there are some convenience foods (like frozen or canned vegetables), it’s not chock full of shortening and jarred sauces. The foods from then are simple and tasty, made with a minimum of fuss. If you had to get 3 meals on the table from scratch every day, you usually didn’t waste time!

    I’ve been rereading it for the menu planning. I’m going to try to use her menus, because I am TERRIBLE at menu planning.

    And the story is cute as heck. It’s a newly married couple in their first year of marriage, and all of their friends. It’s a little bit of “why must men be so exasperating?” solid sense of gender roles, but that’s to be expected from a book 100 years old.

    Anyway, I hope you get a chance to read it — I think you’d really enjoy it!

    — Tegan

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