What We Were Eating 100 Years Ago On Thanksgiving

Tina Lerno, Librarian, Digital Content Team,
children oohing at turkey coming out of the oven
Thanksgiving turkey. November 21, 1956. Herald Examiner Collection.

Thanksgiving in Los Angeles 100 years ago was an interesting affair. World War I was over, but troops were still stationed overseas, and most institutions continued to support the effort either by rationing food, or sending supplies “Over There.”

Los Angeles Times (1886-1922); Nov 28, 1919
Los Angeles Times Historical Archive (1886-1922); Nov 28, 1919
newspaper from 1917 with Thanksgiving pictures
Los Angeles Times Historical Archive (1886-1922)

One Los Angeles Times article states, “Feast Day Dinner To Be Expensive. Lettuce, cauliflower, celery and cranberries, the vegetables most in demand for the Thanksgiving table, will remain at their present high levels, and some of them may go higher. Cauliflower is as high as 20 cents per head, retail!”

menu from the Casino Cafe
Casino Cafe Menu, Santa Monica Ca., 1914. Los Angeles Public Library Menu Collection

Appetizers and side dishes have changed in the last century, some from rationing and some just taste preferences. One article from November 1917 gives suggestions for the menu that include cream of celery soup, with a vegetarian option of grapefruit with Maraschino cheese. Interesting choices.

100 Thanksgiving menu
Los Angeles Times Historical Archive (1886-1922)

Pumpkin Pie was still a staple dessert at the Thanksgiving Meal, although "housewives" were cautioned not to make too many as the cost would be too high.

woman wearing an apron carving a pumpink
Los Angeles Times Historical Archive, Nov. 26, 1911; colored by the author

Though the library will be closed on Thursday and Friday, our free and fabulous e-media collection will be available, whether it's to help you cook a meal, listen to some music, or enjoy a break from your regular activities.

If you would like to learn more about Los Angeles traditions of the past, browse through our menu and photo collections, and have your library card handy to search through the Los Angeles Times Historical Archive.

Apparently 100 years ago, the library was open on Thanksgiving!

newspaper article on thanksgiving

Los Angeles Times Historical Archive (1886-1922)