Thursday, January 9, 2014

Food Products at Chicago World's Fair 1893

I found this tidbit while researching for the history of canned soups. I know in the 1890's Campbell's produced condensed soups and I've found "canned soup" mentioned as early as 1870 but I believe the item came into use in stores much earlier than that. However, there is no question I need to do more research on "Canned Soups." I'll share this tidbit I found very interesting with regard to canned, prepared and preserved foods available during the Chicago World's Fair. Below is a paragraph from "A History of the World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893." It's quite a list and something historical authors should take note of.

Probably no previous exposition contained so many excellent exhibits of manufactured food products. The entire second floor was given up to this exhibit; but it was found necessary, in order to meet the requirements of the Construction Department regarding weight, to assign space for some of the heavier exhibits on the first floor; those selected were beyond the maximum in weight, required ice, or were of a character that made it impossible to keep them on the second floor on account of the heat. The exhibits comprised the following manufactured food products: Beers, ales, liquors, cigars, cigarettes, tobaccos, snuff, mineral and spring waters, crackers, macaroons, sugar (cane, beet, and maple), confectionery, chocolate, condensed milk, evaporated cream, meat extracts, canned soups, canned meats, pickles and conserves, baking powder, yeast, prepared cereal foods, spices and other condiments, vinegar, gelatin, canned fruit, flour and meal, meat products, tea, coffee, honey, starch, butterine and substitutes for butter, phosphates, vegetable oils, soaps, feathers, wool, dairy implements and machinery, apiary appliances, salt, and axle grease. The installation of these exhibits was very elaborate, expensive, and unique; but the exhibitors were repaid for their efforts by the great number of visitors attracted. On several occasions it became necessary to use additional guards to keep the crowd from congregating around certain exhibits. Manufacturers of cereal food, chocolates, baking powder, pickles, spices, condensed milk, evaporated cream, crackers, beers, etc., kept experts in their employ to call attention to the quality of goods exhibited. The direct benefit from such an advertising method may be realized from the statement that at least four exhibitors gave away daily more than 5,000 cooked, preserved, or prepared samples of their products. From a carefully prepared estimate, the department found that 32 exhibitors of food products, covering fairly each industry represented, occupied 11,496 square feet of floor space—an average of 359 square feet to an exhibitor. The cost of constructing and maintaining the 32 exhibits was $120,031, an average of $3,750.97 per exhibitor, and an average cost per square foot of space occupied of $10.44. This rate per square foot was in excess of the cost in any other part of the building, and illustrates the general excellence of the installation and the thorough manner in which all were maintained.

1 comment:

  1. I find it interesting what the first items on the list are. :) This is fascinating info. I have a small red pitcher that one of my Mom's ancestors got at 1893 World's Fair. :)