Food-Related Humor a Hundred Years Ago

Image Source: Larkin Housewives’ Cook Book (1915)

In the early 1900’s magazines often had humor pages. What is considered funny has really changed over the past hundred years, and often the humor in those magazines falls flat (or is even offensive) by modern standards. But, some hundred-year-old humorous stories still make me smile. Here are a few food-related humor items:

Little Elizabeth and her mother were having luncheon together, and the mother, who always tried to impress facts upon her young daughter, said, “These little sardines, Elizabeth, are sometimes eaten by the larger fish.”

Elizabeth gazed at the sardines in wonder and then asked, “But, mother, how do the large fish get the cans open?”

American Cookery August-September, 1918)

“Waiter,” said the indignant customer, “what does this mean? Yesterday I was served for the same price with a portion of chicken twice the size of this.”

“Yes, sir,” answered the waiter. “Where did you sit?” “

Over by the window.”

“Then that accounts for it. We always give people who sit by the windows large portions. It’s an advertisement.”

American Cookery (October, 1918)

A  hobo knocked at the back door, and the woman of the house appeared.

“Lady, I was at the front . . . “

“Poor man!” she interrupted. “Wait till I give you some food, and then you shall tell me your story.” After she had given him a hearty meal she anxiously inquired, “What brave deed did you do at the front? “

“I knocked, “he replied meekly, “but couldn’t make nobody hear, so I came around to the back.”

American Cookery (October, 1918)

24 thoughts on “Food-Related Humor a Hundred Years Ago

    1. Thank goodness – though I must admit that I’m appalled by how much doesn’t. Perhaps I should have posted examples of ones that didn’t work, but somehow I felt like it would be better to just post ones that I enjoyed.

  1. Those were good ones. We were close to a couple who came from another part of the country, and we quickly found out they were not amused by the things we thought were funny. We “got” their humor, but they never “got” ours. Oh, well. It was decades ago, and we lost touch.

  2. I liked these.

    As one slight aside, I wonder how common sardines were as typical fare at the time? I don’t like sardines and I would have always thought of them as sort of a marginal food, but over time I’ve learned that isn’t the case. The British sardine fishing fleet was huge at one time (and figured prominently in an international incident during the Russo Japanese War), but its dwindling away as folks don’t like sardines much anymore (although one of my co-workers has them as lunch fare all the time).

    1. I’m also curious about whether sardines were more popular a hundred years ago. And, your comment makes we want to dig into the history of the Russo Japanese War.

      1. Early in the Russo Japanese War the Russians dispatched their Atlantic fleet to circumnavigate the globe and enter the Pacific to fight the Japanese. When the fleet entered the North Atlantic it encountered fishing boats from the British sardine fleet in dense fog.

        Even though the chances of the Russians encountering the Japanese in the North Atlantic were extremely remote, nervous Russian gunners assumed the boats were Japanese torpedo boats and opened up on them.

        1. Wow, this is amazing. It makes me realize that I should dig more into the history of the Russo Japanese war. It’s something that I have absolutely no memory of ever studying back when I was in school – though of course I’ve forgotten a lot since that was years ago. I do know that it was discussed in U.S. history textbooks a hundred years ago. I did post about it five years ago, back when I was posting my grandmother’s diary a hundred-years to the day after she wrote the diary entries. At that time, I found a 1909 history textbook which I thought might be similar to the textbook she would have used, and it had information about the Russo Japanese War. Studied Russo-Japanese War in History Classes a Hundred Years Ago

          1. I found information about that war when my grandmother mentioned it in her letters of 1903-1905 and I looked for news articles. I had never known about it before.

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