Inventive cuisine has its place, but sometimes all you want is a hearty meal of your favorite comfort foods. There are certain feel-good foods Americans reach for when we need to be comforted – from creamy, cheesy macaroni and cheese to a steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup, even a quick and easy peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and of course an indulgent chicken pot pie. Here’s a look at where these staple dishes originated from and why they have outlasted food trend after food trend.
Peanut Butter and Jelly
We seem to be an in a food obsessed era, it’s no wonder we sometimes reach for foods that remind us of simpler, less stressful times. Earlier this month was National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day, which led me to wonder how did this simple, inexpensive sandwich earn its own dedicated day?
This childhood favorite was first introduced in the early 1900’s as a delicacy that was only served at the finest of tearooms. It wasn’t until 1986, when Good Housekeeping magazine published an article urging homemakers to use a meat grinder to make peanut butter and spread it onto bread did the sandwich start entering everyday American homes.
PB&J sandwiches are extremely popular with children; in fact, a 2002 survey revealed that the average American will have eaten 2,500 of these tasty sandwiches before graduating high school.
Macaroni and Cheese
AKA, mac and cheese, might be the ultimate comfort food. It’s hot, gooey texture, and delicious taste has even debuted on many, fancy restaurant menus.
Whose to credit for this American classic? Mary Randolph first released a mac and cheese recipe in her 1824 cookbook, The Virginia Housewife. Mass production of the main ingredients made this dish affordable, accessible and easy to make. Fast forward a few generations and packaged mac and cheese variations hit the market with great success. The United States gave mac and cheese its own day just like the peanut butter & jelly sandwich. Mark your calendar, July 14 has been branded “National Macaroni and Cheese Day!”
Chicken Pot Pie
The chicken pot pie is an American classic. Its rich, savory filling of chicken and vegetables makes this baked dish the perfect meal. When you take that first bite it provides a warming feeling that really satisfies an empty stomach. The pot pie is completely enclosed with a flaky crust and baked in a pie pan to support its shape. The chicken pot pie certainly isn’t the healthiest dish on our list, but this dreamy pie sure does hit the spot for many Americans.
It’s unknown when the dish was introduced to the United States but similar dishes date back hundreds of years in England and other parts of Europe.
Chicken Noodle Soup
A savory broth simmering with chicken, vegetables and noodles has been a classic dish for hundreds of years. Chicken noodle soup may remind you of a time when you were sick or surviving yet another cold winter day, but this all-time American classic has long been touted to help treat the common cold so it’s a perfect pairing.
In the 1930’s the Campbell Soup Company released a condensed version of this soup that helped it make it into millions of American households. Nutritionally chicken noodle soup is by far one of the healthiest comfort foods.
What do all of these foods have in common? All of them are modest, homemade, and in most instances, provide a warm, good feeling! Adding to that, it’s comforting to know that with all the trendy foods being introduced, and fad diets that are marketed, these foods remain the same year after year, generation after generation. We can all feel good about that!
And in case you didn’t notice, you can click on each of the photos above to be taken to the recipe that matches the photo – happy cooking!