Between 1920 and 1929, America's total wealth more than doubled. The country's citizens prospered, and the age of consumerism began, spurred on by clever advertising. Americans -- in particular, young adults -- listened to the same music, wore the same clothing, and even bought and prepared the same cuisine.
This was the period of Prohibition -- no alcohol allowed -- but that didn't stop many people from serving or drinking it. A "speakeasy" was a place that served alcohol -- so named because you had to speak softly at a back door to gain The food was not usually stellar at these establishments, often consisting of salty fare, such as pretzels or ham slices, to whet the patrons' thirst. Popular cocktails served at such establishments included "Everything But," "Frankenjack" and the ever-popular mint julep.
Tea sandwiches became popular, and even upscale restaurants served appetizers on toast points. Restaurants served caviar and salmon rolls, cheese balls and shrimp, lobster and mushroom toast. Deviled eggs saw their start during this decade. Other finger foods popular in American homes included olives, celery and pickles. Salted nuts were always set out at dinner parties -- primarily pecans, peanuts, almonds and filberts. Crackers were served as appetizers, usually with an assortment of relishes.
The average American kitchen became wired with electricity, which meant that foods could be kept frozen. As a result, many companies, including Birdseye, started developing and marketing frozen dinners. Sandwiches were extremely popular during this decade, with entire cookbooks devoted to sandwich recipes. In fact, Wonder Bread was introduced at this time. Many sandwiches had elaborate whipped fillings consisting of ingredients such as sardines, figs, nuts, and even juices or soups. The roaring twenties also saw the advent of vegetarianism. Fancy salads were popular with wealthy and middle-class Americans alike, although most still ate meat, especially since now they could freeze it in their homes. Other meal favorites included soups -- especially containing tomatoes and celery -- and classics such as fried chicken, baked ham and broiled steak.
The average American family in the 1920s had a sweet tooth, according to the Food Timeline. Jell-O and desserts made with it were popular. Cakes and ice cream were also favorites, including upside-down pineapple cake, devil's food cake and angel food cake. Fruit cocktails -- often from cans -- were frequently served. Popular candies included gumdrops, jellybeans, licorice and hard candies.
- Histroy.com: The Roaring Twenties
- The Food Timeline:1920s: Prohibition-Era Foods & Speakeasy Dining
- The Food Timeline: Prohibition Cocktails 1927
- Albert R. Mann Library, Cornell University: Home Economics Archive -- Good Housekeeping's Book of Menus, Recipes, and Household Discoveries (1922)
- The Food Timeline: Sandwiches, 1920s Style