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    History of Salad Dressings

    Salad dressings have a long and colorful history, dating back to ancient times. The Babylonians used oil and vinegar for dressing greens nearly 2,000 years ago. Egyptians favored a salad dressed with oil, vinegar and Asian spices. Mayonnaise is said to have made its debut at a French Nobleman’s table over 200 years ago.

    Salads were favorites in the great courts of European Monarchs. Royal chefs often combined as many as 35 ingredients in one enormous salad bowl, and included exotic green ingredients such flower petals. England’s King Henry IV's favorite salad was a tossed mixture of new potatoes (boiled and diced), sardines and herb dressing. Mary, Queen of Scots, preferred boiled celery root diced and tossed with lettuce, creamy mustard dressing, truffles, chervil and hard-cooked egg slices.

    In the twentieth century, Americans began using basic dressing ingredients (oil, vinegar or lemon juice, and spices) to create an infinite variety of dressings to complement salads.

    Prepared dressings were largely unavailable until the turn of the century. Until then, home chefs had to start from scratch. Due to variations in ingredients, partly because of lacking storage conditions and year-round supply sources), results varied significantly. Gradually, restaurants began packaging and selling their consistent dressings product to customers, and the salad dressing industry began.

    Many of the major brands of salad dressings available today were on the market as early as the 1920’s.

    • In 1896, Joe Marzetti opened a restaurant in Columbus, OH and began to serve his customers a variety of dressings developed from old country recipes. He began packaging his dressings to sell to restaurant customers in 1919.
    • In 1912 Richard Hellmann, a deli owner in New York, began to sell his blue ribbon mayonnaise in wooden containers. One year later, in response to a very strong consumer demand, Mr. Hellmann began to market the mayonnaise in glass jars.
    • In 1925, the Kraft Cheese Company entered the salad products business with the purchase of several regional mayonnaise manufacturers and the Milani Company (which led to Kraft’s initial entry into the pourable dressing business with French Dressing as its first flavor).

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