15 Vintage Food Brands That Are Much Older Than You’d Think
In a food world driven by trends, it’s easy to forget that many of our pantry staples have been around for hundreds of years. See what vintage food brands are still alive and well today.
Year Established: 1937
The name for this Depression-era staple is a mash-up of the words “spiced” and “ham.” (Get it?) Made popular in military rations and mid-century kitchens where convenience was everything, SPAM is still a big hit in Hawaii. Consumption outpaces every other state there, and Hawaiians know how to make it shine, pairing it with ingredients like sushi rice and nori.
Year Established: 1918
If you live in the South, you know that you can’t make Ro-Tel Dip without Velveeta. This processed vintage food brand was invented by Swiss cheesemaker Emil Frey. He was tasked with using up leftover bits of factory-made cheese. That mission was clearly a success: Velveeta was incorporated as its own company in 1923.
Year Established: 1903
Triscuits are the ideal platform by which to showcase your appetizer dips— and they have been around for more than a century. The wheat crackers were created and manufactured near Niagara Falls, and early ads bragged that they were “baked by electricity.” Times sure do change, but these crackers live on.
Kellogg’s Corn Flakes
Year Established: 1898
Brothers W.K. and John Harvey Kellogg launched their flaked-corn breakfast cereal at the turn of the 19th century. Their inspiration? The teachings of the Seventh Day Adventists, who advocated for bland diets that would inspire pious behavior.
Year Established: 1897
As the Post Company says, these are neither grapes nor nuts. But they do have a long history. (One theory is that they’re named for their resemblance to grape seeds.) While some folks groan when they see them in the cereal bowl, Grape Nuts can transform a homemade breakfast treat.
Year Established: 1897
Gelatin first wiggled its way onto the table in the medieval era. Back then, it was used for savory jellies packed with pig parts. It wasn’t until 1897 that JELL-O as we know it was patented. It has been bringing rainbow tones to our desserts ever since.
Year Established: 1869
Believe it or not, Heinz didn’t get its start with ketchup—the company started out producing horseradish. Fast forward to 1876, and the red stuff would follow, changing burgers and marinades forever. The history of this “all-American” condiment goes back further, however. Ketchup has its roots in fermented Chinese sauces dating to 300 B.C.
Year Established: 1868
McIlhenny Co. Co. has been bringing the heat since just after the Civil War. Edmund McIlhenny created his classic Louisiana sauce as a way to bring flavor back after the war. Taking advantage of the region’s marsh salt and growing spicy tabasco peppers, he built a culinary empire in the process. The sauce is still bottled in the same factory today. Find out the surprising birthplace of 20 famous foods.
Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
Year Established: 1867
If you are a baker, you may think of this vintage food brand as magic. Baking soda forms the gases that make breads and cakes rise. John Dwight and Dr. Austin Church first developed their baking soda in 1846. The Arm & Hammer trademark was established in 1867.
Year Established: 1824
John Cadbury opened his first shop in England in 1824. Our Easter baskets would never be the same. The brand’s first Easter egg dates to 1875. It was a dark-chocolate number filled with (even more) chocolate drops. Their milk chocolate came along just a few years later. Check out some of the world’s strangest food museums.
A1 Steak Sauce
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Year Established: 1821
When a king demands delicious sauce, a chef is wise to listen. Chef Henderson William Brand first made this sauce for King George IV in the early 1800s. The king is said to have praised it as A1—that’s shorthand for “a number one.” It was so good that Brand brought it to the masses upon the king’s demise. Now you have to try it on these tasty steak recipes.
Year Established: 1814
The backbone for many savory recipes, Colman’s Mustard has graced British and American tables for more than 200 years. Originally sold in powder form, it was designed by a UK-based flour miller and intended to be made into a paste. Some families have been with the business for five generations. Here’s how 16 iconic foods got their names.
King Arthur Flour
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Established: Circa 1790
A vintage food brand beloved by bakers, King Arthur Flour has roots in the Revolutionary War-era. When Boston-based Henry Wood began importing English flour, he may not have envisioned the creation of a legacy. Yet when the company’s “new and improved” King Arthur Flour was launched at the 1896 Boston Food Fair, they found a recipe built to last.
Year Established: 1764
Next time you whip up a batch of chocolate-chip cookies, give a nod to history. Baker’s Chocolate started out in 1764. The brand has been producing chocolate steadily since 1780. Now owned by the Kraft Company, they are said to be the first chocolate importers in the United States.
Year Established: 1706
When the Portuguese sailed in search of spice and riches, they brought tea back to Europe. Cue a British love story. Thomas Twining opened his first London coffee house in 1706, differentiating himself by selling tea. There, men would drink up and do business. (Women were sold dried tea to make at home.) Times have changed, but tea has warmed hearts. Hosting a tea party? Try these irresistible tea sandwiches. Then check out these recipes that Grandma used to make.