Thanksgiving Kitchen Capers For Foodies!

The chef

The chef. Aunt Jo and Uncle George. Kritters of the Kitchen Kingdom. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1922). Cotsen

Described in the text as “Mister Murphy, the cook from France,”  this character is clearly a forerunner of  Mr. Potato Head.  The exhaustive site dedicated to the history and collecting of this beloved toy does not mention the inventor’s George Lerner’s forebearers, Aunt Jo and Uncle George…

"No dessert for you, young lady, until you eat those Brussel sprouts!"

“No dessert for you, young lady, until you eat those Brussel sprouts!”

Next we have what appears to be what today’s foodies call a heritage breed of bird without the modern factory-farm turkey’s huge breast (it’s actually a wild turkey).  According to the plate’s explanatory text, the turkey was brought from America to Europe by Jesuit missionaries in 1524 and was named after the country of Turkey from whence so many luxuries were imported:

The carnivore's pièce de resistance

The carnivore’s pièce de resistance. Illustrated Book of Natural History. Part I. Printed in oil colors by Henry B. Ashmead. (Philadelphia: American Sunday School Union, 1858).

This recipe (or directions for constructing a simple food sculpture) shows that Joost Elfers, Saxton Freyman, and Johannes van Dam were real Johnny-come-latelies when it comes to the art of playing with food. Check out this vegetarian alternative to the traditional turkey:

The vegetarian alternative

Elizabeth and Louise Bache.  When Mother Lets Us Make Candy.  New York: Moffat, Yard and Company, 1915.

What about the kitchen where the feast is prepared?   Here’s Cinderella toiling in a state-of-the-art facility from the turn of the nineteenth century…

Other people use Chinet at Thanksgiving when there is a crowd...

Other people use Chinet at Thanksgiving when there is a crowd… Cinderella or The Little Glass Slipper (London: J. Harris, 180 ).

Or here is Dame Trot peeking in while her clever cat is hard at work.


It’s time to uncork the wine and carve the bird!



With any luck, there will still be some stuffing left for later…

Where did all the left-overs go????!!!!

Grace Kasson & E. Tschantré, Jr.  Tin Tan Tales: A Book for Children.  London: Ernest Nister/ New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., [not after 1912, c1897].

Our apologies to the authors and illustrators of these children’s books from whence these images have been wrested and placed in not entirely appropriate contexts!

 Have a happy holiday weekend from Team Cotsen!

Aaron Pickett, Andrea Immel, Dana Sheridan, and Jeff Barton


Abbie N. Smith, King Gobbler, Boston : Educational Publishing Company, c1906

One thought on “Thanksgiving Kitchen Capers For Foodies!

  1. Never knew Mr.Potato head was previously Mr. Murphy. It’s amazing how this “toy” is still a children’s toy icon.

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