Making time for food

Food timeline excerpt

From salt to sausage, ice to ice cream, this fascinating food timeline traces the origins of many different foods and recipes. Some entries are surprising - the timeline states that popcorn predates olive oil by about 1,000 years.

The left side of the timeline lists the approximate date of introduction or discovery of various foods, while the right side indicates the date of origin of many recipes. There is a wide range of foods represented on the timeline, although it has a decidedly Western hemisphere slant. Nevertheless, there are many interesting tidbits: ice cream has been around since 3,000 BC, but it wasn't until the 1870s that neopolitan ice cream was created. Even though there's been a lot of recent buzz about ancient grains, I was still surprised to learn that emmer grain (aka teff) dates all the way back to 17,000 BC. Quinoa, by contrast, is a relative newcomer with an introductory date of about 5,000 BC. Yorkshire puddings and sugar beets both appear in 1747.

Every link on the timeline takes you to a detailed article about the item or recipe in question, or to a scholarly website discussing the food. The articles often provide excerpts from several historical publications and frequently include recipes from vintage cookbooks. The recipes range from "receipts" published in the earliest cookery books to more recent examples. For instance, the entry for mulligatawny soup begins with a recipe dating from 1830. Other recipes follow in chronological order, concluding with a 1956 recipe for mulligawtny consumme. (Of course, you need look no further than EYB to find more recent mulligatawny soup recipes.)

While one might quibble with some of the dates on the timeline, the authors do note that "it's impossible to express this topic in exact timeline format...Most foods are not invented; they evolve." But even if you can't pinpoint a date certain, you are certain to be entertained.


  • susan g  on  2/3/2014 at 1:41 PM

    This is an amazing resource. I got totally sidelined on the Pie page, and had to tear myself away.

  • CharmianC  on  2/3/2014 at 2:14 PM

    I started reading backwards (most recent creations first) and was stunned to learn I missed out on the Kool-Aid Pickles trend. Kind of balances out the whole Insects for Dinner thing back in 10,000 BC. Fascinating timeline! Thanks for posting this.

  • Rinshin  on  2/3/2014 at 10:22 PM

    Really fascinating. One of the big trends in Asian food that was missed though is sushi. Some controversies there too.

  • boardingace  on  2/3/2014 at 11:55 PM

    I love this website! Thanks for the reminder; I enjoyed browsing it tonight and reading about the history of butter.

Post a comment

You may only comment on the blog if you are signed in. Sign In

Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!