The Park Service turned 100 on August 25, 2016. While planning the celebration, the Friends of Fort Vancouver wondered; “What could we serve the folks who come for the celebration that would have been a treat in 1916?”
Our Executive Director, Mary Rose, did some digging and found some surprising answers.
In 1916 Nabisco was fairly new and the hands-down winner was OREO's. They were unveiled in 1912 and homemakers could not bake anything similar -- hence their popularity.
Another favorite of the day was the Fig Newton, developed to satisfy the acceptable treatment for "digestive ailments" -- fruit and biscuits. They were introduced in the 1890's and later purchased by Nabisco, thus making them popular "cakes." They were called "cakes" until the 1980's - now we call them “cookies.”
Here's the surprise that spans our Park's eras -- Graham Crackers! They were introduced in 1829 by Presbyterian minister Sylvester Graham, a vegetarian interested in dietary reform. He developed and marketed the graham diet with graham flour, wheat germ and wheat bran. They were unsweetened and the best "cure" for "carnal desires," according to the good reverend. (They would have been much tastier than hardtack but perhaps they were avoided by sailors or passionate people.)
If we want to go the cake route -- there are Prune Cakes and Plum Puddings (prunes were a popular crop in Clark County for several decades), the latter being tough to serve to crowds but the former is doable.
Oh -- and Trench Cake! It was already popular in England by 1916 and soon became a popular cake to send to our boys overseas. A type of fruit cake without eggs, a recipe was prescribed by the organized British but I doubt the Americans adhered to any single design. Since they were fruit cakes, prunes may easily have been included.
Happy Birthday NPS!