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Salad has evolved since the Civil War

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Len Rome's Daily Feature of Little Known Facts

(WYTV) – Let’s have salad for breakfast! Did Julius Caesar enjoy a caesar salad? Nope, an Italian immigrant named Caesar Cardini invented it at his restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico in the 1920s.

It became a favorite of Hollywood Stars who’d slip down to Tijuana for the weekend.

Before the Civil War, most salads we ate in this country were made of cabbage. It stayed fresh and crisp the longest.

Then after the Civil War as trains began to move produce a bit more around the country, we could add several leaves of lettuce to the typical salad that contained chicken or seafood and vegetables.


Lettuce was still a very seasonal crop, spring and fall. The plants went to seed or burned up in the summer. Growers still had to rush it to market before it wilted.

What really put salads on our kitchen tables was iceberg lettuce. In 1894 it was a new kind of lettuce. You could grow it in hot weather and it would survive the trip to market.

Iceberg lettuce got its name from the fact that California growers shipped it covered with heaps of crushed ice in the 1920s. Remember, you can’t freeze, or dry, can or pickle lettuce, you just have to eat it.

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