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Pan-American Food

Food on the Exposition Grounds     Beverages on the Exposition Grounds     Eating in the City     What the Rich Ate

If you went thirsty while visiting the Exposition, you had no one to blame but yourself! From $5.00 ($102.14) bottles of Mumm's Extra Dry champagne to free water from the first drinking 'fountains', visitors had a spectrum of beverages that were both familiar and new.

Mineral & Spring Waters
Enjoying popularity in 1901 were numerous varieties of mineral waters which included 'ginger ales.' These were promoted for their health benefits, despite the fact that you were served the water in a glass which was then briefly rinsed and used to serve the next customer. Paper cups, a major improvement in public sanitation, would not be developed for another 7 years. Some examples of waters you could purchase were Appollinaris, $.25 ($5.11) a pint; White Rock, $.20 ($4.09) a pint; Crystal Lithia Water, $.05 ($1.02) a half-pint; Crystal Water Company's Ginger Ale, $.05 a half-pint; Vartra Ginger Ale, $.20 a pint; Imported C & C Ginger Ale, $.25 a pint.

The Saratoga Springs Mineral Water Company had its own stand on the grounds near the state and foreign buildings, or you could visit their booth in the Manufactures & Liberal Arts Building for a free sample. Competing companies in that building also serving free samples of mineral waters were the Arethusa Spring Water Company (Connecticut), the Consumer's Company (Chicago), Geneva Mineral Water Company (Brookyn, "Perfectly pure. Pleasantly practical."), Mohican Spring Water Company (Newark, New Jersey).

Just Plain Water
If you only wanted a drink of water to get the dust of the grounds out of your throat, you could be one of the first to use the new drinking fountain invention, located in the corners of the Manufactures Building. For the first time, public water facilities would no longer force people to share a common dipper, a practice believed to be unsanitary. A stream of water was presented upon demand to the thirsty person who could then imbibe it in a hands-free manner.

Soft Drinks - Fruit Juices & Carbonated Beverages
Concessions around the grounds sold "Pan-American Orangeade" for 5 cents which had been available for decades and was made, like all fruit juice drinks of the time, by boiling fruit juice with water and sugar to make a syrup. One recipe used 1/2 cup juice, 1 pint water, and 1 cup sugar to make the syrup which was then poured over crushed ice. A prominent vendor of orangeade was J Hungerford Smith, a company based in Rochester, New York. The company began in 1879, and was to absorb the A & W Root Beer Company for a time. In 2001, the JHS company, now part of ConAgra foods, still manufacturers 'orange slush' base for drinks. Buffalo Concessions had the soft drink concessions on the grounds. They charged $.05 ($1.02) for a glass of orangeade, the same price as in the city, they said.

Other concessions sold apple cider (probably fresh-made locally) and you could buy Grapeine (unknown composition) and Welch's Unfermented Grape Juice at 5 cents a glass in the Horticulture Building. If you could hold your thirst until you reached the Manufactures' Builidng, you could sample Welch's grape juice for free along with three other brands.

Also widely available were carbonated beverages which fit into the generic classification used in 2001 of "root beer." Sarsafareine was created probably from sarsaparilla (from the roots of the smilax bush) with sassafrass root added for flavor.

Hot Beverages
If you visited the Exposition in May or October, you would need a warm beverage after a few hours on the chilly, breezy grounds. The Bailey Catering Company restaurants were selling coffee at $.10 ($2.00) a cup. You could get samples of coffee in the Manufactures' Building and also taste the first 'instant' coffee introduced there by the Kato Coffee Company of Chicago.

If you were a chocolate lover, you could visit the Lowney Building or the Baker's Chocolate Building to enjoy $.05 ($1.00) hot chocolate. Although Americans consumed ony a third of a pound of chocolate per person in 1900, its popularity was growing with American incomes. (In 2001, Americans consume nearly 10 pounds per person.)

Beer and Hard Liquor
If Americans had one beverage of choice in 1900, it would be beer. They consumed it throughout their work day, at meals and during convivial gatherings. The amount consumed per person was 17.73 gallons (vs. 23.95 gallons in 2000). It was only natural that beer be sold on the Exposition grounds as part of restaurant concessions. The Pabst Brewery of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, maintained a large concession in the heart of the Midway. The Pabst Pavilion, at the corner of the North and South Midway, offered musical accompaniment to the standard menu of the times.