Church suppers were, and continue to be, a commonplace occurrence in Nebraska towns. But surely the gentlemen of Fremont’s Congregational Church deserve points for originality for their “Centennial Supper” held in 1889. A program from the event, in the collections of the Nebraska State Historical Society, reveals the group had a tongue firmly planted in its collective cheek.
Dedicated “to the memory of the man, first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen,” the dinner was to be followed by an entertainment “consisting of addresses on the Life and Times of the Father of his country, ‘personal recollections,’ and other topics one hundred years old, properly diversified and relieved by instrumental and vocal music.”
Homage to George Washington aside, food was the event’s principal attraction. “Children under 15 will be stuffed for 25 cents each. Adults of Ordinary Capacity for the Same Price,” the program declared. Those concerned about the safety of “food warranted to have been prepared by men,” were offered this reassurance: “Medical attendance will be provided at reasonable rates until recovery is assured.” The “Men You” was printed with the following note: “Being desirous of pleasing all tastes, we give our patrons the choice between the prevalent orthography of the day, the phonetic method recommended by the Spelling Reform Association, and the method of the Ancient Egyptians.”
The evening’s “On trays” included “Bakd benz, brown bred, piklz, drid beef, and skrambld egs.” The cold meat selection featured “coaled tongue, kold ham, and cold beef.” Roast chicken was indicated in the “Ancient Egyptian” (hieroglyphic) style, the word “roast” followed by an engraving of a chicken.
“Baked potatoes, Potatoes Mashed to Order, Cold Slaw, Onyuns, and Let Us Alone,” made up the “Miss Sell Aneous” category. Breads were “white, wry, graham, korn, and browne.” Hot Biskits, Pancakes, Waffles and Maple Sugar from Vermont” rounded out the main menu choices.
Dessert offerings consisted of “cake, apple pi, lemun pi, cocoanut pi, printer’s pi, eye scream (10 flavors), coffee, tea, milk, water, oranges, nuts, and raznz.”
For those who over-ate, “Xtras” in the form of “jamaica ginger, peppermint, and paregoric” were also available.
The program listed a final warning: “As most of the waiters are young and susceptible, the ladies are requested not to fascinate them.”