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"Quick Lunch"

In Gastronomica, I discuss how dairy foods became popular noonday fare in the 1880s. Although they had some meat dishes, the menus in most lunch places included crackers and milk, bread and milk, and cereal and milk. Or, a patron could order a bowl of cream. When brand-name cereal makers wanted to introduce a new product, they put it in these places and gave people a chance to try it out.

A typical meal of a corned beef sandwich, banana shortcake, and coffee at the John R. Thompson chain.

With restaurants in 43 cities, the Thompson chain of dairy lunch eateries was a powerhouse in 1925. A brochure assured readers that they would get plenty of carbohydrates in the meal above, and suggested that dessert was a vital part of every meal. Yeah!

This Boston lunch room of the 1890s offered the standard fast food fare of the time, including oysters.