DECEMBER 17 - Today in Food History
• National Maple Syrup Day - (Maple Syrup Trivia
Maple Syrup History & Production)
• Nutcracker Day (see 1892 below)
• Dec 17-23: Saturnalia - Ancient Roman festival honoring Saturn, the god of agriculture and harvest.
On this day in:
1797 Joseph Henry was born (died May 13, 1878). American Scientist, he was the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution (1846-1878), where he established a meteorological program which became the foundation of a national weather service.
1843 Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' was published. (various sources list both Dec 17 and Dec 19). It contains numerous and elaborate descriptions of Christmas food and dinners. “Oh! All that steam! The pudding had just been taken out of the cauldron. Oh! That smell!..... Oh! The marvelous pudding!”
1870 Bert Benjamin was born (died Oct 1969). Draftsman designer with International Harvester Co. Inventor of Farmall Tractor, the first that could plow and cultivate row crops. Granted 140 patents for tractors and tractor accessories.
1892 The first performance of Tchaikovsky's 'The Nutcracker' in St. Petersburg.
1895 George L. Brownell of Worcester, Massachusetts was issued patent No. 551,615 for a "machine for making paper twine."
1903 Wilbur and Orville Wright make the first successful flight of a self-propelled, heavier-than-air aircraft.
1913 Burt Baskin was born (died Dec 24, 1967). Co-founder, with Irv Robbins, of the Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlor chain in 1946 in Glendale, California.
1940 'Corn Silk' was recorded by Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians.
1948 Jim Bonfanti of the music group 'The Raspberries' was born.
1949 'Mule Train' by Frankie Laine was number 1 on the music charts.
1965 The largest edition of the Sunday New York Times was published, with 946 pages.
1974 'Duff' Goldman (Jeffrey Adam Goldman) was born. American pastry chef, owner of Charm City Cakes in Baltimore, Maryland. TV appearances on ‘Ace of Cakes’, ‘Food Network Challenge’, ‘Iron Chef America’, ‘Man v. Food’, etc.
1992 The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed by the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States.
2005 A group of 40 people dressed in Santa Claus costumes rampaged through Auckland, New Zealand, robbing stores and assaulting security guards.
2017 The historic Jackson Magnolia tree, the oldest tree on the White House grounds, was cut down. Planted by Andrew Jackson around 1830, the tree was featured on the back on $20 bills from 1928-1998. The species normal life span is from 80-120 years, and the 190 year old tree had been supported by cables, but its structure had finally become too dangerous to leave it standing.