By Jennifer Young

The World’s Fair of 1939-1940 was held in Queens, New York, and featured the slogan, “Dawn of a New Day.” Many of the fair’s exhibits were geared for the world of tomorrow. Visitors delighted in highly technological displays like color photography, View-Master, Smell-O-Vision, and the kitchens of the future.

Like other fairs, this featured a dedicated Food Zone with a myriad of pavilions representing world cuisines. Coca-Cola was there, along with Heinz, Kraft, and Wonder Bread. Food had gained such a prominent role in this and previous World Fairs that a man named Crosby Gaige decided to create a New York World’s Fair Cookbook: the American Kitchen to celebrate Native American cuisine and quintessential recipes from every state in the union. Not surprising, Indiana had some tasty entries for inclusion in this historic volume.

The 1939 World’s Fair “Electric Kitchen of Tomorrow”

“Love and Tangle” is easily the most enigmatic recipe found under Indiana’s section of Gaige’s World’s Fair Cookbook. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find it elsewhere. The Food History Timeline makes mention of it, but only as a reference to Gaige’s book. You might suppose that this dish has been lost to history, but upon closer inspection, it may very well be a cousin to a beloved North American carnival treat: funnel cakes.

Gaige’s recipe for “Love and Tangle”

Tucked in the book’s section on Midwest dishes, the brief Indiana section also features a recipe for “Hamburger Vegetable Soup,” paprika-sprinkled “Succotash,” “Red Chocolate Cake,” and “Indiana Spaghetti.” The spaghetti dish is more of a casserole than today’s typical pasta dish, and it included four slices of bacon to flavor the diced round steak and tomato pulp.

Pin on 1939 World's Fair NYC
“The Food Exhibition Building. New York World’s Fair”

All in all, Indiana features pretty well in this volume and no one should have any fear about attempting to duplicate these fairly simple recipes. That may not be the case for other states. For instance, Illinois’s “Brain Souffle” prepared with calf brains may not be your kids’ idea of eating “high on the hog”, and you won’t find Alabama’s “Baked Oppossum” stuffed with bread dressing on any Cracker Barrel menu today.

The layout and scope of the 1939 “Food Zone”

Nevertheless, this unique volume certainly pays homage to the early days of American cooking. While the fair may have focused on the future, this cookbook celebrated the past, beginning with Native American cookery. The author begins each section of the book with a summary for each region, explaining how local ingredients were used and what immigrants contributed to each state’s culinary traditions.

While this volume isn’t easy to find anymore, it is owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and many different libraries across the country. However, you can access it conveniently right here . If you elect to make any of the featured dishes, be sure to share your experience with OrangeBean on their Facebook page.