logo

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America

Disclaimer: This Article was First Published On Forreason.com and is published here with approval.

All is relative, even food.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Shutterstock.com

Though we've grown up loving Mac 'n' Cheese, and hamburgers, back in 18th century America, those delicious dishes didn't exist. Colonial-era food was much for complex as it derived from British culinary cuisine. We've evolved, and many of these dishes aren't served anymore. Just like fashion, food trends change. Here are some foods that today might look strange to you but were common during the Colonial era.

1. Pork Scraps

Pork Scraps was mainly in mid-Atlantic Colonies and was a dish that consisted of scraps of pork cooked with cornmeal. Naturally, as you can imagine, the scraps of pork were typically parts of the pig that would be wasted, including organs, tails, and feet. But this dish isn't extinct, the Amish and Mennonite communities continue to cook this dish, and it's now called "Scrapple".

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Shutterstock.com

People still love "scrapple" trough the mid-Atlantic states and you can find it today even in California. On the bright side, nothing went to waste. That's one way of looking at it, right?

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

2. Beaver Tail

You must be thinking, poor little beaver, and we couldn't agree with you more. Beavers are amazing animals that use their strong tails to create their dens. And though their tails were used as a tool, for people, they were seen as a source of food.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

During the fur trade boom in the 17th and 18th centuries, beaver meat became popular meat to eat, including the tail. They had to do something with it, right? Beaver meat was described as tasting "gamey." In the Facebook comments for this article, someone wrote to us: " Beavertail is weird, but only Voyageurs and trappers ate that. I made it recently and it's fatty, but not bad." Well, who knew beavertail was still being eaten!

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

3. Eel Pie

That's right, eel pie. Yes, we're talking about the sea creature. Mmm, sounds delicious, right? The moment eel comes to mind, we get shivers down our spine. But the Colonial era was big on eel pie, especially in New England.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

Back then, they would use lobsters as bait in the eel traps. Though eel was eaten in a variety of ways, the pie was a fan favorite. We're going to respectfully pass on this dish, and leave it in that era. This is one dish that never needs to make a comeback.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

4. Clabber

Though it sounds innocent, right? Would you like some clabber? Clabber is delicious! Don't be fooled by its name; it's not so innocent. Clabber is sour milk, Closest to kefir or skir. If you're a fan of kefir, then Clabber would be your kind of dish. If you're not a fan of kefir then stay far away from Clabber.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

In the 18th century, refrigeration didn't exist, so sour was a popular taste. Clabber was sour milk with toppings that include cinnamon, pepper, or nutmeg. You know, to jazz things up. Nothing tastes better with sour milk than pepper.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

5. Pigeon

Today, pigeons have become a nuisance around the world. Go to Venice, Italy, and your body will be covered in pigeons and possibly their poop. It's always been clear they're not friends of people. Maybe this dish should make a comeback?

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

In both the 17th and 18th centuries, the pigeon was a dish for rich households as the dish took great preparation to create. But lower-classes were not left out. If a household couldn't afford pigeon, pigeon pies were an option. We just don't think it was made from the best parts of pigeon.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

6. English Katchup

Oh, this must be ketchup, right? It looks like the word ketchup, just with a typo. Good guess, but you're wrong. So wrong, so wrong. In 18th century America, English Katchup was something entirely different. But, in some way, it was a pretty progressive sauce. So, what was it?

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

It was an Asian-inspired sauce made of mushrooms, walnuts, anchovies, and oysters, which would be used as a meat or fish sauce. Somehow, it just doesn't sound good. But, no one thought they Asian-inspired sauces or dishes were a thing back then, so it's cool to know this.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

7. Posset

Custard has always been a dividing dish. Some people enjoy custard; others can't stand the sight of it. And there's a good reason why; it's not a visually appealing dish. But in the 18th century, Posset was the dessert. It was the one dish everyone wanted their hands on.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

Posset was a rich and creamy custard dessert that, when mixed with ale, would become drinkable. It was a popular drink to serve at weddings, but we're not sure it's one we'd be willing to try.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

8. Turtle Soup

What monsters! How could anyone eat a turtle? They're extremely sweet and adorable; have you seen their cute little feet? Well, back then, people weren't sharing the same feelings towards turtles.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
shutterstock.com

Sadly, turtle soup was a popular dish for wealthy families in America, France, and Britain. If they only knew turtles carry salmonella. The turtles were cooked in wine and butter, making it a rich and heavy dish. Apparently, wine and butter mask the taste of turtle - who would have known?

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

9. Calf's Foot Jelly

Ah, yes, calf's foot. Our usual mid-afternoon snack. That was a joke. Whoever eats calf's foot jelly today is still living in the 18th century. This is definitely one dish we can live without. But back in the 18th century, this was a popular and tasty dish.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

The jelly was created by the gelatin that would appear when boiling the hoof. Originally, it was believed calf's foot jelly was good to heal sick people. Thankfully, medicine came along and calf's foot jelly was long gone from the menu. Remember when we said people who leat calf's foot jelly is still living in the Middle Ages? Well, if you like eating jello, then you're enjoying this modernized version of calf's foot jelly.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

10. Stewed Swan

Today, we admire swans for their beauty, but back in Colonial times, we ate them. Yes, we were cruel. How could anyone eat a swan? They're so majestic and pure. But those were clearly different days people were living in.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

In the Colonial era, men and women were open to eating a larger variety of meat, including swan. Originally an English dish, stewed swan became a popular dish in Medieval Europe. Being an ugly duckling didn't pay off too well.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

11. Pepper Cake

Pepper cake seems like a safe bet next to some of the other dishes on this list, and it probably was - have you seen the other foods on this list? Scary stuff. Colonial America had just introduced the pepper spice from India, and elite families would incorporate the spice into their cooking to show their status.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

It even went into the cake and other desserts. Here's the thing; pepper cake was meant to last for "a Quarter or Halfe a Year." Can you imagine eating a six-month-old cake?

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

12. Lobster

Have you been to a fish market recently? When it comes to prices, lobster is one of the most expensive seafood out there. Lobster is an expensive dish served in up-scale fish restaurants, something you only eat on very special occasions.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

But back in the day, lobster was associated with the lower classes of society. The lobster was incredibly cheap to buy and was a source of food for feed slaves and prisoners. How the tables have turned; if they only knew the prestige lobster has today.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

13. Applejack

Did you know apples aren't native to North America? Though you see apple trees everywhere, at one point, they didn't exist. Settlers from England brought the apple tree over, and it quickly became one of the main food staples. Of course, there was apple pie and apple sauce, but applejack was the real highlight.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

Applejack was an intense version of an apple cider. They would freeze the apple cider, which, during the process, would increase the alcohol content. The result was an alcohol content of 30%

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

14. Squirrel

Many people are divided on squirrels. Some people view them as cute wild animals, while others view them as rodents with fluffy tails. But we're on the side of them being cute fluffy animals with tiny hands. Back in the Middle Ages, as you can guess, squirrels were seen as a source of food. What we really want to know is how they caught squirrels - have you seen them move? They're like lightning!

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Shutterstock.com

Once the squirrels were caught, they were singed, gutted, tied up and roasted. Sometimes, they were cooked in pastry as well. Mmm, squirrel pie. If they were made into a pie, it was served with a wild duck sauce. Squirrel layered with duck juice. To be honest, it doesn't sound that bad, right?

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

15. Chocolate Mixed with Ambergris

You probably don't know what ambergris is, and we're not sure you want to find out. When it comes to delicacies, one of the most desired dishes was ambergris, or in other words, whale vomit. It was an expensive and elite additive people in the 18th century added to their dishes.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

In the 17th century, shortly after being brought to Europe, chocolate had spread to North America. Cooks in America were experimenting with chocolate, finding the combination with ambergris to be delightful.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

16. Roast Hedgehog

But...but...they're so cute. It's pretty clear we would not be able to survive the Middle Ages at this point. Could you? Hedgehogs are adorable, but as you know, anything sweet or cute was eaten back then. We're not quite sure how they did it, but back then, they would typically stuff the hedgehog with herbs and bake it with various pastries.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Shutterstock.com

The pastry part doesn't sound bad, hopefully, they didn't include hedgehog meat. But we'll never know. Farewell, cute, little hedgehog, farewell Sonic! it was nice collecting coins with you!

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

17. Singing Chicken

Who said chickens can't sing? Okay, that's a bad joke. Cooks were always trying to find new ways to present their dishes, and they usually opted for humor. The singing-chicken was apparently a knee slapper for dinner guests in the Middle Ages.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

The cook would stuff a roasted chicken's neck with mercury, which would make it "sing." While it was cooking, the heat that would leave the chicken's neck would make a singing-like sound. We're pretty sure it was more of a screech. What people didn't know back then was that mercury is a big no-no to eat. Guess the jokes on them?

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Shutterstock.com

18. Pudding of Porpoise

In the Middle Ages, they really fancied porpoise. We're still not sure why. Pudding of porpoise was a popular dish back then. The recipe required mixing the blood and fat of the porpoise with oatmeal and then stuffing the animal with this very mixture.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

The entire porpoise would then be roasted. Yeah, we're not sure about that recipe at all. First of all, why would anyone want to kill such an adorable sea mammal? Who do we call about this? PETA?

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

19. The Russian Doll Stuffed Bird

This isn't the actual name of the dish, but it's certainly what it looks like. The dish is originally called Roti Sans Pariel, which is the OG of the turducken. But the Middle Age turducken wasn't a joke; it was the real deal. This dish was made with 17 different birds, stuffed one within the other.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

This is the exact order of the birds that need to be stuffed one into another: warbler, bunting, lark, thrush, quail, lapwing, plover, partridge, woodcock, teal, guinea fowl, duck, chicken, pheasant, goose, turkey, and lastly, the giant bustard.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

20. Roasted Cat

Avert your eyes if you're a cat lover because this recipe will only traumatize you. If you go on Instagram or Facebook, all you'll see are photos and videos of cats doing cute things; we can't get enough of them. But in the Middle Ages, roasted cat was on the menu.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Shutterstock.com

Though, what was strange was the way they prepared the cat. After finding a chubby cat, they would decapitate, skin, and bury it in the ground for 24 hours. After, they would dig it up and roast it. We're both confused and disgusted.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

21. Umble Pie

At first, we thought it read, "humble pie," and it gave us hope. But, as the Middle Ages are starting to prove, their dishes were dream killers. As you know, no one left scraps on their plate in the Middle Ages. Since there were no fridges or freezers, food had to be eaten quickly and not left to waste.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

Umble pie was essentially whatever was left from the animal. This included all internal organs, regardless of the animal, and mushed together into a pie. We have a feeling it wasn't people's favorite dish.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

22. Sea Otter

When we see a sea otter, most of us literally say out loud, "awww." They're adorable, and one animal that you couldn't imagine killing. But in the Middle Ages, the word 'cute' didn't exist. If it had a face, you could eat it. Since meatless days were a thing, they needed a substitute.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

Well, sea otters, since they were sea mammals, were considered fish. Yeah, we know; it doesn't make sense. They would catch and then roast the animal on non-meat days. Because...sea otters aren't meat?

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

23. Badger

Today, badgers are quite controversial as they're known to infect farm cattle with tuberculosis. But that's now; back then, they were apparently delicious. As the saying goes, " they taste just like pork."

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Shutterstock.com

They would soak the badger for ten days in brine prior to cooking it. Then they would boil the badger between four to five hours, and then place it on a roasting spit. In other words, it's a lot of work for a meal, don't you think?

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

24. Cock Ale

Get your mind out of the gutter! This isn't what you think it is. But we had the same thoughts as you in the beginning. Back in the Middle Ages, water wasn't really a thing. No one drank water; instead, they focused their attention on high-calorie drinks such as ale.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

Back then, they were all about experimenting with food and drinks, as you can see from this list. Cock ale was made by adding a crushed boiled rooster to the ale. They would then add dates, nutmeg, mace, and raisins into the ale, letting it steep for a week, and then ferment for one month. Tada! You have cock ale.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

25. Sheep's Penis

We wish we could tell you that it isn't what it looks like, but it is. Oh, yes, it is. As we said before, nothing went to waste back then. Even though we wish somethings did. Sheep's penis was a hot menu item back then. They would stuff the sheep's penis with ten egg yolks, saffron, fat, and milk.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

We're not sure why it would need ten egg yolks stuffed in it, but it's better not to ask questions. Then, it would be roasted with various spices on it, such as cinnamon and ginger. It doesn't sound too bad if it wasn't a sheep's penis.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

26. Mock Egg

Oh, this one doesn't sound so bad, right? There's no hint of possible trauma from the name, so maybe it's not that bad. And you know what, it's actually the least disturbing dish on this list. On meatless days, people weren't allowed to eat eggs, so they would make mock eggs.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

Empty eggshells were filled with almonds and milk jelly. They would add saffron to give it a yolky color. We're pretty sure it tasted nothing like eggs, but we're just happy no animal organs or roasted cats were included in this dish.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

27. Roasted Peacock

You remember the roasted swan recipe earlier? Okay, this one isn't much different. What we don't understand was why they were so interested in eating these beautiful animals? Well, it turns out peacocks were considered a delicacy.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

Even their feathers and skin were saved for the dish's final display. When the peacock was finished cooking, it would be covered in its own skin and feathers, making it look like it was still alive. We're not sure whether to be impressed or not.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Shutterstock.com

28. Cockentrice

The title is a little confusing but try to keep reading; it'll all make sense soon. When it came to dinner in the Middle Ages, it was their main source of entertainment. Cooks were always looking for fun ways to entertain their dinner guests, and cockentrice, also know as pig-chicken was one of their creations.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Shutterstock.com

The cook would cut a boiled rooster in half and sew a pig to the bottom half — rooster on the top, pig on the bottom. Then, the creation was stuffed and roasted. And the guests went home happily entertained.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

29. Porpoise

What can we say? They sure loved their porpoises back then. Did they have no conscience? Porpoises horribly cute mammals, similar to dolphins only smaller with rounded noses. This description alone was enough for you to appreciate their cuteness.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

Back in the Middle Ages, porpoise was a delicacy and cooked for royal feasts. Their meat was cooked in a soup that was made of almond milk, and saffron. They had almond milk back then? We're kind of impressed, to be honest.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

30. A Dish for " Unwelcome Guests

Back then, you certainly didn't want to eat dinner at someone's house unless you're sure they liked you. Let's just say, if someone didn't like you, they made sure your dinner was a bad one. People in the Middle Ages had a special meal of unwanted guests.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

They would cut up har strings that mimicked maggots and would place them all over the guest's meal. They would also place dried hare's blood on meat. In the Middle Ages, you really needed to know who your friends were.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

31. Hares in Blood Sauce

Well, doesn't this sound absolutely darling? We can say positively that there aren't too many dishes in the world where people eat meat soaked in their own blood. And if there is, we don't want to know about it. We wish this dish was entirely different, but it's exactly how it sounds.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Shutterstock.com

The hares are chopped up and cooked in their own blood. But listen, it wasn't straight-up blood. They added ground almonds, onions, vinegar, and other spices. Does it sound better now?

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

32. Live Frog Pies

You remember the singing-chicken recipe, right? Well, this one isn't too far off from it. We were hoping the title wouldn't end up being exactly what it sounds like, but we're so wrong. Aside from the singing-chicken dish, cooks would add live frogs to a cooked pie.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

Then, when the pie was sliced open, the frogs would jump out, making all the dinner guests laugh. Did they have to eat that very pie right after? There are so many levels of grossness in this one; we can't even begin to explain.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

33. Unborn Rabbits

In many places in the world, even in the United States, people eat rabbits on a daily basis. It's not like they're endangered; they breed like...well, rabbits. You can eat rabbit in a stew, or roasted - the options are limitless. But this one is pretty disturbing.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Shutterstock.com

Although most people eat adult rabbits, back in the middle ages, they would eat unborn and baby rabbits. Yes, you read that right. Rabbits weren't considered to be meat, so they were allowed to be eaten on meatless days. Unborn and newborn rabbits were either cooked in stews, made into pies, or roasted.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

34. Helmeted Cock

The people in the Middle Ages had some really weird ideas about how to present their food. The "helmeted cock" is a variation of the "cockentrice" - but weirder, much weirder.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

The helmeted cock was prepared by mounting the bird, while covered in the coat of arms, on a pig. But this dish wasn't seen as something special; it was merely a side dish. That's right, a side dish. Our version of a side dish is a salad or chips.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Shutterstock.com

35. Lamprey

At one point in your childhood, you've had a nightmare about this fish. How could you not? It's terrifying. The lamprey is a blood-sucking fish that has rings of teeth around its face. It seriously looks like something for a horror movie, but alas, it's a real-life creature.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

In the Middle Ages, nothing fazed them because the lamprey was, yes, they were eaten. Are you even shocked anymore? They were eaten on meatless days. There's a rumor that King Henry I of England died from eating so many of them. Ew?

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

36. Puffins

What? Wait...what? But...but...this is just so wrong. Though meatless days were supposed to be meatless, people pretended puffins were fish so they could satisfy their meaty cravings. It's quite obvious it's a bird; do the wings and feathers not give it away?

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

People always come up with crazy rationalizations. Though there aren't specifics on how puffins were cooked, we can only assume they were roasted. Poor puffins never stood a chance on Meatless Mondays.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

37. Snake Soup

Yeah, we would take a strong pass on snake soup. We can't handle snakes as they are alive, so there's no way we could handle eating one. Snake soup was a recipe to bring warmth to anyone who was sitting at home on a cold day.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

This dish required catching multiple snakes and boiling them in water, making a snake broth. We're not quite sure what the next steps are, but we're also really happy not knowing. Middle Age ignorance is bliss, they say.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

38. Garbage Soup

Well, this seems like the least concerning dish on this list! What a relief it is to see garbage soup. Well, not so fast. Sadly, this recipe isn't exactly what it sounds like. We wish it was actually garbage. In the Middle Ages, garbage soup meant the broth from the extra parts of a chicken.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

We're talking about the head, feet, and gizzards. Yup, eat up! But after reading some of these dishes, to be honest, this isn't the worst meal on this list. Or is it? you will be the judge of it.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

39. Bone Marrow Tarts

Usually, tarts are filled with nuts jams, fresh fruit, or even cheese. Nothing sounds out of the ordinary, right? They sound innocent and delicious. But, don't get too relaxed. Sometimes people back then wanted to switch things up and create new flavored tarts.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

Though we think they missed the mark, apparently they loved adding bone marrow to the tart. Now, this isn't the worst dish on this list, but it's certainly not pleasant. There's something about bone marrow that turns us off.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

40. Blackbird Pie

In Europe, the blackbird is a common songbird, with most people not even noticing the blackbird when it flies around. But back in the Middle Ages, these birds were seen as one thing: dinner. Apparently, the blackbird's singing skills didn't convince the people, so they decided to make it food.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com

The birds were caught and baked into pies, even sometimes alive. To amuse dinner guests, live blackbirds were trapped under the pie top and released for laughs. We wouldn't have been good dinner guests.

40 strange Foods People Really Ate In 18th Century America
Pinterest.com