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Origins of Lattes, Kids’ Meals, and Shirley Temples

November 7, 2016

History that’s good enough to eat (or drink).
Food Origins: Latte

Latte

If you ordered a caffe latte in Italy, you’d get a cup of coffee with some milk in it. (In Italian, it literally means “coffee with milk.”) You wouldn’t get espresso combined with steamed milk. That’s an American latte, a variation on cappuccino that was created in 1959 in Berkeley, California. Lino Meiorin, owner of Caffe Mediterraneum, came up with it when customers who were unfamiliar with Italian coffee drinks ordered a cappuccino and, disliking the strong taste, asked for extra milk. Meiorin served his first lattes in bowls and pint glasses.

Fast Food Kids’ Meal

The first fast-food chain to offer a combo meal of kid-size portions (with a free toy) was Salt Lake City-based Arctic Circle, a burger joint popular on the West Coast from the 1960s to the ’80s. Introduced in 1961, the Arctic Circle Kids’ Meal consisted of a hamburger, fries, soda, and a toy prize, all inside a brightly colored box with games and puzzles on it. The format became a standard part of every fast-food restaurant’s menu. Examples: Burger King’s Kids Club Meal, McDonald’s Happy Meal, and Sonic’s Wacky Pack.

The Shirley Temple

In the 1930s, child actress Shirley Temple was the biggest star in Hollywood and she frequently went to dinner at Chasen’s, a restaurant popular with the film industry. In 1938, on the occasion of her 10th birthday, the bartenders at Chasen’s concocted a drink just for her—alcohol-free and caffeine-free. The original recipe: two parts ginger ale, one part orange juice, a tablespoon of grenadine syrup, and a maraschino cherry garnish. Today, the drink is more commonly made with 7-Up instead of ginger ale, and without orange juice. Temple was such a big star that the drink caught on. Today there are alcoholic variations, such as the Shirley Temple Black, which adds Johnnie Walker Black Whiskey or Kahlua and plays on the star’s married name.
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