Saint Louis, MI

The Foods We Love that were Invented at the St. Louis World's Fair

Heather Raulerson
Downtown St. LouisHeather Raulerson

St. Louis is the birthplace of more new American foods at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis than during any other single event in history. The creative food inventions from the World’s Fair include the hamburger, the hot dog, peanut butter, iced tea, the club sandwich, jello, cotton candy, ice cream cones, Dr. Pepper, puffed rice, and peanut butter. It is crazy to think that some of these inventions were by accident by combining two or more items and because it was sold at the fair they became famous. What made them so popular was that these foods were portable. It was the first time in public where it was acceptable to walk around and munch on your food at the same time.

Hot Dogs

There are many stories on how the hot dog came to be at the 1904 World’s Fair. The first is that there were plenty of visitors with white gloves who walked away from Anton Feuchtwanger’s steamed sausages booth that he had his brother-in-law bake buns to hold the sausages. Another is that the sausages were too hot, and after complaints, his wife suggested using a bun to keep the sausage. Either way, the fair was the beginning of the American Hot Dog explosion.

A great place to get hot dogs today is Carlos’ Hot Dogs at 6th and Olive Street in downtown St. Louis. His most popular is a ten-inch Polish sausage that barely fits the bun where each hot dog is slashed before basting them with a secret mild sauce recipe. Then make sure to have them drizzles with barbecue sauce, mustard, relish, and onions.

Ice Cream Cones

Ice Cream Cones were one of the oops creation when two things were put together. An ice cream vendor ran out of cups, and the neighboring vendor happened to be selling waffles. The vendor helped out by rolling the waffles and adding ice cream inside them. The two vendors had a hit, and the Ice Cream Cone was born.

The best place to get an ice cream waffle cone is Clementine’s Naughty & Nice Creamery at 4715 Macklind Avenue in St. Louis. This ice cream parlor has traditional ice cream treats and those a bit naughty; unique ice cream treats with a bit of alcohol added. Some of the flavors you can get are Gooey Butter Cake, Honey Lavendar, and Pink Champagne Sorbet.

Iced Tea

The invention of Iced Tea came about when the seller of hot tea noticed he wasn’t selling anything on a steamy St. Louis summer day. So, he decided to cool off his tea by dumping loads of ice into it. Today almost 80 percent of all tea drank in the United States is iced.

A great place to try unique teas is at Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea at 4071 Chouteau Avenue in the Grove neighborhood in St. Louis. You can find the classic teas and coffee here and globally influenced drinks such as Thai iced tea. Some other iced tea choices are a ginger-lemon herbal tea sweetened with honey, and if you add sparkling water, it can turn it into a refreshing drink.

Although one of the food items which the World's Fair did not make a success was peanut butter. Peanut butter was sold in cups but didn't prove particularly popular during the fair. It wasn’t until 40 years later, during World War II as a military ration, for it to gain popularity.

With all the foods that were invented at the 1904 World’s Fair, which one is your favorite, and where do you enjoy getting them in St. Louis?

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Freelance travel writer and photographer who loves sharing her adventures from around the world. It is never too late to pursue your dream!

Rochester Hills, MI

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