Think you’ve eaten all the holiday food you could ever want or imagine? Think again! Here are some less common holiday treats that were once popular and still find themselves embedded in holiday references today.
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire? Today, it’s more like pre-roasted almonds in the pantry. Chestnuts were extremely popular in the beginning of American history because their bulk supply made them so cheap. However, since the early 1900s, a blight from imported Asian chestnut trees killed almost all the American variety throughout the country. Now, the main supply of chestnuts is imported from Europe and Asia, and the attempt to repopulate US orchards and farms with the native species has been an extremely slow and unprofitable process.
On the plus side, chestnuts are super tasty, nutritious and still sold in markets throughout the US.
2. Sugar Plums
These sweet, hard-shell gummy candies are made out of dried fruits such as plums, apricots, figs, dates, cherries and various others. Some old-fashioned recipes for sugar plums don’t even include dried fruit but rather nuts, honey and spices. These candies were once extremely expensive because they were made with high-priced ingredients, but since the industrial revolution, these candies have been mass produced and consumed. Since there are so many different recipes to make them, every bite is a surprise.
3. Figgy Pudding
Think bread-pudding fruitcake but with sweet alcohol. That’s right; this dessert usually contains rum and cognac, as well as spices and – big shocker – dried figs. The best way to enjoy this dessert? Pour some alcohol on it and light it on fire!
These potato-pancakes are most associated with Hanukkah but are actually a popular Eastern and Middle Eastern food that can be either sweet or savory. The latke is typically fried in oil which represents the oil that kept the Second Temple of Ancient Israel lit for eight days. These potato pancakes can alternatively be made out of vegetables, legumes and cheeses but now have been largely replaced in popularity by the Hanukkah doughnut.
Wassailing is a traditional ceremony in cider-producing counties of England, where cheers and offerings are made to the good health of the trees for next year’s harvest. It eventually developed into door-to-door Christmas caroling, and the drink, wassail, became a delicious, mulled holiday cider usually made with sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.