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The Parker House didn't always serve Parker House rolls

Parker House pastry menu from 1858: No Parker House rolls

Not a Parker House roll to be had back in 1858 (prices are in cents, not dollars).

The New York Public Library has a collection of hotel menus dating back to the 19th century and including menus from three Boston hotels, only one of which still stands, at the corner of School and Tremont streets.

But while the 1858 menu from the Parker House includes such delicacies as stewed eels, mock turtle soup, mutton cutlets in soubise sauce and nectarine ice cream, there's nary a Parker House roll to be had.

Exactly when Parker House rolls came into being is a matter of some dispute. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America claims they came into being in the 1870s, when an angry hotel pastry chef (cause of anger unknown) began flinging mounds of dough into an oven. But here's a recipe for Parker House rolls, famous Parker House rolls, from the Ohio Farmer from 1869 (with bonus free recipe for a wart remover):

Ohio Parker House rolls recipe

By 1873, the rolls had spread to England. By 1879, the War Department was including a recipe in its Manual for Army Cooks.

Today, the hotel still offers the rolls, along with Boston cream pie, also invented there (and also not in the 1858 menu's desert section, which includes olives as a way to end one's meal).

Cover of the Parker House menu, showing the hotel

H/t Barry Shein.

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Comments

Presumably the Parker House would just refer to its own rolls as "rolls" or something like that. Might the menu entry for "tea rolls" refer to what we know as the Parker House rolls?

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Voting closed 20

Ok. Can I tip them? I'm from the future :)

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I find it interesting that with all this talk of the move away from tipping being a new concept that we see it show up here so very long ago.

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Voting closed 8

When was the last time a restaurant put rolls on the menu?

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A cup of coffee (or tea) running close to $4.00 in 2021 dollars. What is it today?

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Oh so much to unpack here.

Suffice to ask what about improper conduct of guests? Such as demanding maids provide services above and beyond that of cleaning the room?

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Voting closed 6