Maine Historical Society



A Past Exhibit

Exhibit Dates: February 24 thru March 2014

Graphic for exhibit
Menu cover, Pekin restaurant, Bangor

This exhibit highlighted a wonderful collection of menus from all over the state of Maine; as far north as Greenville, as far south as York, as far west as the Rangeley Lakes, as well as from the coastal towns and islands. There were also examples "from away," from ships, our nation's capital, and from London--all of which relate to Maine or Maine people.

As with many ephemeral objects, these menus represent places that have been torn down, burned, or remodeled. Whether destinations on a tourist route, or convenient roadside stops frequented by locals, they evoke a different era, when fish dinners cost 75 cents, and one could have their lobster served pickled. They tell of the people and events in our history, such as the Civil War, World War II, transatlantic voyages, and Maine's poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Menus reveal how people lived, and entertain us with their color and (sometimes inadvertent) humor.

Dating from 1882 to 1949, these menus are a fascinating resource that show us what people ate in times past, both plain and fancy. Some of the offerings are more familiar, but others may perplex and even mystify. All will make you either hungry--or thankful that some foods are no longer served!

This show was organized by Nancy Noble, MHS Archivist/Cataloger and was made possible by funding from Rabelais: Fine Books on Food & Drink, in Biddeford and online.