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Jan 7, 2012 06:30 PM

When Did Omelets Become Fairly Common in American Home Cooking?

I recently saw a 1957 Gregory peck/Lauren Bacall comedy called Desiging Woman, in which she cooks him an omelet (caveat- in the film,as in real life, she came from class and wealth; and the film took place in NYC.) In my head, i had omelets becoming commonplace in the U.S. later than this.

The site above shows omelet recipes in the 1965 NYTimes Cookbook, followed by JuliaChild in 1972.

Anybody know when they became somewhat mainstream/frequently found in home kitchens?? Thnx much.

p.s. maybe in Hollywood and CA. in general, home cooking was culinarily ahead of 'Mainstream America' ? ( I know this is produce related, but produce does go hand in hand w/ cooking: my mom and dad, from Va. and New Orl., never tasted artichokes until they met in CA. after WWII.)

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  1. As opposed to scrambled eggs?

    3 Replies
    1. re: bbqboy

      How is that relevant to the question?

      1. re: virtualguthrie

        I suppose because folks have probably been putting stuff in eggs for as long as they have been eating eggs, and the idea that California led some postwar trend in omelets, among other things, struck me as amusing.

        1. re: bbqboy

          at the bottom of the page for eggs, they go on to talk about scrambled eggs...where this appears:

          "We know that Ancient Romans scrambled eggs (ie, broke the yolks and mixed them with the albumen), mixed them up with vegetables and spices, and baked them. These were the first omelettes. "

          A rose by any other name, etc., etc., etc....

          But somehow Hollywood will try to take the credit, anyway....

    2. I started in 1977. A new roommate brought an omelet pan with her, and showed me how.

      1. I grew up in the 50's and 60's with omelets .

        3 Replies
          1. re: magiesmom

            Me too. my mom used to make crepes and big square puffy omelets in a big square electric skillet once or twice a month- I loved them. That would be in the late 1960s and early to mid 1960s.

            1. re: magiesmom

              Same here. My mom was making me omelets before I was even old enough to go to school, which would place that around 1960.

            2. There are various styles of omelets (see the recent 'best omelet' thread). The quick cooked French style probably became popular with Julia Child (I learned it from Joy of Cooking in the early 1970s). But coffee shops and diners were serving omelets (e.g. Denver omelet) much earlier. The hangtown fry dates to the California goldrush days (1850s).

              2 Replies
              1. re: paulj

                thanks for that link. i was looking for your hangtown fry reference but it's not there; what is a hangtown fry?

              2. In an episode of MASH, Colonel Potter has a "Western Omelet." Episode was probably from the mid-to-late 70s, but if the scriptwriters were scrupulously historically accurate--no sure thing!--then omelets in US cuisine would date to no later then the early 50s insofar as that's when the Korean War occurred.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                  And Bunter made omelets for Lord Peter in the 1920-30s - not for breakfast, but as a quick supper at odd late night hours.

                  1. re: paulj

                    paul, love the wiki piece you linked;thnx. weren't bunter and LP british characters?

                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                      I debated commenting on the Britishness of the characters and author. But Sayers doesn't write of omelets as though they were exotic imports from France.

                      According to Google's word search
                      the more British spelling, omelette, peaked in popularity in English fiction around 1930. Also from that, I don't see big differences between American and British usages over time.

                      is cookbook from about 1910, with about a dozen omelet recipes, differing mostly in filling (including one with rhubarb).

                      Curiously in American usage there is a drop around 1960, with a climb since then.

                      1. re: paulj

                        well paul, you have some talented researcher chops there! fascinating. below is a link to the graph done for AMERICAN english books. i have no idea what books they are using for this data,and i won't confuse books with actual home kitchen practices, but this is still very interesting. maybe i'll call Reference at the schlesinger library at radcliffe. my 102 years old grandmother would have been helpful with this question but she died 20 years ago. thnx paul.


                  2. re: Perilagu Khan

                    Enjoyed eating Western omelets no later than 1957 in Brooklyn at a luncheonette in Bensonhurst near my dentist. Then I thought that ketchup was an essential accompaniment, Soon after we did the classical French-style omelet at home as demonstrated by Julia Child on The French Chef.