Did you know? The earliest cake incorporating a large amount of red food coloring was “Waldorf red cake” or “red Waldorf cake”, initially appearing in 1959. At that time, the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel had never served red velvet cake (or Waldorf red cake) or anything remotely like it. This Waldorf-Astoria cake bears the distinction of being one of the earliest American foods to develop a widespread and enduring urban legend.
The Legend: A story circulated that a guest at the upscale Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue in New York City, dining at the hotel’s eminent restaurant, ordered a slice of fudge cake for dessert. The woman enjoyed it so much that she asked the waiter for the recipe, with which he complied. Upon receiving her hotel bill in the mail, however, there was a hefty charge for the recipe. To obtain revenge, she began to widely distribute the specifications for making the cake.
Sound familiar? Variations on this urban legend have been told about other famous recipes such as the infamous story about Neiman Marcus/Mrs. Field's cookies. Memory is deeply tied to smell and taste and we all have stories of food and family: a grandmother's savory bread, an uncle's spicy chili, a cousin's sweet lemonade. Make sure you bring your stories and recipes to Lyric Arts and share them on our very own "Hospitality House" bulletin board when you come see The Red Velvet Cake War, opening May 30th. See you there!