Etiquette Hell

Hostesses With The Mostest => Entertaining and Hospitality => Topic started by: snappylt on May 23, 2013, 07:53:44 PM

Title: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: snappylt on May 23, 2013, 07:53:44 PM
{Does a question about mealtime etiquette in the past belong here, or is there a better spot?}

Back in the 1940's, was it acceptable polite behavior to prepare a dessert for a family meal but then deliberately not serve the dessert to the children?

This afternoon I listened to a recording of an old radio show from 1940.  It included a commercial for the sponsor (a brand of gelatin dessert mix that is still sold in the US today).  The announcer asked the listeners to remember how terrible they had felt as children when their families had served dessert at meals but had not allowed them (as children) to eat it.  Well, of course, he suggested that the listeners buy his brand of gelatin dessert because they could serve it to every member of their families, even their children.

Excuse me?

Was this just nonsense written up for an advertising campaign, or was it an accepted, polite behavior for dessert to be served to the adults but not the children at the same meal?
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: MorgnsGrl on May 23, 2013, 07:56:15 PM
Maybe the dessert had booze in it? That's my best guess.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Sharnita on May 23, 2013, 07:59:12 PM
I've never heard of that.  DO you think they were referring to desserts that had alcohol or maybe were considered "too rich" for a young child's sensitive tummy? It also just occurred to me that during part of the 40's sugar and other things were rationed and so dessert in general were rare treats and maybe sometimes were just served to adult guests.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Hillia on May 23, 2013, 08:08:53 PM
I think that many foods were felt to be too rich for children...things with lots of sugar, cream, slices would make them sick.  This held true for regular foods, not just desserts...children were fed bread and milk, porridge, eggs, etc.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Katana_Geldar on May 23, 2013, 08:22:12 PM
Various foods were supposed to give you indigestion. In o elf the Anne of Green Gables novels, one of the children is not allowed shortbread as it was seen as too rich for childrens stomachs.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: violinp on May 23, 2013, 09:21:45 PM
Various foods were supposed to give you indigestion. In o elf the Anne of Green Gables novels, one of the children is not allowed shortbread as it was seen as too rich for childrens stomachs.

POD. In the Elsie Dinsmore books, Horace (the father) bans most refined sugar foods and, I think, red meat from Elsie's diet. Then again, he also makes her live on bread and water while she's grounded (or the 1850's equivalent of grounding, anyway), so I'm not sure if he should be held up as a typical example of mid - 19th century parenting in food choices.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Twik on May 23, 2013, 10:19:36 PM
It sounds from the ad as if it were an economic choice - they couldn't afford to give dessert to everyone, so they reserved it for the adults, with higher caloric needs. Most of the parents targeted would have come through the Depression.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: 25wishes on May 24, 2013, 01:37:16 PM
Before veg. shortening was invented, pies were made with lard (the crust) and were considered very hard to digest and not suitable for kids. Perhaps that is what they referred to.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: gramma dishes on May 24, 2013, 01:50:08 PM
I was born in 1942. 

The custom back in the forties and fifties was (for most families I knew personally, as well as my own) that NO ONE, adult or child, was routinely served dessert.  Fruit was dessert, sugared or not.  Sugar and other ingredients were in short supply and relatively expensive during the depression and I think this was kind of a carry-over attitude.

Desserts were served for special events only:  Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, birthdays, etc.  But I never recall an instance where dessert, when it WAS served, was not made available for all dining participants, not just adults.  [Obviously if you were too young to eat "table food", then you were also too young for dessert.]
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: camlan on May 24, 2013, 01:55:04 PM
It sounds from the ad as if it were an economic choice - they couldn't afford to give dessert to everyone, so they reserved it for the adults, with higher caloric needs. Most of the parents targeted would have come through the Depression.

This is what I was thinking. During the Depression, many people simply couldn't afford dessert. When they were able to have some sweets, maybe they felt it was unhealthy for kids, or that it might make the kids sick.

But I've never seen any reference, in the many old etiquette books, housekeeping books or cooking books that I've read, to keeping children from eating dessert.

I know in the 40s and 50s, when my parents were in their 20s and 30s, dessert was an expected part of dinner. But it was simple--cookies or brownies or fruit. Layer cakes and ice cream and the like were special for Sundays or holidays.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Outdoor Girl on May 24, 2013, 02:00:27 PM
My parents were born in 1930 and 1934.  My brother and I were born in 1963 and 1968.  We rarely had dessert in our house unless it was a special occasion or there was company over, although there was often dessert with Sunday dinner, which was usually fancier than the rest of the week.  But we, as kids, were never served something different from the adults.  If we didn't like what was served, we could quietly get ourselves a cookie but that was about it.

When my brother and I left the house, when we came home for a visit, there would be dessert for at least one meal when we were home.  Now, with my Mom gone, it generally falls to me.  If it is just Dad and I, I don't bother but if my brother and/or nephews are there, at minimum, there will be vanilla ice cream with maple syrup.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Thipu1 on May 24, 2013, 02:07:09 PM
I have never heard of children not allowed to eat dessert. 

I was born in 1947 and was never denied dessert.  The dessert might have been fruit salad, a gelatin concoction or a simple cake but it was always there.  My mother grew up with four siblings during the depression. In that household a child would only be denied dessert if s/he had been naughty during the day.   
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: ladyknight1 on May 24, 2013, 02:07:41 PM
This is a very interesting thread.

DH's grandparents had lived through the Depression as young adults, and during DH's childhood 1971 - 1990, they had dessert every day. Usually canned pie filling in a graham cracker crust, with vanilla ice cream. Of course, his grandfather had a sweet tooth too, so it may have been a priority for him.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Sharnita on May 24, 2013, 02:20:37 PM
I was born in 1942. 

The custom back in the forties and fifties was (for most families I knew personally, as well as my own) that NO ONE, adult or child, was routinely served dessert.  Fruit was dessert, sugared or not.  Sugar and other ingredients were in short supply and relatively expensive during the depression and I think this was kind of a carry-over attitude.

Desserts were served for special events only:  Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, birthdays, etc.  But I never recall an instance where dessert, when it WAS served, was not made available for all dining participants, not just adults.  [Obviously if you were too young to eat "table food", then you were also too young for dessert.]

I was a child of the 80s and the same was true in our family.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Margo on May 24, 2013, 02:42:59 PM
I wonder if it may have varied depending on class and location.

I think that for a lot of families which were middle / upper middle class it was common for children to eat separately from the adults, and in those cases I think children sometimes got to sit with the adults at meal times but didn't get to eat everything which was served to the adults.

As others have said, there may well have been an element of believing that children should not have rich foods (especially just before going to bed) - I suspect gelatin based desserts would be seen as suitable for those delicate childish stomachs..

I seem to recall that there's a bit in the 'Diary of a Provincial Lady' about the Lady's son wanting to stay up for dinner - the compromise is he gets to stay up but only gets to eat his 'child's' supper rather than eating the same meal as his parents.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Outdoor Girl on May 24, 2013, 02:48:58 PM
A funny story about dessert.  Not so funny for my Aunt, at the time, mind you, but funny in the retelling.

My maternal grandmother passed away quite young.  Her oldest daughter, my Aunt, quit highschool to look after the household.  She would make dessert for supper and there would be half of it left and she would plan on it being dessert the next night, too.  But when my Uncle and my Mom got home from school, feeling a bit peckish, they'd dig in.  So my Aunt started hiding the leftover dessert.  Uncle and Mom would arrive home and Uncle would say, 'You make the tea; I'll find the cake!'  Aunt hid in the washing machine one time.

She'd get so mad that there wasn't enough dessert left for supper.  I think it was solved by my Uncle and my Mom not getting any and everyone else splitting what was left.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Sophia on May 24, 2013, 04:51:16 PM
That reminds me of one of the Rockwell Thanksgiving illustrations.  It shows the adults sitting around the dining table all proper with the proper dining utensils.  And a boy standing up and he has just grabbed some food from the table and it is on the way to his mouth.  As if it was normal for the kids to not be allowed to sit while eating.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Iris on May 24, 2013, 06:30:33 PM
Although I wasn't born anywhere near the '40s, my Grandmother had depression/WW2-era mentality and still made her pie crusts with lard. Desserts were a rare treat but we all got them, unless it were a trifle or something else with sherry. Even then, she usually made a kids version that we could eat. I remember growing up and having trifle with sherry for the very first time. I was SO disappointed - I greatly preferred the 'kid's' trifle (I still do if I'm honest).

OTOH my DD2 does react badly to some rich and sugary foods, especially near bedtime, so if we ate dessert I probably wouldn't let her have some. I would almost certainly set aside a small slice for her to enjoy for morning tea or something the next day, though.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Hmmmmm on May 24, 2013, 08:59:23 PM
My mom was born in 1931. In her family, the larger meal was served mid day and included some type of dessert. The lighter evening "supper" did not include dessert specific dessert but some one might have a piece of left over pie, or make their own dessert of cornbread crumbled with sweet milk or chocolate "gravy" topping the mornings left over biscuits.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Kimblee on May 24, 2013, 09:17:55 PM
That reminds me of one of the Rockwell Thanksgiving illustrations.  It shows the adults sitting around the dining table all proper with the proper dining utensils.  And a boy standing up and he has just grabbed some food from the table and it is on the way to his mouth.  As if it was normal for the kids to not be allowed to sit while eating.

We have a family photo album (of a branch of the family that NO ONE remembers knowing. They're fairy old, so i assume they are relatives of my great grandmother's and she just hasn't "clicked" on who they are in so long that she's forgotten. :( ) One is a picture of a holiday meal where the adults are all gathered around the table all dressed to the nines, with two of the ladies in jewelry and makeup balancing small kids on their lap, and a bunch of kids crowded on a loveseat at one end of the table. The only children on a chair are "the twins" (Who are the only ones we don't know the names of. Everyone else is labeled in these albums, but these two, a boy and a girl, who are always seated or standing together and labeled "The Twins" We have pictures of them from toddler age to teenage, at which point they just... disappear i guess. No more pictures of them.) each perched on half the chair seat and grinning devilishly at the camera.

Its assumed (among us) that they didn't have enough chairs and someone dragged a couch in. But none of the kids look like they are unwelcome, everyone is smiling and laughing and at ease. (which is a bit weird, other than the twins every other picture has solomn faces or careful, "portrait" smiles. The twins are always grinning.)

Its really a lovely picture. I just wish we knew them. I need to remember to ask my aunt for a copy of it next time we visit.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: cicero on May 25, 2013, 12:28:33 AM
The announcer asked the listeners to remember how terrible they had felt as children when their families had served dessert at meals but had not allowed them (as children) to eat it.  Well, of course, he suggested that the listeners buy his brand of gelatin dessert because they could serve it to every member of their families, even their children.

Based on the OP it sounds like the company is referring to desserts that were not children friendly ( I'm thinking soaked in booze). However, i am also thinking there may have been occasions where children were allowed to join the adults for dinner but sent to bed before dessert as it was too late or that they were served a different meal altogether in the kitchen. I'm not thinking of an everyday occurrence but a special occasion.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Figgie on May 25, 2013, 12:42:15 PM
When I was a kid, it was pretty common for children to be fed an early supper and for the adults to eat after the children were in bed.  And generally, the adults didn't eat the same food that was served to the children. :)

Desserts were for special occasions and considered to be too rich for children to have before bedtime.  Adult lives when I was growing up, had a great deal more separation between the adult events and children/adult events.  If my parents had a party, we didn't attend because it was an adult party.  We also weren't allowed to eat any of the party food, as it was for the guests, not us kids. :)

And for those parties (very casual) where children were invited along with adults, it was fairly typical to serve the adults something like steak and the children burgers and hotdogs.  It really wasn't so much a money saving measure, but a belief that rich food wasn't good for children's tummies.  None of us kids ever resented it and if we asked, we were told that when we were adults, then we would be able to eat/drink the things that adults did. :)
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Thipu1 on May 26, 2013, 09:59:06 AM
Something like this often happens at family gatherings.  The children almost always eat the same food as the adults but they're fed earlier so they can go play while the grown-ups can enjoy a fairly quiet meal. 

At more formal meals such as Thanksgiving, there's a children's table.  However, it's in the same area of the adult table and the parents often fix plates for their children. 

In Jane and Michael Stern's 'Square Meals' there's a chapter on children's food in the early part of the 20th century.  Food was supposed to build kids up and was often surprisingly rich. 
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: mbbored on May 27, 2013, 11:19:51 AM
Although I wasn't born anywhere near the '40s, my Grandmother had depression/WW2-era mentality and still made her pie crusts with lard. Desserts were a rare treat but we all got them, unless it were a trifle or something else with sherry. Even then, she usually made a kids version that we could eat. I remember growing up and having trifle with sherry for the very first time. I was SO disappointed - I greatly preferred the 'kid's' trifle (I still do if I'm honest).

OTOH my DD2 does react badly to some rich and sugary foods, especially near bedtime, so if we ate dessert I probably wouldn't let her have some. I would almost certainly set aside a small slice for her to enjoy for morning tea or something the next day, though.

Lard makes amazing pie crust. I have friends my age (20s and 30s) who buy lard just for their pastry.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Outdoor Girl on May 27, 2013, 12:01:44 PM
Although I wasn't born anywhere near the '40s, my Grandmother had depression/WW2-era mentality and still made her pie crusts with lard. Desserts were a rare treat but we all got them, unless it were a trifle or something else with sherry. Even then, she usually made a kids version that we could eat. I remember growing up and having trifle with sherry for the very first time. I was SO disappointed - I greatly preferred the 'kid's' trifle (I still do if I'm honest).

OTOH my DD2 does react badly to some rich and sugary foods, especially near bedtime, so if we ate dessert I probably wouldn't let her have some. I would almost certainly set aside a small slice for her to enjoy for morning tea or something the next day, though.

Lard makes amazing pie crust. I have friends my age (20s and 30s) who buy lard just for their pastry.

I still make my pie crust with lard.  There was an article in the paper the other day that while lard still isn't good for you, its fats are a lot more monounsaturated than butter and especially vegetable shortening, which contains a lot of trans fats.

I buy premade tart shells for buttertarts.  I buy ones made with lard and ones made without animal products for the couple of vegetarians I bake for.  The lard ones?  4 or 5 ingredients.  The non-lard ones?  About 10, with a bunch of them being chemically sounding things.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: JeseC on May 27, 2013, 01:18:26 PM
Something like this often happens at family gatherings.  The children almost always eat the same food as the adults but they're fed earlier so they can go play while the grown-ups can enjoy a fairly quiet meal. 

At more formal meals such as Thanksgiving, there's a children's table.  However, it's in the same area of the adult table and the parents often fix plates for their children. 

In Jane and Michael Stern's 'Square Meals' there's a chapter on children's food in the early part of the 20th century.  Food was supposed to build kids up and was often surprisingly rich.

My dad's family did this for the longest time.  I am quite grateful to him for finally insisting that his teenage daughter should be allowed to sit at the adult table, rather than with the little kids!
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: blarg314 on May 27, 2013, 01:48:56 PM

And for those parties (very casual) where children were invited along with adults, it was fairly typical to serve the adults something like steak and the children burgers and hotdogs.  It really wasn't so much a money saving measure, but a belief that rich food wasn't good for children's tummies. 

Which is pretty much the exact opposite of modern dietary advice, where identifiable meat like steak is considered much healthier and better for your stomach that the mystery/bottom grade ingredients of typical  hotdogs and hamburgers.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Iris on May 28, 2013, 04:15:45 AM
Although I wasn't born anywhere near the '40s, my Grandmother had depression/WW2-era mentality and still made her pie crusts with lard. Desserts were a rare treat but we all got them, unless it were a trifle or something else with sherry. Even then, she usually made a kids version that we could eat. I remember growing up and having trifle with sherry for the very first time. I was SO disappointed - I greatly preferred the 'kid's' trifle (I still do if I'm honest).

OTOH my DD2 does react badly to some rich and sugary foods, especially near bedtime, so if we ate dessert I probably wouldn't let her have some. I would almost certainly set aside a small slice for her to enjoy for morning tea or something the next day, though.

Lard makes amazing pie crust. I have friends my age (20s and 30s) who buy lard just for their pastry.

Well, her pie crusts are still legend throughout the family years after she is gone, so she was clearly doing *something* right.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: ladyknight1 on May 28, 2013, 08:46:01 AM
Something like this often happens at family gatherings.  The children almost always eat the same food as the adults but they're fed earlier so they can go play while the grown-ups can enjoy a fairly quiet meal. 

At more formal meals such as Thanksgiving, there's a children's table.  However, it's in the same area of the adult table and the parents often fix plates for their children. 

In Jane and Michael Stern's 'Square Meals' there's a chapter on children's food in the early part of the 20th century.  Food was supposed to build kids up and was often surprisingly rich.

My dad's family did this for the longest time.  I am quite grateful to him for finally insisting that his teenage daughter should be allowed to sit at the adult table, rather than with the little kids!

I am against the "children's table" concept. All guests should be treated equally, and I resented being placed at the children's table when I was 18 and no longer living at home.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: lady_disdain on May 28, 2013, 10:21:10 AM
As a child, I loved the children's table. I would sit with all my cousins and we would have a ball, while the adults sat and "talked" (how boring). At the same time, no one was barred from any of the tables (my fun loving aunt would often sit with us or move to our table after the meal) and any child who wanted could sit with the adults (and behave! No interrupting, state your opinions nicely and hear what others respond).

The only problem with children's table is when people are forced to sit there, even when they have outgrown it.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: gramma dishes on May 28, 2013, 10:23:01 AM
Our dining room table can only seat six comfortably.

Our kitchen table can also seat six comfortably, or seven slightly less so.

Our version of the "children's table" is that the Moms and Dads eat together in the dining room and the kids eat (the same exact food) in the kitchen, but Grandma and Grandpa (us) eat with the kids!! 

The five all boy cousins enjoy being together.  The older ones "help" the younger ones and the grandparents get to concentrate on the kids.  It's great and everyone in all three age groups looks forward to it.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: rose red on May 28, 2013, 10:58:49 AM
As a child, I loved the children's table. I would sit with all my cousins and we would have a ball, while the adults sat and "talked" (how boring). At the same time, no one was barred from any of the tables (my fun loving aunt would often sit with us or move to our table after the meal) and any child who wanted could sit with the adults (and behave! No interrupting, state your opinions nicely and hear what others respond).

The only problem with children's table is when people are forced to sit there, even when they have outgrown it.

This is my family's experience too.  No teenager or 20-something is forced to sit with 5 year olds unless they want to (and they often do!).  Children and teens often don't want to sit with the "adults" either, but are welcome if they need their parents for whatever reason. 

My family have 3 or 4 tables to mingle in, but usually drift into our own generation.  Food is the same for all the tables or we eat from a buffet.  There is no such thing as "children's food" in my family.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: ladyknight1 on May 28, 2013, 11:00:54 AM
The biggest problem is that I would be made the automatic babysitter, so would have to keep my very young cousins in line. Playing with them was great, but not getting to relax and enjoy a holiday meal for six years made me realize that we were not treated equally.

Mixed ages at different tables is great! That is what we do when we entertain.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Hmmmmm on May 28, 2013, 11:47:14 AM
As a child, I loved the children's table. I would sit with all my cousins and we would have a ball, while the adults sat and "talked" (how boring). At the same time, no one was barred from any of the tables (my fun loving aunt would often sit with us or move to our table after the meal) and any child who wanted could sit with the adults (and behave! No interrupting, state your opinions nicely and hear what others respond).

The only problem with children's table is when people are forced to sit there, even when they have outgrown it.

This is my family's experience too.  No teenager or 20-something is forced to sit with 5 year olds unless they want to (and they often do!).  Children and teens often don't want to sit with the "adults" either, but are welcome if they need their parents for whatever reason. 

My family have 3 or 4 tables to mingle in, but usually drift into our own generation.  Food is the same for all the tables or we eat from a buffet.  There is no such thing as "children's food" in my family.

This was common when I was young.  With my generation hosting, we never had enough kids of similar age at the same time to make a kid's table feasible. So it's always mixed.

One year when my kids were 6/8ish good friends of ours were joining our family for Thanksgiving. They also had 2 kids of similar ages and the 4 of them asked if they could set up a "kids table" since none of them had ever been sat at a kids table. And they did declare it a "kids only table". They refused to allow my 20 something nephew to join them and my 18 yr old nephew was allowed to have dessert with them but only after demonstrating that he could still suck a pea up through a straw.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Outdoor Girl on May 28, 2013, 01:59:13 PM
One year when my kids were 6/8ish good friends of ours were joining our family for Thanksgiving. They also had 2 kids of similar ages and the 4 of them asked if they could set up a "kids table" since none of them had ever been sat at a kids table. And they did declare it a "kids only table". They refused to allow my 20 something nephew to join them and my 18 yr old nephew was allowed to have dessert with them but only after demonstrating that he could still suck a pea up through a straw.

Now that's funny.   :D
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: JeseC on May 28, 2013, 09:33:53 PM
The biggest problem is that I would be made the automatic babysitter, so would have to keep my very young cousins in line. Playing with them was great, but not getting to relax and enjoy a holiday meal for six years made me realize that we were not treated equally.

Mixed ages at different tables is great! That is what we do when we entertain.

Ditto.  I'm older than any of my cousins by 8 years.  The kids table often was more of a babysitting job than a fun time.

Of course, the adults never seemed to talk about anything other than raising kids, so I ended up trying to eat by myself a lot!
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Nikko-chan on May 28, 2013, 09:59:30 PM
To this day if there are a lot of kids in attendance I am usually made to sit at the children's table.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: blue2000 on May 29, 2013, 06:12:40 AM
We sat at the 'children's table' until we all (well, most of us) had kids of our own. Now it is more of a 'young family' and 'old/single people' division. I don't have kids, so I miss out on talking to my cousins sometimes. :(
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: ladyknight1 on May 29, 2013, 07:13:55 AM
I am over 1000 miles away from my FOO, so we rarely get together. When we visit friends, we usually just have scattered tables around for people to sit where they like. I think that is a better solution.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Vall on May 29, 2013, 09:16:57 AM
My dad was born in the early 30's so I called him and asked him about this subject.  In his community, it was common to feed children in a separate room (with cheaper food) when company was visiting.  In his home, it was done due to the size of the dining room table and the cost of food.  He says that people would always offer their best to guests (sometimes to make themselves look more well-off than they actually were, and sometimes for just good hospitality).  This meant that the guests and the hosts ate differently than the children.  The children would be fed but they might not have dessert or even a special meat dish.  Children ate at the kitchen table or weather permitting, outside.

My dad's family were considered to be poor (share croppers).  Dad said that children of more affluent families were more likely to eat the same foods as their parents because their parents had the money to do so but in poorer families it was more common for children to be fed something cheaper when company was visiting.

While dad was talking, it reminded me of my XH's family.  XH had 11 siblings but only 5 were still living at home.  When we married in the early 80's, we briefly lived with his family.  Yes, the parents ate separately from their children and they had different (more expensive) food than what was served to the children.  When company came over, they ate with the parents.  It was just the way things were.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: *inviteseller on June 01, 2013, 05:16:06 PM
I love watching old shows and movies from the 40's - 60's, and kids, other than breakfast, usually eat before their parents and are in bed or elsewhere when mom & dad have supper.  I don't know about quality of food, but the theme seems to be dad has worked hard all day and mom wants him to have a nice quiet dinner without the kids (and I have had those days  ::) ) 
In my own family (I was born in 1966), we ate everything my dad did (and he was an adventurous cook), but when he remarried when I was 12 and 3 more kids were added to the house hold (to me & older sister), we all ate the same food, but my parents ate separate from us (same time tho) simply because the kitchen table and the dining room table just didn't have enough room for all of us to cram in at.  We actually didn't mind...us kids could get giggly and silly, parents could talk about their day and then we all spent most evenings together for a few hours where we interacted. 
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Thipu1 on June 02, 2013, 09:42:32 AM
Perhaps it was because I was an only child, but it was expected that I would eat with my parents and eat the same food.  It wasn't quite the same with friends.  One family would buy steak and then have what they called the 'tail' ground to make hamburger for the two children.  Theoretically, the whole family was eating the same meat but the equation wasn't exact.

The whole household being at the table at the same time was very important to my parents.  On occasion, my father had to work overtime and the timing of this was always iffy because it involved the unloading of a ship. 

  When that happened, my mother and I would have dinner at our normal time.  When Dad arrived home, he'd be served his meal and Mom and I would have a cup of tea at the table so he wouldn't be eating alone. 
 
I never encountered a children's table until I got married.  There weren't huge family meals for Christmas, Thanksgiving or Easter when I was a child in the 1950s.  We were a big family.  Each of
 my parents had four siblings.  All but two married and had children of their own. We all also lived within ten miles of each other. Because we were in constant contact, there was no need for catching up.   

The custom was for each household to have the Holiday dinner at home.  There was a flurry of phone
 calls in the morning and visits to my Grandparents for coffee and cake in the late afternoon. 

Only at events like Weddings or Funerals was the whole family in the same room at the same time. 
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: camlan on June 02, 2013, 10:40:12 AM
I was born in 1960. Growing up, all us kids ate dinner with Mom and Dad every night, eating the same food.

At big family get-togethers, there was usually a kids' table, but mostly because Dad was one of 6 kids. My two grandparents, their six children and their children's six spouses pretty much filled up the dining room. So the kids would be put at folding tables on the front porch in good weather (with the windows to the dining room open so the parents could hear what was going on), and in the front hall in the winter.

We *loved* the kids' table. No parents to supervise us. A good chance to talk with our cousins that we didn't see very often. The older kids were not babysitters, but they did try to keep things under control so that a parent would not feel the need to come out and investigate what was going on and spoil all our fun.

The really small children, babies and those under maybe 3 or 4, ate with the parents.

We all had the same food, unless there was something that Grandma felt the kids would not like. So the adults might get spinach, but the kids would get green beans. Although if a kid had asked for spinach, I'm sure they would have gotten some.

But then, Grandma was very enlightened for her day. If you (a child) didn't eat your whole dinner, at home with your parents you would not get dessert. But Grandma felt that the milk and eggs in her homemade puddings and ice cream were nutritious, so if you didn't eat all your vegetables, then you *needed* that ice cream to help keep up your strength.

As we all got older and more and more babies were born and the older cousins started getting married, the table in the dining room was for those who needed to sit at a table to eat--moms with babies, aunts with arthritis, that sort of thing. The rest of us scattered over the first floor--some sitting on the stairs, some in the library, some in the kitchen, some outdoors if the weather was good. (There could easily be 65-75 people at a family gathering.) So there was no official movement from kids' table to grownups' table, as the entire system changed.


Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: gmatoy on July 05, 2013, 08:26:22 PM
During WWII, sugar was rationed and desserts often had to be carefully planned in order to have enough sugar to make the recipe. So, my mother says, that if you were trying to serve something special, children were often served last or not at all.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: amandaelizabeth on July 05, 2013, 10:57:25 PM
Child if the mid fifties here.  It was common among my family and friends that if you did not eat all of your main course - and that meant a helping of everything - then you were not allowed dessert.  Perhaps the advert meant that their desserts were so good children would clear their plates in order to get some.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Browyn on July 06, 2013, 01:21:50 PM
I have also seen the two menus issue in my family.  Some elaborate fancy dessert - maybe with alcohol as an ingredient - for the adults; and something more kid friendly for the little ones, like ice cream.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Miss Understood on July 06, 2013, 11:50:48 PM
I'm just perplexed by the idea that dessert is considered a standard course for an everyday family meal.  In my family, and all my friends' families, dessert was reserved for special occasions (whether at home or at a restaurant) - not a daily thing.  Do/did most families serve dessert on a daily basis?  I can see how that could interfere with not only children's digestion, but adults' as well.

Unless there is an alcohol component to the dessert in question, I don't see a reason to restrict it to adults, but just the idea of making dessert plus the meal every day would have put my mother in fits.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: mechtilde on July 07, 2013, 06:57:32 AM
My Granny always cooked something for desert- it was often something very filling: a steamed sponge, a crumble, a pie and always served with custard. I suspect that during the twenties and thirties pudding was a good cheap way to fill up and have a lot of calories through flour, sugar, suet and margarine. This would have altered during WW2 as sugar and fat were strictly rationed.

She always made one for after lunch, and then had cake at teatime.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Sharnita on July 07, 2013, 07:43:19 AM
I'm just perplexed by the idea that dessert is considered a standard course for an everyday family meal.  In my family, and all my friends' families, dessert was reserved for special occasions (whether at home or at a restaurant) - not a daily thing.  Do/did most families serve dessert on a daily basis?  I can see how that could interfere with not only children's digestion, but adults' as well.

Unless there is an alcohol component to the dessert in question, I don't see a reason to restrict it to adults, but just the idea of making dessert plus the meal every day would have put my mother in fits.

Definitely not a regular thing in my family.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Thipu1 on July 07, 2013, 07:45:26 AM
I'm just perplexed by the idea that dessert is considered a standard course for an everyday family meal.  In my family, and all my friends' families, dessert was reserved for special occasions (whether at home or at a restaurant) - not a daily thing.  Do/did most families serve dessert on a daily basis?  I can see how that could interfere with not only children's digestion, but adults' as well.

Unless there is an alcohol component to the dessert in question, I don't see a reason to restrict it to adults, but just the idea of making dessert plus the meal every day would have put my mother in fits.

In our family, there was always something for dessert after dinner.  Usually, it was a simple cake or fruit pie.  It might just have been a dish of strawberries from the back yard but a meal wasn't considered dinner unless intended with something sweet. 

Yes, children were always included. 
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: camlan on July 07, 2013, 08:06:36 AM
I'm just perplexed by the idea that dessert is considered a standard course for an everyday family meal.  In my family, and all my friends' families, dessert was reserved for special occasions (whether at home or at a restaurant) - not a daily thing.  Do/did most families serve dessert on a daily basis?  I can see how that could interfere with not only children's digestion, but adults' as well.

Unless there is an alcohol component to the dessert in question, I don't see a reason to restrict it to adults, but just the idea of making dessert plus the meal every day would have put my mother in fits.

Growing up in the 60s, we had dessert every night. Nothing fancy, usually some cookies or brownies Mom had made, or Jello, or canned fruit. Sunday dinner dessert was usually ice cream, as a special treat. And Mom usually tucked a piece of fruit or a couple of cookies into our lunch bags as dessert. There was usually a slightly better dessert on Friday nights, to celebrate the end of the week and beginning of the weekend, like a layer cake.

But this wasn't the large amount of sweets that you might think. On a daily basis, the only sweets in the house were the cookies or brownies Mom made. We only got candy on holidays, like Christmas and Easter. We didn't have snacks like potato chips or pretzels. We had relentlessly healthy meals cooked by Mom, and fresh fruit for snacks. Sometimes we got graham crackers. I was the kid in the lunch room trading Mom's chocolate chip cookies for a Hostess cupcake, because that was the only way I'd ever get to eat one.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Yvaine on July 07, 2013, 09:18:56 PM
I'm just perplexed by the idea that dessert is considered a standard course for an everyday family meal.  In my family, and all my friends' families, dessert was reserved for special occasions (whether at home or at a restaurant) - not a daily thing.  Do/did most families serve dessert on a daily basis?  I can see how that could interfere with not only children's digestion, but adults' as well.

Unless there is an alcohol component to the dessert in question, I don't see a reason to restrict it to adults, but just the idea of making dessert plus the meal every day would have put my mother in fits.

We usually had some kind of dessert after dinner. Most days, this wasn't extra effort from Mom--it was something that came cheaply in packages divisible by six.  ;D I remember it being Little Debbie Star Crunches a lot. Saturday nights, we had ice cream; it was kind of a celebratory "it's Saturday" thing.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: magicdomino on July 08, 2013, 12:42:52 PM
I'm just perplexed by the idea that dessert is considered a standard course for an everyday family meal.  In my family, and all my friends' families, dessert was reserved for special occasions (whether at home or at a restaurant) - not a daily thing.  Do/did most families serve dessert on a daily basis?  I can see how that could interfere with not only children's digestion, but adults' as well.

Unless there is an alcohol component to the dessert in question, I don't see a reason to restrict it to adults, but just the idea of making dessert plus the meal every day would have put my mother in fits.

We didn't have dessert every day, but if there was something appropriate around, we might have some. Cakes and pies were more often for a mid-afternoon snack, though.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: Hmmmmm on July 08, 2013, 01:09:42 PM
I'm just perplexed by the idea that dessert is considered a standard course for an everyday family meal.  In my family, and all my friends' families, dessert was reserved for special occasions (whether at home or at a restaurant) - not a daily thing.  Do/did most families serve dessert on a daily basis?  I can see how that could interfere with not only children's digestion, but adults' as well.

Unless there is an alcohol component to the dessert in question, I don't see a reason to restrict it to adults, but just the idea of making dessert plus the meal every day would have put my mother in fits.

I was born in the mid-60's. We didn't have dessert every night, but it wasn't an uncommon thing. Icecream, some fresh fruit, brownies, pudding or jello were all typical week day desserts and we probably had them a few times a week.

Sunday dinner always had some type of dessert,typically a cobbler, pie or cake. Left overs might be eaten later in the week.

With my family now, I probably make some type of dessert weekly, sometimes more often. For the 4th I made a blueberry crumble with homemade peach ice cream. Yesterday I we had fresh strawberries drizzled with balsamic vinegar.  DS is wanting strawberry icebox pie so I've already bought the ingredients and will probably make it Wednesday night. I also have some left over blueberries that are starting to go bad so I'll probably make a 3 berry sorbet tomorrow and put in the freezer.

Not sure how dessert would impact digestion. If not kept to moderation, it could be increase caloric intake, but we believe everything in moderation. I'd rather have my kids eating a bowl of ice cream than munching on chips or cookies throughout the day.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: ladyknight1 on July 08, 2013, 05:03:12 PM
I was born in 1969 and we had some sort of sweet most nights after dinner. Usually something very simple, cookies or fruit, but occasionally my father would make his famous German chocolate cake. My mom often made sheet cakes, which are very easy.
Title: Re: Historical etiquette question - excluding children from desserts
Post by: LibraryLady on July 09, 2013, 09:51:23 AM
We always had something sweet for dessert.  That was the first thing we girls learned how to cook.  Daddy said it was "half a meal" without dessert.  If we were hungry when getting home from school, we had bread and jelly/preserves that mother/granny made during the summer.  My sister and I could make pie crusts for pie (I never use anything but Crisco) quicker that opening those horrible Pillsbury cardboard things from the refrigerator sections.  Pies, cakes, cookies; although we almost always scorched the cocoa/crisco mixture when making brownies  :-\