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Wednesday, October 19, 2005 Bookmark Now! | Email to a friend  

How did Thousand Island Dressing get its name?

With a toss of lettuce and a sprinkling of croutons, I searched for the "history of thousand-island salad dressing." This led me to the original birthplace of the creamy condiment. This slightly sweet, chunky salad dressing got its name from the Thousand Islands area of upstate New York. The region is filled with about 1,800 islands and stretches along the St. Lawrence River to Lake Ontario, reaching into both the U.S. and Canada. In the 1870s, vacationers discovered the area and began building summer homes and hotels.

In the early 20th century, Sophia LaLonde of Clayton, N.Y., served the dressing at dinner for guests of her husband, who was a popular fishing guide. One of the dinner guests was leading actress May Irwin. It was Irwin who christened the dressing with the Thousand Island name, and the dressing was served by Irwin's request at the Herald Hotel in Clayton. The actress also introduced the dressing to the wider world when she gave LaLonde's recipe to the owner of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.

Thousand Island Dressing is a variation on the so-called Russian dressing popular around the time, which consisted of a yogurt base with chili sauce or ketchup added for flavor. Early Thousand Island recipes used mayonnaise instead of yogurt and added pickle relish, chives, and sometimes chopped hard-boiled eggs. In the 1950s, Thousand Island Dressing made of mayo, ketchup, and pickle relish became a standard condiment, used on sandwiches and salads alike.

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