Tuesday, March 07, 2023

History of Russian dressing

Russian dressing is not Russian and it is not for salads, but more of a sandwich spread – usually a Reuben. Russian dressing is a creamy, slightly spicy, salmon-hued spread made from mayonnaise, ketchup, sour cream, prepared horseradish, and dill relish.

The mayo and ketchup concoction was created in Nashua, New Hampshire. The earliest reference to Russian dressing, is from a 1911 menu for the Gridiron Club. Salads with Russian dressing were fashionable before World War I.

It was grocer James E. Colburn who invented the spread. Colburn had been selling "Colburn's Mayonnaise salad dressing" at his store since at least 1910. While running that business he hit upon the idea of a Russian salad dressing. By 1914, Colburn's company was manufacturing it, and distributing it to retailers and hotels.

The Washington Post cites the 1927 text, which says Colburn sold the condiment to “retailers and hotels across the country, earning ‘wealth on which he was enabled to retire.’”

Contrary to its name, it did not originate in Russia but rather was supposedly created in New Hampshire and called “Russian dressing” because it originally contained caviar, a staple of Russian cuisine. Some say Colburn liked to mix in caviar, or perhaps because it sometimes was added to the Russian-inspired Salad Olivier.
History of Russian dressing