from The Blue Guide to Indiana (FC2, forthcoming 2001)
The Trans-Indiana Mayonnaise Pipeline
From Aurora in the east to East Chicago in the west
Visitors Center at Bennett's Switch, Intersection of US 31 and Indiana 18
Conceived and built during the first Eisenhower administration, the Trans-Indiana Mayonnaise Pipeline is the longest mayonnaise pipeline in the world. Designed to transport the viscous condiment from the oil rich soybean fields and efficient egg ranches of east central and north central Indiana to the bottling works of Kraft in Chicago, and Proctor and Gamble in Cincinnati, the Trans-Indiana pumps 3,000 barrels of sandwich spread a day through a system of five inch gauge refrigerated pvc tubing suspended above the lush green fields of legumes and free range chicken ranches. Pumping substations, spaced conveniently every ten miles along the route, provide the overlapping protection of massive condensing freon units and produce the sustained 89 pound per square inch pressure along the line. These stations also allow for local access to transmission by the myriad of Hoosier mom and pop mayonnaise entrepreneurs who add their product to the stream. The massive extent of this public work elicited extensive public debate in the fifties, pitting local conservation and trucking interests against the compelling national interest for a readily available, abundant, and inexpensive national source of salad and sandwich dressing. This confrontation has been credited with sparking the environmental movement in Indiana. The construction of the pipeline, it was argued, would disrupt the breeding grounds of the Greensburg Bison herd and disrupt its seasonal migration range between Muncie and Milan. In response to such concerns the pipeline follows an almost parallel course with Indiana's eastern border until it reaches Bethel above Richmond where it turns west into the interior. The pipeline also has, as part of its design, a series of buffalo ladders to facilitate the unencumbered migration of the Greensburg herd. One may glimpse portions of the pipeline best when the line intersects the north/south running turnpikes. When this occurs, the pipeline extends over the right-of-way in impressive sweeping white arches as underground construction would tempt freezing during the severe and sustained winters. The Visitors Center at Bennett's Switch has several dioramic displays of the line's construction, a working slurry valve and vacuum pump, a scale model of the pipeline used by the Army Corps of Engineers to simulate various contingencies affecting the project and its product flow, a documentary on the life cycle of the Greensburg Bison with several preserved specimens, and a period concession stand where the bologna sandwiches are dressed by mayonnaise fresh from the nearby continually throbbing pipeline.
Annual Baking Powder Festival
Commemorating the Great Explosion of 1879
Indiana is known as the Baking Powder Capital of the World. Many contemporary brands (including Rumford and Calumet) of the magical quick acting leavening agent, are still manufactured in or around Terre Haute, the result of an interesting historical confluence of events surrounding the controversy arising from the use of other ingredients in the mixture besides phosphate (see the entry on The Wars of Alum Succession). Less well known is that baking powder was invented in Fort Wayne in 1866 by the druggists Joseph and Cornelius Hoagland and Thomas Biddle in the backroom of their shop located at the corner of Calhoun and The Landing of the Erie and Wabash Canal and where, in various conditions, they continued to manufacture the product as Royal Baking Powder until 1905. According to Griswold's Pictorial History of Fort Wayne, "Joseph Hoagland declined an offer of $12 million for his holdings" in 1893. The current Old Drug Building at 526 Calhoun Street (on the National Register of Historic Places) replaced the original building devastated in a catastrophic 1879 explosion of the volatile chemicals used to produce the powder. The initial conflagration and the subsequent fire storm it sparked consumed five city blocks, destroyed the adjoining Nickel Plate Railroad yard and station, and unearthed the old canal which had been filled in fifteen years before. In commemoration of this event and in celebration of the original creation of the indispensable household product, the proud citizens of Fort Wayne hold a festival each spring featuring the largest cake walk in the world (according to several sources) and a gigantic outdoor pageant in which hundreds of grade school children enact the allegoric overthrow of European Yeast by the miracle of American pharmacological and nutritional science.
Recipes from Cooking Plain
by Helen Walker Linsenmeyer
Here is a selection of our favorite Midwestern recipes which suggest the diverse range of basic ingredients and satisfy nutritional requirements. The inventiveness of their preparation and presentation is also obvious. The following "taste" of Hoosier cuisine represents a few of the beloved preparations passed from generation to generation.
Indiana's other white meat here becomes the baker's secret ingredient. Salt pork steps in for other rich shortenings in this tasty treat, demonstrating, at the same time, the spontaneous improvisational spirit of Hoosier homemakers caught short on staples.
1 pound salt pork
2 cups boiling water
1 pound raisins, coarsely chopped
1/4 pound citron, shaved fine
1 pound dates (optional)
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups white flour (more if necessary)
teaspoon each cinnamon, ground clove, allspice, nutmeg, salt
Chop pork very fine or put through grinder using medium blade. Pour boiling water over it. Add raisins, citron, dates, and brown sugar, stirring well to soften fruit. Stir soda into molasses and blend with pork. Sift flour with spices and salt and beat into liquid mixture, adding more flour if needed for stiff batter. Turn into a large loaf pan or bundt ring which has been well greased and floured. Bake at 350 for an hour or more. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center of cake. If it comes out clean, cake is done. This cake will keep well if wrapped in foil or placed in tin container or dipped in liquid paraffin and allowed to harden. Powdered sugar may be dusted lightly over the top if desired.
The marshmallow, long identified as the coup de grace on many a Hoosier dessert, is now often employed as a colorful side dish in and of itself and has made its appearance beside croutons, bacon bits, and potato sticks on the many famous Indiana Salad Bars. (See the entry on The Thirty Years Salad Bar War.)
1 ounce gum arabic
3 1/2 ounces confectioners' extra fine sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Cover gum arabic (can be obtained from your pharmacy) with 4 tablespoons of water and let stand for an hour. Heat in a double boiler until dissolved. Strain through cheesecloth and whip in the sugar. Set over fairly low fire and beat constantly for 45 minutes until mixture fluffs to stiff white froth. Remove from fire and beat 2 or 3 minutes while cooling,.stirring in vanilla. Sift cornstarch into 8-by-8 inch pan to cover bottom, pour in the marshmallow mixture, smooth surface with back of spoon, and sift cornstarch lightly over the top. When cold, cut into squares with sharp knife dipped in cornstarch, roll squares in the starch, and pack in tin which can be tightly covered.
This exotic and creamy fromage, considered by most Indianans a downstate delicacy and specialty, is often made even more compelling by the addition of pinches of chopped chives or chopped parsley or by stirring in heaping spoonfuls of tangy tomato catsup.
1 gallon sour unpasteurized milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
sweet milk, about 2 tablespoons
Set a pan of sour, unpasteurized milk on stove over a very low flame or over the pilot light and allow to remain until the whey rises to the top. Do not let boil as this will cause cheese to become hard and tough. Pour into cloth bag and let it drain for two or three hours. Remove from bag and chop fine with spoon. Add salt and butter and sufficient sweet milk to soften. Refrigerate or set in cool place.
SNOW ICE CREAM
Made famous by the continental chefs of the Resort at West Baden Springs where the dessert, it is said, was concocted for either Al Capone or President Harding, snow ice cream has become a standard confection at many of the state's four star hotels and ballroom venues including the Indiana Roof in Indianapolis, the Hotel Roberts in Muncie, the Toboggan Run at Pokagon State Park, and Chez Michel Jackson in Gary.
1 heaping china bowl of freshly fallen snow
maple syrup or warmed honey
some more snow
Fill china bowl with snow, pour syrup or honey over it, and set bowl outside again nested in more snow. Wait awhile. Serve with chilled silver spoon and eat immediately.
The Annual Eyeless Fish Fry
Sponsored each fall by the Marengo Volunteer Fire Department, the annual Eyeless Fish Fry has become a staple of the southern Indiana foliage season. Marengo, located next to the Hoosier National Forest and upon the geological limestone karst plain of disappearing rivers and massive underground caverns, attracts thousands each year for the scenery and the fine eating. The many caves of the region provide perfect habitat for the local species of eyeless catfish that have, in their totally lightless environment, evolved without any need of light sensing apparatus. The darkness in which they spawn has also bleached their flesh to an almost translucent milky white, adding to their reputation as "the milk-fed veal of game fish." The dinner is preceded by the much photographed eyeless fish round-up in which members of the volunteer fire department wrangle schools of the ghostly fish up the subterranean river to the antique fish weirs where the appropriate sized specimens are speared for the catch and the fingerlings allowed to return to the inky depths. The fry itself takes place in specially converted Airstream trailers and the dinners are eaten alfresco on picnic tables constructed from southern Indiana hardwoods. The unseasoned bread-battered fillets of fish are served with the head as garnish and dipped in tartar sauce made from mayonnaise imported from the Trans-Indiana Mayonnaise Pipeline. Side dishes include potato, macaroni, and pea salads, though the purist accompanies the dish simply with a crustless slice of white bread dipped quickly in the boiling deep fat rendered from Hoosier hogs. Games accompany the feast, most employing a variations of blindfolding, include pin the eye on the fish and blindman's bluff as well as a pinata-like game in which children, while hooded, whack a papier mache fish in hopes of breaking open the prize of glass marbles stuffing.
Founded in 1876 by a group of Union veterans who first tasted root beer and sarsaparilla captured from Confederate troops while campaigning in the South during Sherman's siege of Atlanta and subsequent march to the sea, KokomoKola Korp. has manufactured its own brand of successful soft drink ever since. Advertised as "The Refreshment That Gives Pause," KokomoKola continues to be the world's best selling soda pop, made with carbonated milk and a secret formula of fat soluble ingredients known only to the five surviving descendants of the founders. The headquarters building and original bottling plant on US Highway 31 north of the city is open for visitors daily. At the end of of the guided tour there is a tasting room where guests sample a wide selection of the company's product line including its skim and 2 percent lines as well as its vanilla, colby, and ranch flavored varieties. Nearby is the gift shop stocked with the famous proprietary merchandise, both antique reproductions and contemporary limited editions, including the rare Milk of Magnesia six packs and a few precious examples of the delicious Galax-ola special reserve label produced each spring with carbonation imported from the Pluto Spring (If Nature Can't Pluto Will!) of French Lick, Indiana. Leave an additional hour, at least, to explore the adjacent park grounds and farm yards landscaped by the architect Michael Graves and featuring a series of milk fountains, and a playful (though tame) herd of rare Dexter cows. There is punting, too, upon the vast holding ponds where the microscopic colonies of sweet acidophilus bacteria are nurtured on organic matter syphoned from the White River.