In the dark, pre-Instagram days, one remembered the dishes they ate not by snapping a photo, but by saving the menus (yes, the printed ones). Thanks to avid 19th Century menu enthusiast and collector Miss Frank E. Buttolph, the New York Public Library has an extensive collection of over 25,000 menus dating as far back as 1843. Interestingly, Buttolph, who donated her culinary treasure trove to the library at no-cost, was not the least bit interested in the foods listed on the menus, only their historical significance.
Below, check out ten antique menus from the database that provide interesting peeks into New York City life and dining from 1843 until 2008. Want to see more? Head to the New York Public Library's Digital Collections to see the full Buttolph Collection of Menus.