Save the Deli

NYPL: Mogen Dovid Delicatessen Journals

Here’s a special shabbat treat for you all:

When I was researching the book, I often came across references to various delicatessen trade magazines from the early 20th century in New York. Despite my efforts to find them at various libraries, I never succeeded, and moved my research efforts elsewhere (mostly eating deli). Thankfully, others aren’t so easily deterred.

Rebecca Federman writes last week on the blog of the New York Public Library about the Mogen Dovid Delicatessen Journals.

I was introduced to these periodicals by Roberta Saltzman, the librarian in the Dorot Jewish Division, who has cultivated a world-class collection of Jewish cookery materials. Among the fascinating items in her collection is the Mogen Dovid Delicatessen Magazine, published in New York from 1930 until 1939.

Firmly union (“Live and Let Live” and “In Union there is Strength” are prominently featured on each issue), and printed in both English and Yiddish, Mogen Dovid covers the world of New York delicatessen culture and features articles related to racketeering, Brooklyn elections, trade overhead and union matters.

One of the most interesting parts of each issue is their Fair Price List which lists “at which the following food should be sold in all delicatessen stores.” The March, 1931 issue, for example, proposes that roast chicken (depending on its size) should cost between $1.50 and $2.50; the Temptation Sandwich (tongue, sliced tomato, and India relish) should cost 30 cents; cream cheese and olive sandwich, 20 cents, and a sardine sandwich, 15 cents.


How cool is this? If any of you have ephemera like this, and want to donate it to the New York Public Library, get in touch with Ms. Federman. If you want, we’re both going to be speaking tomorrow on a panel about Edible Archaeology at Foodprint NYC, along with “Appetite City” author William Grimes, and “Gastropolis” author Annie Hauck-Lawson.

Studio-X (180 Varick St., Suite 1610, New York, NY 10014)

My panel is from 3:30-5pm, but there’s stuff happening from 1pm onward.

oh, and it’s Free!

3 Responses to “NYPL: Mogen Dovid Delicatessen Journals”

  1. Aredee Says:

    A corned beef sandwich for 15 cents (sob)

  2. Lauren Says:

    david– am i missing something– did you say what date you are speaking. I see the time but not the date.

  3. Avrum Shapiro Says:

    This is making me so Hungry! These Sandwiches like olive and cream cheese sound like an orderv rather than a real one.How bout Cream Cheese and Sardines Yumm!

    How bout a Deli-Tour ?

    Le Chaim!, Avrum

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