Celebrate 100th Birthday With These Recipes

Celebrate 100th Birthday With These Recipes

Celebrate 100th Birthday With These Recipes

America isn’t the only one celebrating a birthday on the Fourth of July. The Caesar salad is also marking a special anniversary.

The beloved classic turns 100 this month and in honor of the occasion, we’re serving up a bit of history on the legendary mix of romaine, Parmesan cheese, croutons and one-of-a-kind salad dressing.

It’s fair to say that most everyone’s a fan of the iconic dish, including Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager, who called it “the perfect meal,” and commemorated the salad’s big day by diving into a couple of Caesars of their own during a segment on Hoda & Jenna that aired on July 4.

“The Caesar salad is just really lettuce covered with delicious cream, cheese and bread,” Jenna said laughing, adding that when she was young, she thought she was “cool” ordering a salad, even though it was mostly made up of dressing and croutons.

And Hoda? She apparently likes her romaine lettuce fired up on the grill before piling on the toppings. “There’s nothing better,” said the TODAY co-host.

Caesar salad superfan and chef Molly Baz also took time away from the Fourth of July festivities to pay homage to the dish: “I’m not rlly one to celebrate the birth of inanimate objects but today is the 100th birthday of the all mighty CAE SAL and i think we can all agree that i wouldn’t be the woman that i am if not for its existence. happy birthday, baby. here’s to 100 more.” she wrote in an Instagram post on July 4.

Since its inception back in 1924, foodies the world over have indulged in this fine-dining staple and chefs have found countless ways to reinvent the unique salad.

But where did the Caesar originate? How did the name come about? What ingredients are in the original Caesar salad recipe? We answer those questions and more, plus provide some fun trivia facts to whip out at the dinner table.

Origin of the caesar salad

When it comes to the history of the famous salad, there are two schools of thought on how the dish originated.

The first, and most widely accepted, credits restaurateur and Italian immigrant, Caesar Cardini, for creating the salad. According to the Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, Cardini owned a series of restaurants in Tijuana, Mexico. On July 4, 1924, Cardini is said to have prepared a salad intended to be served as a main course.

The dish was comprised of romaine lettuce, croutons and distinctive dressing made from olive oil, egg, garlic, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce.

The new salad was a bona fide hit. In fact, the dish was so popular that years later, it would be deemed the “greatest recipe to originate from the Americas in fifty years” by the International Society of Epicures in Paris.

Cardini began bottling and selling his renowned dressing and in 1948, the recipe was patented under the name “Cardini’s Original Caesar Dressing Mix.”

After his death in 1956, his daughter Rosa Marie took over the multimillion-dollar family business, according to the LA Times, before she eventually sold the company in 1988.

The second, competing, origin story suggests a Chicago chef named Giacomo Junia conceived the salad idea, which is made up of the same ingredients, then named his version of the dish after the Roman emperor, Julius Caesar.

And it’s not just the history of the salad that’s controversial, but one of its ingredients: anchovies.

For some, a Ceasar isn’t a Ceasar without the addition of the divisive little fish, while others contend that a Caesar isn’t proper if it includes them.

According to the LA Times article, the Carini family was firmly against adding anchovies to the Caesar salad dressing. Period. The Encyclopedia of Food and Drink is in agreement, stating, “Cardini was adamant in insisting that the salad be subtly flavored and argued against the inclusion of anchovies.”

Instead, Cardini believed the flavor come from the addition of the Worcester sauce, Italian olive oil and Parmesan cheese.

Caesar salad trivia

In the past 100 years that the salad has been in existence, there have been countless iterations. Naturally, the chicken Caesar comes to mind; A staple at many restaurants and a popular choice for both lunch and dinner.

Other versions of the iconic salad include adding steak or shrimp and some skip the romaine altogether and use kale or other kinds of lettuce. Still others include more ingredients than Cardini’s original recipe, adding tomatoes, cucumbers and other salad staples to the mix.

However you prefer your Caesar, here are a few fun facts to keep in mind the next time you enjoy one.

  • Tradition holds that a true Caesar salad is prepared fresh at the table when being served at a restaurant.
  • There are approximately 160 calories in two tablespoons of Caesar salad dressing.
  • In 1988, Rose Cardini made a “super Caesar” salad for 3,000 people over Super Bowl weekend.
  • Cardini’s Caesar salad dressing is still sold at grocery stores today.
  • According to the USDA, in 2022, romaine lettuce accounted for $1.54 billion in lettuce sales.
  • In order to qualify as true Parmesan cheese, the popular variety must be aged for at least 12 months.
  • Ruth Chris, Capital Grille, The Cheesecake Factory, Carrabba’s and Applebee’s are just a few popular chain restaurants that offer Caesar salads on their menu.

Caeser salad recipes

Grilled Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons

Matt Armendariz

Grilled Caesar Salad

Morgan Baker for TODAY

Molly Baz's Cae Sal

Peden + Munk

Ina Garten's Caesar Salad

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Grilled Broccoli Caesar Salad

Karen Akunowicz

Ultimate Chicken Caesar Wraps

Nate Congleton / TODAY

Caesar Chicken Thighs with Broccoli

Nina Elder