top of page
 Food Zone Map

"The Food focal exhibit was located in Food Building No. 3 (Food South) on Agricultural Row. Distinctive features of this rhomboidal structure were four tall golden shafts resembling stalks of wheat, and, on the facade facing Lincoln Spqure, Witold Gordon's mural depecting food as a source of energy and health." - Opening paragraph from the Official 1939 Guide Book (hard cover)."

National Biscuit Company (Food North)

The company showed Walt Disney's "Mickey's Surprise Party" in its intimate movie theater. The plot involved Mickey saving the day with Nabisco products after Minnie burned the biscuits

Disney produced the five-minute Technicolor cartoon for $41,000."

Nabisco Biscuit Company

Mickey's Surprise Party

Tidbits header for the food zone
Fun Food Facts ↓
We wanna get a hamburg, Wow
Oh, smell those onions ripe!
We gotta get a hamburg now –
The special World's Fair type.

A hamburger! I'll go for that!
I'll take a hot dog, too.
I knew we'd all find something at
The fair we all could do!
Momma, Poppa and Kids
Hot Dogs ↓
  • Comments heard at the Childs kiosks: "What? No onions, no ketchup?" "do you toast the rolls?" "Gimme one that's split open." "Where is the Periscope?" "Must be hot back there, huh?" "Make mine done." "Where I come from they give you a toasted roll, butter, lettuce, tomato, onion and a pickle." "Gimme the third one from the end." "Now, I don't like a roll – just a hot dog."
  • On his promotional tour through the mid-west, Mayor La Guardia attempted to counter the Chicago newspapers' claims that hot dogs cost up to $50.00 at the fair.
  • Mayokok, Seeluk, and their four children (the Eskimo family from the Amusement Zone) tried hot dogs but said they preferred reindeer meat.
  • Venezuelan officials complained about a hot dog stand located near their orchid exhibit. Although it was actually a soda and ham sandwich booth, fair officials obliged by tearing the offending kiosk down.
  • Westbrook Pegler wrote a New Yorker's paean to "that habit -forming sausage": "New York will have nothing to do with popcorn, a Western delicacy, and attempts to popularize it at the New York ball parks were expensive failures. The notion that the dog is vulgar and that therefore it was socially unseemly to serve the same to Britannic Majesties vanishes when it is known that practically all the richest, and therefore, or course, the very best, Americans eat hot dogs."
  • Doc Rockwell, a noted comedian, stated on Rudy Vallee's radio show that while on vacation at the World's Fair, he paid $1.00 for a hot dog and fifty cents for the accompanying mustard. Chaos ensued in "The World of Tomorrow." Vallee immediately extended an invitation to Grover Whalen to appear on his program in order to right the wrong and the Fair's president accepted.
Hamburgers ↓
"Go get a hamburg! Some may say.
"You'll find 'em cheap and quite tremendous"
But hamburgers don't seem some way
To blend with this fair so stupendous.

H. I. Phillips

  • "Look, dear – they got square hamburgers."
  • No onions accompanied hamburgers, due to their "fragrance." Childs defended this decision as young women didn't want "onion breath" when on an outing with a young man. Also, the concessionaires insisted the relish contained onion.
Doughnuts ↓
  • On the first four days of the fair, the Mayflower Doughnut Casino sold 1,000,020 doughnuts. By September 1, the company sold 7,650,000 doughnuts, a World's Fair record.
  • An unknown individual left Winifred Weiss, a Mayflower waitress, a wristwatch as a tip.
  • Photographers caught socialite Brenda Frazier dunking a doughnut at the Doughnut Corporation of America stand. For those patrons unsure how to properly dunk a doughnut, the Doughnut Palace provided a young, professional woman to assist. Evelyn Orr insisted partakers should only dunk a small portion at a time and "cultivate a smooth rhythm necessary to the full enjoyment and dignity attendant upon the art." William Norris, doughnut chef for the fair, decided a larger holed doughnut would make dunking easier, however.
  • For the "bashful dunkers" who believed public doughnut dunking undignified, Mayflower provided private dunking booths. They located six at the Doughnut Casino and Six at the Doughnut Palace. Ten of the booths, slightly larger than a phone booth, were meant for a single person and two could hold a duo. However, the concession soon discovered their private booths being used for other purposes. One mother, intent on riding the Parachute Jump, parked her two small children in a booth before taking the plunge.
  • The National Dunking Association opened a doughnut dunking bar to encourage "good cheer and fellowship." Winold Reiss, a New York University professor of mural painting, insisted: "Dunking makes for peace and good fellowship, which certainly are greatly needed in these times."
  • The Mayflower Court offered a contest for youngsters under the age of fourteen. The participants had to dunk and consume a doughnut and then whistle for a prize. Judges included West Virginia Representative Jennings Randolph and comedian Milton Berle. The panel awarded twelve-year-old Joseph Rubolotti the championship.
  • Vaudevillians Willie and Eugene Howard, two of America's earliest openly Jewish entertainers, opened the Mayflower concession.
  • The Doughnut Palace proffered sixty varieties of doughnuts, including two new offerings: whole wheat doughnuts and cinnamon sugar coated.
  • The British Doughnut Company, Ltd. requested officials at the Great Britain pavilion rush American doughnut-making machinery to London.
Cold Drinks ↓
  • The Fair's police force cracked down on an unusual smuggling ring. For the fairgoers' convenience, the concessionaires placed racks for empty bottles beside all benches. Enterprising young entrepreneurs absconded with the bottles and smuggled them off the fairgrounds for a two cent return. Critics complained that the boxes provided for the empties, painted yellow with the Coke label in red, "look glaringly cheap."
  • Three Boy Scouts sat on the edge of the Court of Light's fountain for half an hour trying to determine if a Coke or ginger ale bottle sank faster.
  • Coca cola, the Fair's official soda pop, was made on the grounds in the Food South Building. The machine filled 126 bottles a minute, or 16,692,480 for the entire fair's run.
  • A dispute raged at Billy Rose's Aquacade over the selling of cold drinks. While Coke held the exclusive concession for the fair, they refused Rose's request for $7,500 to sell their product at his water show. Therefore, he signed an agreement with Pepsi Cola to be the exclusive soda pop at his enterprise. The fair's attorneys grappled with this conundrum. Finally, the Queens Supreme Court ruled Billy Rose' private contract with Pepsi as valid.
  • On the fair's first exceptionally hot day, Sunday, May 28, the cold drink concessionaires ran out of Coca cola by noon.
  • As of May 15, patrons broke $1,000 worth of glasses at the root beer stands.
Other Culinary Delights ↓
  • The fair introduced a new sherbet – nectarine frappe.
  • White capped chefs served crepe suzettes at three stands scattered around the fair grounds. The Brooklyn Eagle's food "critic" thought they tasted like "the ordinary blintzes such as grace many a Hebrew festive board."
  • Concessionaires opened their roast beef sandwich stands twenty-four hours a day to encourage business from the fair's maintenance workers.
  • All of the waitresses at the orange drink stands were blonds, to match their drinks.
  • An impish young man sold the orange drinks with this come-on: "Come and get the Drink of Tomorrow. If you don't buy it today, I'll have to sell it tomorrow."
  • Bottles of foreign alcohol carried labels: "Imported solely for us in _______ pavilion."
Picnic Baskets ↓
  • A worried woman approached a fair guide with a huge quandary. Earlier in the day, she placed her lunch in a locker and now could not find the locker. The helpful guide retraced the woman's steps and located the missing lunch. As a thank you, she offered the gentleman her spare cream cheese and jelly sandwich, which he refused due to fair policy.
  • In response to complaints about the high price of food on the grounds, the fair opened three sites for picnicking: beside the Long Island Railroad terminal, near the Westinghouse pavilion, and in the Amusement Zone north of the boat house. Picnickers immediately complained about the lack of tables and shade in the designated areas. Fairgoers took their own action. One lady confiscated a telephone booth and kept the door open for air while she ate her lunch. Others moved to the more attractive grass plots causing fair officials to replace the gentler "Please keep off" signs to the more insistent "Keep Off!"

Return to:
World's Fair Films