File this excerpt, from the newly published “A Culinary History of Downeast Maine” under the heading Who Knew?! The slim book, more of a booklet really, offers recipes, history and historical black-and-white photos. This excerpt, about Ford Motor Co. founder Henry Ford and his affection for soybeans, is taken from Chapter 4, “Early Tourism and Growth Expansion of New Foods and Ingredients.”

You can also find a recipe for Model T Crackers in “A Culinary History,” which came from Jan Willemse, Ford’s personal chef. The crackers are made from soybean flour, soybean margarine and soy milk.

Henry Ford, left, with Thomas Edison, center, and Harvey Firestone. Ford, who had a summer home on Mount Desert Island, had an abiding interest in soybeans, both for manufacturing and eating. Associated Press




“Henry Ford was one of the early rusticators who came to Mount Desert Island, and his son, Edsel, had a home in Seal Harbor, Maine, called Skylands. It is now owned by Martha Stewart.

“Many people associate Henry Ford with the invention of the automobile assembly line, but Ford was an early pioneer in the area of soy production. He felt that the soybean was the possible answer to many problems in the world, and promoted its use in cooking, healthcare and car parts. He thought that the cow was a poor choice to get milk. He asked, ‘Why feed cows and then have to milk them when you could just have soy milk?’ He had an experimental station in Dearborn, Michigan, where he studied soy food properties and introduced an all-soy menu at the 1934 Exposition in Chicago. He also felt that the automobile industry could benefit from the soybean to make car parts and shellac. The 1908 Model T Ford was the first automobile to have parts that were grown from soy plants and made from ground soy… He felt that ‘one should go to the earth for solutions.’

Menu of Dinner Served at Ford Exhibit, Century of Progress, August 17, 1934

Tomato Juice Seasoned with Soy Bean Sauce

Salted Soy Beans

Celery Stuffed with Soy Bean Cheese

Puree of Soy Bean

Soy Bean Cracker

Soy Bean Croquettes with Tomato Sauce

Buttered Green Soy Beans

Pineapple Ring with Soy Bean Cheese and Soy Bean Dressing

Soy Beans Bread with Soy Bean Relish

Soy Bean Macaroons

Apple Pie (Soy Bean Crust)

Soy Bean Coffee

Assorted Soy Bean Cookies

Soy Bean Cakes

Assorted Soy Bean Candy”


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