the history of salads

What comes to your mind when you think of the word “salad”? Do you picture a boring plate of leafy greens? Do you associate salad with some calorie-deficient diet? Or does your mouth start to water as you visualize a colorful plate filled with a variety of vegetables, proteins, toppings, and dressing? Whatever your vision, one thing is for sure… there is not just one way to make a salad! Let’s dive into the history of salads to learn more about one of the most diverse items on a menu.

Where Did Salads Originate?

Salads date back to the Roman era. Ancient Romans and Greeks enjoyed a variety of dishes with raw vegetables dressed with oil, vinegar, lemon juice and herbs. These dishes were easy to create because they did not require a fire for cooking, and they saved fuel. Salads were simply an assortment of garden vegetables that were easy to access. The convenience and the health benefits appealed to many. After the fall of Rome, salads lost popularity. Europeans still recognized the nutritional and medicinal benefits of eating raw vegetables, but not in a salad form.

Fast forward to the end of the 19th century when mixed green salads became widely known in the United States. It was common to add more protein to them such as cooked chicken, steak, or shrimp. Entire cookbooks were devoted to creating combinations for salad! In fact, you could eat a salad a day for a whole year and never repeat the same combination! Today, American salads vary from the basic lettuce, tomato and cucumber drizzled in dressing to more creative offerings of greens and noodles with Asian inspired dressings such as the Thai salad at Toss Salads & Wraps. Salads made with quinoa and fruit toppings have gained popularity, too.

Where Did the Word Salad Come From?

The root of the word salad is ‘sal’, which is a Latin word meaning salt. Then came along the word salata, which means salted things. Most salad dressings contain salt. Do you see the correlation? A key ingredient of salad is the dressing. No wonder why the Toss Salads & Wraps menu has 18 different salad dressings for you to choose from!


What is the History of the Most Common Salads?

The Cobb Salad: Cobb salad was invented in a Hollywood restaurant and named after the owner Robert Cobb. According to Walter Scharfe, later president of the Brown Derby Restaurants, “…its origin was quite by accident. One evening the original owner, Robert H. Cobb, went to the icebox and found an avocado, which he chopped with lettuce, celery, tomatoes, and strips of bacon. Later he embellished it with breast of chicken, chives, hard-boiled egg, watercress, and a wedge of Roquefort cheese for dressing, and the salad was on its way to earning an international reputation.” The ingredients can be remembered using the mnemonic EAT COBB: eggs, avocado, tomato, chicken, onion, bacon, and blue cheese. Check out the Cobb Salad at Toss Salads & Wraps here!

The Caesar Salad: Many people think the Caesar salad was named after Julius Caesar — it’s not. Caesar salad was not even born in Italy. It was first created in Tijuana, Mexico in the 1920s by an Italian born restaurant owner. Today, the ingredients in a Caesar salad vary from place to place, but the original recipe had six ingredients: full stalks of lettuce, raw egg, olive oil, croutons, parmesan cheese, and Worcestershire sauce. Caesar dressing had not been invented yet. Check out the Caesar Salad at Toss Salads & Wraps here!

The Greek Salad: The origin of the Greek salad did originate with the Greeks. Finally, truth behind a name! To be precise, in the Greek language this salad is “Horyatiki salada”, which literally means “Village salad”. The name suits it well because the composition of the salad includes all those ingredients that are available to the villagers, especially in the summer, when all the necessary vegetables ripen in the garden beds. Check out the Greek Salad at Toss Salads & Wraps here!

                                                                                          What are Some Fun Facts about Salad?

Is Salad Just Served as an Appetizer?

Salads are not just appetizers. The history of salads being served at the beginning of a meal was a practice initiated by the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates. Hippocrates believed that eating raw vegetables was a healthier way to eat. He reasoned that if people ingested an assortment of raw vegetables before consuming the bulk of their meals it would aid in digestion. While it is true that vegetables are high in fiber and readily glide through our digestive systems, it is not necessary to eat them before a large meal. Although being at a restaurant and having a salad come out first does give the hungry customer a sort of satisfaction and patience as they wait for their entrée! Salads have made their way onto menus all around the world. Some choose them as a lighter food option, while others pile them high for well-rounded nutritional benefits as a full meal. At Toss Salads & Wraps, you have the option to add vegetables, fruits, proteins, nuts, cheeses and so much more. Have you seen the massive menu at Toss?


How Did Iceburg Lettuce Get its Name?

The Iceberg lettuce was known as Crisphead lettuce. It was originally named for its ice white color and crunchy texture, but the name that we are familiar with reflects its icy method of shipment on the Trans Atlantic railroad. Its name comes from the way lettuce was originally packed and transported on crushed ice, making the heads look like icebergs, notes Tanimura & Antle, a Salinas, California-based produce company that started growing and selling iceberg lettuce in the 1920s.

Will the History of Salads Always Live On?

Absolutely without a doubt! Most salads contain all the ingredients to make it a full and wholesome meal. But more than that, salads are visually appealing. A bowl of salad is quite possibly the most colorful thing that you can eat. Before we eat with our mouths, we eat with our eyes. So pile those ingredients high! You can build a salad at TOSS Salads & Wraps to have everything the body needs: lots of vitamins and fibers from the vegetables, carbohydrates and more fibers from any accompanying whole grains, good fatty acids from olive oil, avocado or egg additions, proteins from vegetables, meat, fish or eggs, and electrolytes such as sodium (from salt) and minerals such as calcium (from a tomato).

A study, conducted by the UCLA School of Public Health, and published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (JADA), found that those who eat salads and raw vegetables with salad dressing have considerably higher levels of vitamins C, E, and folic acid— all key nutrients in promoting a healthy immune system.

According to the study:

  • Eating a salad a day is directly correlated with higher nutrient levels.
  • Adding salad dressing to a salad increases the absorption of certain nutrients being consumed.
  • The fat in salad dressing helps absorb key nutrients such as lycopene and alpha- and beta-carotene.
  • People who eat salads, salad dressing, and raw vegetables are more likely to meet recommended intakes for vitamins C, E and folic acid.
  • High fruit and vegetable consumption has also been associated with lower rates of pre-menopausal bone loss in women.
  • Consumption of as little as one serving of salad or raw vegetables per day is significantly associated with the likelihood of meeting the recommended nutrient intakes of each of vitamins A, E, B6, and folic acid.

Are you ready to incorporate more salads in your life?

Get your fill and fuel your body with a menu item that contains all food groups. Browse the massive menu at Toss Salads & Wraps located in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. You will see endless options, literally! Your hardest decision might be which of the 18 salad dressings to choose! Toss offers convenient delivery options, too!