Category Archives: Food

Cuisine on Computers

This article was written by Samuel Phineas Upham

When Tim Berners-Lee introduced the concept of the Web in 1990, it set the stage for much of the information access we have today. You can basically find the answer to anything if you understand how to ask a search engine.

It’s also important to understand that the Internet, in many ways, was the bi-product of the Cold War era. It was meant as a tool for defense institutions to communicate efficiently, then became an economic and social game-changer. No one really planned for this to happen, which is why the earliest forms of information on the Internet were somewhat random in nature. The first recipe, for instance, was most likely a family favorite of some top-brass military personnel.

Still, there was a growing side of the Internet that was using the service to communicate with others. This was taking the form of moderated message boards, often called newsgroups. These groups would exchange information and encourage others to grow the community. Brian K. Reid, moderator of the gourmand group, is credited with maintaining one of the earliest databases of food on the Internet. He had a few rules for writing recipes, including: no preaching, no fake ingredients and no “mystical” quantities.

If you’re curious about when the Internet started actually giving food to us, as opposed to use getting ideas on how to cook, trace back no further than 1994. It was Pizza Hut that first began accepting orders taken from the Internet, and the service was limited only to customers in the Santa Cruz area.


About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Samuel Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his Samuel Phineas Upham website.

When Americans Tasted Asian Food

This article was written by Samuel Phineas Upham

Asian food has a long and storied history in America. It arrived with Chinese immigrants in California during the 1800s. It was like an attempt at reconnecting with their roots, and Asian populations were booming throughout that era. As a result, the food caught on.

Small American twists, like a greater emphasis on meat, were added to suit the American pallet and the food was very well received. In the early days of Chinese food, most dishes for Americans consisted of noodles and fried steak, with just a touch of vegetables like peppers. Better cooks in San Francisco helped to diversify the content of the meals, and bring more popularity to Chinese food in general.

During the 1920s, young bohemians considered Chinese food exotic, which leant even more popularity to the already tasty dishes.

Obviously, much of this food isn’t really Chinese food. The fortune cookie, for instance, is a distinctly American invention designed to add just a hint of sweetness to the dish. Sugar was the main ingredient in many dishes, and could often be found in large doses. MSG also became associated with Chinese food over the years. The running gag was that sugar, MSG and a cheap soy sauce basically created the sauce to all Chinese food. And it wasn’t entirely untrue.

Today’s Chinese food is a bit more health conscious, but America is still a long way off from serving traditional Chinese cuisine. Still, the cuisine is so passable that Asian-Americans might be forgiven for mistaking it with traditional fare.


Samuel Phineas Upham

About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Samuel Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his Samuel Phineas Upham website.

Graham Crackers

This article was written by Phin Upham

Graham wafers date back to the 1870s. These crackers were made of graham flour, consisting of unsifted wheat flour that contained the bran of the wheat kernels. Graham flour gets its name from Sylvester Graham, a reverend from the early 1800s who advocated healthy dieting and the virtues of cooking for oneself.

Graham tried to manifest this movement rather ironically with a getaway he called Graham hotels. These establishments served a very strict diet which was very much in-line with the temperance movement of the day. This was in 1830, but soon everyone had heard of Graham Bread and a slightly thinner kind of cookie called a Graham cracker.

Graham would have identified well with today’s farm to table movement. He was a very big advocate of the vegetarian lifestyle, especially whole grains and fruits, and believed it would restore one’s health. When Graham was promoting the same kind of health science we take for granted today, bakers were just as likely to put alum in bread as they were to use copper sulfate.

In the olden days, Graham crackers were made very much like a sea biscuit. The dough would be spread thin and then baked until hardening. The Graham cracker added one important step to the process, which was to use the moisture from boiling water pots as a method of softening up the cookie.

Although the Graham cracker was and still is sold by other companies, Nabisco manages to be the business with the largest market share for Graham crackers.


Phin Upham

About the Author: Phin Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phin on his Twitter page.