Reader poll: A look at an American Airlines dinner menu from 1979

Anthropologist, and U.C. Berkeley professor, George M. Foster was a man that traveled the world for more than 70 years.  His field work took him across the globe to study peasant societies and to document the impact and changes that 20th century technologies had on their cultures.

He traveled by airplane, train, and steamship, and along the way the collected the menus and, as you would expect from a scientist, took meticulous notes of his trips.

He collected almost 400 airline menus and recorded details such as airline, route, flight number, even aircraft type.

Dr. Foster was an alumnus of Northwestern University and before his death in 2006 at the age of 92, he donated his collection to the school’s Transportation Library.

Here’s a look at menu from an American Airlines fight from Los Angeles, Calif. to Washington, D.C., April 25, 1979:

Menu: Cover

Menu: American Airlines Los Angeles, Calif. to Washington, D.C., April 25, 1979


Menu: inside cover


Menu: Page 2


Menu: back page


The university’s collection is available online, and it’s fascinating to see not only how much airplane food has changed, but also how our taste preferences have evolved.

One thing that’s pretty much the same is the Filet Mignon au Poivre.  It’s still served on many flights and it’s one of my favorites.   If had to select a main course from this menu, that’s the one that I’d pick.  

Which entree would you choose?

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Have a great weekend!

Image credit: Northwestern University Transportation Library Menu Collection


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