The American History of Coleslaw

“It’s always a touch decision between that, the Mac and Cheese, and the mashed potatoes, isn’t it?”

~Colonel Sanders

One of the most widely available and American acceptable “salads” also happens to be the most secretive.  Much like a Jeremy Piven character in a John Cusack Romantic Comedy, Coleslaw is always there but rarely thought about.

But this is a food that sits alongside American food champions like Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, and Fried Chicken, while managing to break past it’s “vegetable-based” roots and be fairly unhealthy for you when done right, and it’s Wikipedia page has less information than the entry on Paris Hilton’s products and endorsements.  It’s a damn shame, because any food drowned in mayonnaise deserves to be known.  That is why we here at AFFotD are making it our duty to present to you…

The American History of Coleslaw


Coleslaw, or a variation of a cabbage and vinegar based salad that involved eggs, has been consumed since Ancient Rome.  Modern variations take the egg and crank it up a notch by using mayonnaise instead of vinaigrette, because if we wanted vinaigrette on our damn salads we’d have long ago invented a way to make vinaigrette out of bacon grease and brown sugar to create a loophole.

Coleslaw means “Cabbage Salad,” though we view slaw as a salad in the same way we view Jello salads as salads.  Salad may be in its name, but if it tastes delicious we’re going to assume it’s something else.  This is the reason why coleslaw is called a “side dish” while a side salad is called a “Get that the fuck away from me, what is wrong with you?”

“Ugh.  This…just ugh.”

The origin of the term “Coleslaw” comes from the Dutch word, koolsla, which was a shortened version of the term koolsalade, which literally meant “Cabbage Salad.”  The change from “Koolsla” to “Coleslaw” came from Dutch immigrants to, you guessed it, America.  As a result, Coleslaw in its current form is largely considered an American culinary achievement, first appearing in American literature as early as 1785.  Coleslaw has of course evolved to be just more than cabbage and mayonnaise, as carrots are often involved to help combat the side effects of teenage masturbation, and sometimes cheese is put in there because fuck you, aortic valve.

In the faaace.

Coleslaw has numerous important uses in American culture, and despite being a very secretive side dish, we here at AFFotD will help break down the most important uses of Coleslaw in American culture.

  • Slaw can be made with bourbon instead of vinegar.  This is called Drunkslaw, and the recipe calls for ¼ of a cup of Sour Cream, 1 cup of Mayonnaise, a cup of bourbon, and a pound of sliced cabbage, carrots, and stray cigarette butts.  It’s delicious, and the taste can best be described as “1962 dysfunctional family’s Fourth of July Barbeque.”
  • The best documented use of Coleslaw was when an American convinced their incredibly vain, egotistical friend that Coleslaw is a fast acting diet aid, and if you eat several pounds of it a day you will lose inches off your waistline.  Now her awful personality is complimented by a hefty 250 pound physique and no one will ever love her.  That’s for calling our ankles chunky, Claudia!
  • Sometimes people use broccoli instead of Coleslaw to make “Broccolislaw.”  That’s bullshit.  Broccoli is disgusting.
  • Coleslaw is the antidote to most known poisons, and if you rub it on a snake bite, you don’t have to worry about anti-venom.  We’ve never researched this theory in the field, but we’ll let you, our dear readers, go ahead and make sure we’re right.  Report back with your findings, we’re really eager to open up a snake-handling department.

Because it’s pointless to consume a salad if there isn’t a chance it’ll rot your teeth out, many coleslaw recipes ask for the addition of pure sugar to the mayo and vinegar because don’t fucking question it you’ll eat it and like it.  Basically, cabbage serves as a vehicle for getting sugar, mayo, and sour cream into your stomach, which is so American the Statue of Liberty just had a mild coronary.  Also, here’s a recipe from someone who decided to combine cheese and coleslaw and use it to make a jello mold.

Coleslaw will never be the center of a meal, but in the last 200 years, it has grown to become an indispensible part of picnics and barbeques all over this fine country.  Because if we’re going to want to eat side dishes with our unhealthy food, we’d better have those side dishes be suspiciously unhealthy as well.  Because this is America, and America is delicious.


9 responses to “The American History of Coleslaw

  1. Pingback: Who invited the Dutch to the BBQ? | ideas that taste good

  2. Pingback: Regional Hot Dog Styles Of America: Part 3 | affotd

  3. Pingback: Food history: coleslaw -

  4. Pingback: Creamy Paleo Coleslaw Recipe [Paleo, AIP]

  5. Pingback: Food history: coleslaw -

  6. You rock brother. I loved that bit about the American History of Coleslaw. Want you to post stuff on my website… Pls contact.
    Okeechobee Farms-we grow meat NOT greens.
    561 225 3073

  7. Pingback: What is a Salad? - Finding My Way in the Kitchen

  8. Its a pity that the author finds it necessary to insert gratuitous vulgarisms in his writing. This could be used as as illustration of literary Tourette Syndrome.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s