Like most tales passed through generations, the origin of Thousand Island Dressing is cloaked in mystery. We intend, through this project, to step back in time and videotape our travels as we search for and examine the evidence that supports the three conflicting stories that chronicle the famous salad dressing’s first appearance. Our final two hour, broadcast-quality documentary we hope will uncover the truth behind the condiment's first appearance!
Through our Website/Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube postings we invite you on the journey as it happens... and at the higher pledge levels you can participate in tracing our steps to uncover the mystery yourself in person! (See our Backer Rewards section)
All agree that the dressing was named after the Thousand Islands -- a breathtaking region so called because of the more than 1000 islands that dot the lakes and river along the majestic waterway of the St. Lawrence Seaway.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the rich and famous made the region their private playground, making it widely known as a summer resort. Several grand hotels provided luxurious accommodations to the enchanted visitors, while steamboats offered extensive tours among the islands. Yachting, lavish parties and early power boating were all feature attractions for the golden years of the resort's greatest prominence (1895 - 1915). Wealthy summer residents, most from the New York City area, built opulent seasonal homes. The most famous of these residences was Boldt Castle on Heart Island, owned by George Boldt, the proprietor of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. It still stands today, lovingly restored. George has a claim to giving birth to Thousand Island Dressing and is forever entwined in one of the most tragic love stories ever lived.
Small inns, complete with restaurants specializing in regional recipes, offered “shore dinners” created from the bountiful catches of the St. Lawrence River’s pristine waters and topped with unique sauces and condiments. A woman by the name of Sophia Lalonde, her husband a fisherman, is credited with creating the original 1000 Island Dressing recipe for her husband's fishing charter customers.
Around the time the salad dressing was first featured in the islands, it then quickly made two competing "introductory appearances" at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC and the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago -- with different recipes, but the same name!
A chef from Chicago -- Theo Rooms -- claimed he created it in Chicago at this time and named it after his recent vacation destination!
George Boldt, Sophia Lalonde, Theo Rooms: Three legends - One dressing!
A famous sexually outrageous, voluptuous actress of the day -- May Irwin -- perhaps holds a few missing keys to unlock this mystery. Miss Irwin owned her own island on the St. Lawrence devoted to escape and pleasure for many men of renown -- and appears, depending on the version, to make an appearance in each of the legends surrounding the birth of the dressing. Your senses will reel as you see and hear her racist rants put to music and accepted as popular entertainment... the shock value is even formidable today, going beyond even gansta rap and hip hop lyrics! Adding to her notorious reputation was her participation in the first "on-screen" kiss -- captured on film by Thomas Edison and considered dreadfully scandalous for the time. It was immediately denounced by the critics and clergy of the day with scathing tirades in newspapers across the land!
You'll taste test for yourself the competing "original" recipes and receive a Certificate of Participation with your choice noted for the history books (and DVD collection notes).
Funds will help pay for our anticipated seven to ten day shoot in the Thousand Islands, Albany NY, NYC and Chicago. Our video production crew will be utilizing high definition cameras, state of the art sound recording and lighting equipment suitable for any setting whether outdoor, indoor, day or night. The final documentary will be edited in post-production at standard one hour and two hour broadcast lengths. Professional voice over narration, licensed music beds and video special effects will all blend together with our on-location footage to create a fast paced, entertaining and informative show sure to capture viewer attention. We anticipate interest airing the program from PBS regional stations, The Food Network, History Channel, Travel Channel, Discovery Networks and the National Geographic Channel.
Additional expenses include pre-production planning with location scouting, interview schedules, segment event costs, crew travel and food - both off camera and for the special meal preparation and dining experience portions of the program. Follow-up research, archive retrieval and duplication, clarifications of statements "for the record" from those with first-hand knowledge, historians, scholars and related authenticity confirmation are all part of our complete investigation.
Travelogue updates on our website, Twitter and YouTube, DVD enhanced packaging, recipe books compilation, T-shirt design and printing, and all our exciting reward packages are made possible by your generous pledge.
Won’t you support... and join us... for this tasty, full-filling mystery adventure? Complete information is available at our Kickstarter website: www.thousandislandmystery.com