History Podcasts

Last Night on the Titanic: The Popcorn Vendor

Last Night on the Titanic: The Popcorn Vendor

One legendary fixture on the Titanic was a gregarious popcorn vendor known as Popcorn Dan (Coxon). He was one of America's first food truck operators and a highly successful purveyor of popcorn.

He was lost on the Titanic and his body was never recovered, although a NY Times article claimed it was him when it wasn't

Coxon lived an interesting life. He resided in a Queen Anne house on the Wisconsin river, which people thought was haunted. He dressed in a fur-lined coat and loved to maintain a flashy appearance. But he was still a working-class man. For that reason, our culinary spotlight on him is a staple of laborers in the early 20th century (now it's a delicacy)-Tripe and Onion Soup

Culinary Spotlight: Tripe and Onions

  • 3 1/2 pounds tripe
  • 1 pig or cow trotter (foot), cut in half
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 peppercorns
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons oil and 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 6 medium-size onions, peeled but not cut
  • 6 potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 3 Tablespoons mild or medium curry powder (optional)
  • 1 cup good vegetable stock
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 Tablespoons corn flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley or 1/2 cup chopped coriander

Cut the tripe into bite-size pieces and wash very well. Clean the trotter well. Put into a large pot and cover with water. Boil for 5 minutes, throw the water off, and cover with clean water again. Add bay leaves, peppercorns, salt, and pepper and simmer for about 4 to 4ó hours. The tripe must be tender and the meat should fall off the bones. Stir now and then to prevent the tripe from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add a little water if needed.

While the tripe is simmering, add the oil and butter to a saucepan. Add the onions and potatoes. (Add the curry powder at this point, should you so wish). Sauté for ten minutes. Be careful not to burn. They must just be nicely coated. Add the stock and simmer until onions and potatoes are almost cooked. Set aside.

When the tripe is just about cooked, add the potatoes and onions and stir in. Cook for another 30 minutes. Add the milk and simmer slowly for about 15 minutes, then thicken with corn flour and water mixed to a thin paste. If serving the plain tripe, sprinkle with parsley. If serving the curried tripe, sprinkle with coriander.