Live Free and Nosh: Discover 5 food-related New Hampshire inventions

For over 40 years, The Puritan Backroon’s Chicken Tenders have made poultry history. Photo courtesy of Puritan Backroom.

By Stacy Milbouer

November 8, 2023

In New Hampshire, we love innovation and we love food.  Here are five New Hampshire inventions that have made cooking and eating easier (and yummier) over the last 230 years.

Chicken Tenders – There are chicken nuggets and chicken strips, but it was the Puritan Backroom in Manchester that was credited with the creation of the chicken tender. In 1974 Charlie Pappas used the bits of chicken leftover from trimming chicken breasts, marinated, seasoned, and fried them, and named them tenders. The rest is Manchester history. Devoted “tenderites” still come from all over the state for the iconic poultry morsels. The backroom started in the city in 1917 and four generations of the Pappas family, including current Democratic U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas, have run the popular eatery ever since.

Russian Dressing – That’s right! We are nowhere near the former Soviet Union. Still, Russian dressing was invented by a Nashua grocer just about 100 years ago, according to the 1927 book “New Hampshire Resources, Attractions and its People: A History,” by Derry-born Hobart Pillsbury. The orange condiment is a mixture of mayonnaise and ketchup, and no one seems to know what about that invokes Russia, but we enjoy it all the same.

Tupperware – If it weren’t for a Berlin (NH) born Earl Tupper, millions of Americans would have to throw out their leftover lasagna way before it turned to green sludge. Tupper was working for the Dupont when he came up with Tupperware in 1938. Eight years later he partnered with a saleswoman, Brownie Wise, who came up with the idea for Tupperware parties.

Smith, John Raphael; Sir Benjamin Thompson (1753-1814), Count Rumford; The Royal Society

The modern kitchen range. Thank you, Sir Benjamin Thompson, AKA Count von Rumford. If not for you, we might still be stoking the hearth to make our breakfast burritos. OK, Thompson was a spy for the Brits during the American Revolution, and he deserted his family, but in the 1790s, he did design a stove with a cylindrical oven and holes at the top for pots. Before that, people just cooked on open fires. This father of the modern kitchen stove was born in Massachusetts in 1753 but moved to New Hampshire when he married wealthy widow Sarah Walker of Rumford.

The French Drip Coffee Pot – In a state with long, dark winters, the first thing we’d want to make on a stove is hot coffee. Thanks again Count von Rumford for inventing the French drip coffee pot with an insulated water sleeve to keep the java hot.


  • Stacy Milbouer

    Stacy Milbouer is an award-winning journalist and has covered New Hampshire for many publications including the Boston Globe, New Hampshire Magazine, and the Nashua Telegraph.


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