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The History of Caesar Salad

Who Invented the Caesar Salad?
This is a fun but contraversial topic, a story of brothers from Italy that stumbled upon something that would become the emporer of all salads.

The Original Recipe for Caesar Salad

The Original Classic Ceaser Salad is not
just a recipe but there is a special technique
to tossing it.


Fun Facts about Caesar Salad
There were so many interesting tidbits
images and video's that I needed a place
to put them.  

Caesar Cardini
Caesar Cardini
More about Caesar Cardini

The popularity of ths salad around the world is most likely due to a man that bears the salad's name, Caesar Cardini, NOT Julius Caesar as many people believe......or maybe it was his brother Alessandro (Alex)......?

Who invented the Caesar Salad?

There are many claims as to who invented Caesar salad.

Caesar (Cesare) Cardini Caesar was born near Lago Maggiore, Italy, in 1896; he and his brother Alex emigrated to the U.S. after World War I. The Cardini's lived in San Diego but operated a restaurant in Tijuana to circumvent Prohibition.

Where was it Invented?

Probably one of the earliest pictures of Caesar's restaurant.

More pictures of Caesar's restaurant here

According to Caesar's daughter Rosa, on July 4th 1924 the salad was created on a busy weekend at Caesar's Restaurant. It is said that Caesar was short of supplies and didn't want to disappoint the customers so he concocted this salad with what was on hand. To add a flair to this he prepared it at the table. This story is not certifiable however but it very well could have happened. I can vouch for the fact that this happens frequently in the restaurant business. The salad soon became a hit and people came to the restaurant just to get the salad. In particular the Hollywood set loved Caesars

Some of Caesar's friends and family dispute this claim.

Paul Maggiora, a partner of the Cardini's, claimed to have tossed the first Caesar's salad in 1927 for American airmen from San Diego and called it "Aviator's Salad. Caesar's brother Alex had claimed to have developed the salad (he too allegedly called it "aviator's salad"). Livio Santini claimed he made the salad from a recipe of his mother, in the kitchen of Caesar's restaurant when he was 18 years old, in 1925, and that Caesar took the recipe from him.

Carla Cardini making Aviator salad for a class

The original name was the Aviator's Salad. Alex Cardini, my grandfather, was a pilot for the Italian Air Force during World War I before he moved to Tijuana to join my great-uncle Caesar. Remember,

it was Prohibition, and Tijuana was where people went to party. Caesar's Place, my great-uncle's bar and restaurant, was very popular. After a long night of drinking and missing curfew, a group of Rockwell Field Air Force pilots woke up at Caesar's, and what Alex made for them for breakfast that morning is what we know today as Caesar Salad. That day he called it the Aviator's Salad in honor of his flying buddies, but as the salad gained popularity with visitors from Southern California it evolved into the Caesar Salad. “Let's go to Caesar's and have that salad …”

Subsequently, when Alex Cardini moved to Mexico City, where he opened three restaurants, the salad was listed on his menu as "the original Alex Cardini Caesar salad."


Recipe for Aviator's Salad



1938 Cardini moved to Los Angeles where he opened a gourmet f ood store. His patrons followed, arriving with empty wine bottles for him to fill with the dressing. In 1948, the demand for Cardini's famous dressing made him decide to bottle it and to establish Caesar Cardini Foods with his daughter Rosa.

If you are interested in this dressing and can not find it in your stores you can order it online

Cardini Original Caesar Dressing, 20-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 6)  

Salad Dressing, Caesar, 12 oz.  


Another person that claims to have invented Caesar Salad


Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices  

Volume ll

While there is no documentation to prove this, it is worth noting.
in 1903

In George Leonard Herter's Book the Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices VOL ll he talks about who he thinks invented Caesar salad.

"Caesar salad was invented in about 1903 by Giacomo Junia, an Italian cook in Chicago, Illinois. Giacomo Junia was the cook in a small restaurant called The New York Cafe. He catered to American tastes as spaghetti and pizza in those days were little eaten by anyone including Italians. It is sometimes falsely stated that this salad was invented in Tijuana, Mexico during the prohibition period and also in San Francisco. Nothing could be further from the truth. The only thing invented in Tijuana were the finest methods every produced to clip tourists.


Giacomo Junia called the salad Caesar Salad. He put a few pieces of Cos lettuce (romaine) in the salad to add a slightly bitter touch to it. . . Giacomo called the salad Caesar Salad after Julius Caesar, the greatest Italian of all time. . . . Junia never thought that the salad would be popular and was more surprised than anyone when people began to ask for it. Many itinerant cooks learned how to make the salad and soon it was made all over North America and even in Europe."

Here is more information that debunks this idea, and also that Webster and Britanica had it wrong.

This is reprinted from an article by
Jim Rader , Merriam-Webster Inc.
American Food Folklore and Culinary History:

A totally heterodox origin for "Caesar salad" appears in the 3rd edition of "Webster's New World": "so named in honor of (Gaius) Julius Caesar by Giacomo Junia, Italian-American chef in Chicago, who invented it c. 1903." Journalists only bring this etymology up to heap scorn on it (demonstrating by the way their complete incomprehension of the meaning of "Webster" in dictionary titles.)

The documentation of the collocation "Caesar salad"/"Caesar's salad" is thin. The first cite Merriam has is from the "Britannica Book of the Year, 1950", from the article "Fads of 1949": "In foods, fads were limited. Caesar salad was in vogue through the summer and fall, and slot-machine hot dogs still prevailed in the larger cities" (pp. 273-74). There have to be earlier cites out there, even if only from 1949, when the salad was supposedly popular (suggesting it had been regional until then?).

The history of Caesar salad would not be complete without mentioning
Julia Child input.

Julia Child dined there as a child, and had Caesar salad made by Caesar himself. Later on she contacted Rosa Cardini, his daughter to get the original recipe.
From her book

 From Julia Child's Kitchen

Julia Child dined there as a child, and had Caesar salad made by Caesar himself. Later on she contacted Rosa Cardini, his daughter to get the original recipe.
From her book....

...The salad is tossed at the table, and according to Julia Child that watched it being made, My parents, of course, ordered the salad. Caesar himself rolled the big cart up to the table, tossed the romaine in a great wooden bowl, and I wish I could say I remembered his every move, but I don't. They only thing I see again clearly is the eggs. I can see him break 2 eggs over that romaine and roll them in, the greens going all creamy as the eggs flowed over them. Two eggs in a salad? Two one-minute coddled eggs? The Romaine was not

chopped into bite size pieces but left in whole leaves. Caesar felt the natural shape of the leaves is a perfect scoop with a handle so it could be eaten with the fingers. So the leaves were arranged on a plate with the tips to the center and the stem outward for easy grabbing.

Wallis Simpson the Dutchess of Windsor

In the book In Search of Caesar, The Ultimate Caesar Salad Book by Terry D. Greenfield, it is stated:

"In Europe , Caesar's Salad was also beginning to make an appearance. The legend attributes the salad's debut across the ocean to Mrs. Wallis Warfield Simpson (mistress and ultimately wife of Prince Edward VIII of Wales , former King of England). Mrs. Simpson often visited and partied in the San Diego and Tijuana areas in the 1920s. It is said that Mrs. Simpson met the prince of Wales there, at the Hotel Del Coronado. During this time, Mrs. Simpson visited Hotel Caesar's Place and became fond of Caesar's Salad and was sometimes an overbearing guest demanding that Caesar himself toss his salad at her table-side, creating quite a fuss It is also that that as a result of Mrs. Simpson's extensive world travels, Caesar Salad was introduced

to many of the great European restaurants by her instructing international chefs as they struggled to recreate the dressing to satisfy the soon-to-be-Duchess of Windsor's discerning palate.

However, in a 1952 interview Caesar Cardini said that the salad did not become well-known until 1937 when a Hollywood screenwriter for Paramount named Manny Wolfeprovided the recipe to various restaurants. Or, perhaps it became popular after New York food editors were introduced to it at a special Waldorf-Astoria promotion around 1947.

Three years before Cardini's death in 1956, the master chefs of the 'International Society of Epicures' in Paris proclaimed Caesar's salad as "the greatest recipe to originate from the Americas in 50 years."


The first mention of Caesar Salad was on this
1946 menu in Los Angeles
We don't have an original copy of Caesar's

What was the
Original recipe for Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad Recipes

More Fun Facts about Caesar Salad

The largest Caesar salad, and other neat items....

More Links and Food History Articles


Links and references

What's Cooking in America

Yvonne Maison Travel Eats

The Examiner

DDV Culinary Website

Restauranting through History


National Caesar Salad Day

Wheres my Damn Answer

Ground Report













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