A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 27, 2009
Housemade

"Housemade” (or “house-made") is another food industry term for the over-used “homemade.” The terms “housemade” and “homemade” imply that the product is not frozen and store-bought, but is made of fresh ingredients usually at the place of sale (restaurant, bakery, food truck, et al.).

People who prefer “housemade” point out that a restaurant is not a “home” (no one lives there), but can be considered a food-processing “house.” “Homemade,” however, brings forth fond memories of mom’s home cooking. “Housemade” remains awkward to some because it can be confused with its homophone word “housemaid.” A Newsweek writer queried the Chowhound website in May 2009 about the terms and then published the article “House Sweet House” (see below).

“House-made” is cited in the 1973-1974 New York (NY) Times in articles by John L. Hess (1912-2005). The term “housemade” was seldom used in the 1970s and 1980s (although most of the print citations come from the New York Times) and began to achieve popularity in the 1990s. Hess’s use of the term was not well-known and “house-made” could have been independently thought of by the later users of the term.


Wikipedia: John L. Hess
John L. Hess (December 27, 1917 - January 21, 2005) was a prominent American investigative journalist who worked for many years at The New York Times. He left the Times in 1978 and wrote a memoir about his years there, My Times: A Memoir of Dissent.

Biography
Hess was born in New York City, and studied history at City College of New York. He began in journalism with the Bisbee Daily Review in Bisbee, Arizona, a town controlled by the Phelps Dodge copper company, but he left the newspaper — also owned by Phelps Dodge — when it interfered with his reporting. He served in the United States Merchant Marine during World War II.

After jobs with United Press, the Associated Press, New York Daily News, and The New York Post, Hess started working at the Times in 1954; first on the foreign copy desk, later becoming a night-shift reporter. In 1964, he moved to Paris to help start a European edition of the International Herald Tribune.

He returned to New York City in 1972 and was briefly the Times’ food editor. Hess hated the term “gourmet” because he believed that those who used the term sought or advertised prestige and price rather than quality and taste. He once gave the neighborhood of Chinatown four stars - the only four stars he awarded while the Times food editor. The Taste of America, which he co-wrote with his wife Karen Hess, excoriated American cooking and singled out such celebrity chefs as Julia Child and Craig Claiborne as contributing to the decline of the American palate.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Main Entry: home·made
Pronunciation: \ˈhō(m)-ˈmād\
Function: adjective
Date: circa 1659
1 : made in the home, on the premises, or by one’s own efforts
2 : of domestic manufacture

(Oxford English Dictionary)
home-made, a.
Made at home or for home consumption; of domestic manufacture. Also absol., and ellipt. as n.
a1659 CLEVELAND Poems, Sanbourn 35 Loaves of Home~made Bread.
1768 BOSWELL Corsica iii. (ed. 2) 193 None but the very peasants wear home-made cloth.
1823 J. F. COOPER Pioneer xi. (1869) 47 The thick coat of brown ‘home-made’.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
housemaid
A female domestic servant, having charge especially of the reception-rooms and bed-rooms.
1694 Dunton’s Ladies Dict. 183/2 House-Maids, Your principal Office is to make clean the greatest part of the House;..so that you suffer no room to lie foul.
c1731 SWIFT Direct. Servants Wks. 1814 XII. 399 The house~maid may put out her candle by running it against the looking-glass.
1837 CARLYLE Fr. Rev. I. VII. iv, The House~maid, with early broom.

29 June 1973, New York (NY) Times, “Thai Restaurant Hidden in a Blimpie’s” by John L. Hess, pg. 18:
Half servings of house-made pasta were of high interest:...

24 August 1973, New York (NY) Times, “An Engaging Ingenue Gets Only One Star, for Now” by John L. Hess, pg. 38:
The pastries were housemade, but wouldn’t win a prize at the county fair poor pie crust, heavy angelfood.

4 January 1974, New York (NY) Times, “Our Trucker’s Gone, but his Boss Knows a Place...” by John L. hess, pg. 16:
For that you get two meat pies, or one pie and one house-made Argentine sausage, or a choice of several other meats, plus salad and coffee.

Google News Archive
23 November 1976, The Age (Melbourne, Australia), “Eating Place” by Peter Smark, pg. 25, col. 5:
The a housemade cassata, had a delicious taste, but the texture was wrong.

Google Books
18 April 1977, New York magazine, “The Underground Gourmet” by Gertrude Snyder, pg. 93, col. 1:
When you are seated, the youthful staff supplies assorted breads, butter curls, and, to open the palate, an ice cream scoop of house-made sardine pate surrounded by crackers.

Google News Archive
29 April 1977, Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette, “Pies and Cakes and Frog, Too” by Geoffrey Tomb, Weekend Magazine, pg. 23, col. 2:
Finding a place serving two housemade soups, good entrees, a hot loaf of its own egg bread and fresh pie for dessert is remarkable

24 December 1978, New York (NY) Times, pg. WC10 ad:
Special House Made Dessert.
(Flower Dragon Chinese Restaurant in Armonk, NY—ed.)

11 March 1979, New York (NY) Times, “Food in a Stock-Market Setting” by Patricia Brooks, pg. CN17:
There are six desserts listed (under “Excess profits” on the stock-market-oriented menu), though none is housemade.

1 May 1983, New York (NY) Times, “A Seafood Motif in South Norwalk” by Patricia Brooks, pg. CN23:
Nice touches included...house-made coconut cream pie and pistachio pie—moist and fluffy in a thin, crisp crust.

5 January 1992, New York (NY) Times, “Getting Off to a Fest Start in Great Neck” by Joanne Starkey, pg. LI9:
At the top of the list for meat lovers is a housemade chicken-chorizo sausage served with white beans and bitter greens.

20 March 1994, New York (NY) Times, “Overlooking the Harbor in Greenwich” by Patricia Brooks, pg. CN22:
Desserts at Atlantic earned a mixed report. A housemade apple crumble was deliciously crunchy-topped with not overly sweet apples, served with vanilla ice cream and a swirl of raspberry sauce.

Houston (TX) Press
Seoul Food
By Alison Cook
Published on April 07, 1994
(...)
And those dumplings! Their house-made wrappers make them thin and silky of skin; plumped with mixed vegetables, they are wontons squared.

Houston (TX) Press
Hot plate
By Alison Cook
Published on April 28, 1994
(...)
Whereas the salad plate is best consumed by two people in guilty secrecy, Nielsen’s special corned-beef-and-Swiss sandwich can be eaten right out in the open; its Scandinavian twist is a layer of pale, house-made liver paste that’s more like a light, rough-textured pate.

Houston (TX) Press
Pub Flubs Grub
The drinking beats the dining at the new Village Brewery

By Alison Cook
Published on June 09, 1994
Add the debut of the Village Brewery, with its five house-made beers on tap, to your list of summer’s urban events: all month long, Houston’s pent-up brewpub thirst has kept this cavernous old postal garage packed, even on weeknights

30 June 1996, New York (NY) Times, “Sea Food at Its Best on the North Fork” by Joanne Starkey, pg. LI13:
Desserts are a mix of housemade and brought-in treats.

12 April 1998, New York (NY) Times, “A Stunner in Looks WIth Exciting Food” by Joanne Starkey, pg. LI11:
Among them are a juicy burger on a sourdough roll with shoestring potatoes and housemade fries…

29 October 1998, New York (NY) Times, “Italian and Unusual, From the Antipasto to the Dessert” by Eric Asimov, pg. F9, col. 4:
Desserts can be divided into two categories: those that seem as if they are rote menu choices...and those offered with enthusiasm, like Luca’s housemade granita ($4), in enticing flavors like almond and grapefruit.

Houston (TX) Press
Italian 101
By Dennis Abrams
Published on April 15, 1999
(...)
The housemade ravioli proved wonderfully cheesy, a happy fit with the sprightly tomato sauce;...

Houston (TX) Chronicle
Texans steak a claim on good taste at El Buen Bife
By ALISON COOK
Feb. 14, 2002, 8:44PM
(...)
Second, skip the iffy side dishes in favor of the good stuff: namely the likeable house-made pastas that attest to Argentina’s many Italian immigrants; and any vegetable that comes from that show-stopping, wood-fired grill, which Argentinians call a parilla.

Dining@Large
Homemade or housemade?
(...)
I’ve gone back and forth. I don’t like “homemade” for the obvious reasons, but it does convey exactly what I want to convey. “Housemade” isn’t any more or less accurate when you think about it; a restaurant isn’t a house either.
(...)
I usually use “housemade” because it’s less loaded with meaning, but not always. “Housemade” still sounds like a made up word to me, while “homemade,” if you don’t take it literally, is less offensive to the ear.
Posted by Elizabeth Large at 5:18 AM, 22 March 2008

Not About Food - Chowhound
Newsweek: Why Is “Housemade” Replacing “Homemade”?
Hey guys,

Andrew Romano from Newsweek here, hoping to harness the collective wisdom of the Chowhound community.

Basically, I’m wondering if you’ve noticed the recent proliferation of the word “housemade” (and house-cured, house-infused, etc.) on menus? I’m thinking of writing a short item on how and why (the neologistic) “housemade” is replacing (the grammatically correct) “homemade” at a certain type of restaurant, as if the latter has become meaningless through overuse but the former is somehow a true sign of au-courant, handcrafted authenticity.

I’d love to know your thoughts on the subject: What’s the difference? What does “house” evoke? Why are chefs so eager to deploy the word? And why now?
(...)
aromano May 14, 2009 03:54PM

Newsweek
House Sweet House
By Andrew Romano | NEWSWEEK
Published May 22, 2009
From the magazine issue dated Jun 1, 2009
(...)
Behold “housemade”: the artisanal adjective that has yet to appear in -Merriam-Webster but is suddenly materializing on menus across the nation, often where a humble “home-made” used to be. In Brooklyn, restaurants such as the Michelin-starred Dressler rarely deign to serve dishes not described as housemade: housemade gnocchi with morel ragout ($15); cheddar burger with housemade pickles ($13.50); housemade pecan sticky buns ($4); and, lest the liquor feel left out, a cocktail with house-infused orange vodka ($11). According to Menupages.com, 244 New York restaurants now boast housemade (or “house-made") fare, and the eateries of Los Angeles (118), Washing-ton, D.C. (112), Chicago (79), South Florida (62), Boston (57) and Philadelphia (56) don’t lag by much. In San Francisco, the term has nearly outpaced homemade (192 to 176).

Serious Eats
The Term ‘Housemade’ Is the New ‘Homemade’
Posted by Erin Zimmer, May 27, 2009 at 8:29 PM
By many definitions, a house doesn’t have quite the cozy appeal as a home. House sweet house just doesn’t have the same ring to it. But more menus are advertising “housemade” this or that, instead of the generic homemade. As Newsweek points out, the artisanal adjective has yet to appear in Merriam-Webster (so technically, it should be house-made until baptized a real word), but homemade will no longer suffice. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Wednesday, May 27, 2009 • Permalink