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Clementine Paddleford

Clementine PaddlefordJournalist, food editor. Born: September 27, 1898, Stockdale, Kansas.  Died: November 13, 1967, New York City.

"Tell me where your grandmother came from and I can tell you how many kinds of pie you serve for Thanksgiving," wrote Clementine Paddleford in How America Eats. Paddleford was known as "America's Number One Food Editor" for her ability to make good cooking read as fine literature.

"In the Midwest two is the usual, mince and pumpkin," Paddleford wrote. "In the South no pie but wine jelly, tender and trembling, topped with whipped cream. Down East it's a threesome, cranberry, mince and pumpkin, a sliver of each, and sometimes, harking back to the old days around Boston, four kinds of pie were traditional for this feast occasion—mince, cranberry, pumpkin and a kind called Marlborough, a glorification of everyday apple."

Clementine Haskin Paddleford was born September 27, 1898 in Stockdale, Kansas. She graduated from Kansas State University in 1921 with a degree in journalism and studied at New York University's school of journalism.

Paddleford joined the New York Herald Tribune in 1936, and stayed until its demise in 1966.  She was known for food descriptions that stimulated the senses. To her, the perfect souffle responded "with a rapturous, half-hushed sigh as it settled softly to melt and vanish in a moment like smoke on a dream." She covered the food stories behind the great events of the era, such as Queen Elizabeth II's coronation and Winston Churchill's Iron Curtain speech. And yet she maintained a taste for the simple. "It'll be good to be home where the ice water flows like champagne," she commented after an assignment with French royalty.

She concurrently wrote for This Week from 1940 until her death, served as the women's editor for Farm and Fireside magazine, and wrote for Gourmet magazine from 1941 until 1953. Her first book, A Flower for My Mother, reflected on her early years in Kansas where she developed an interest in food. "Stirred-in joy" was the secret of her mother's cooking. "Every last dish seasoned well with love," Paddleford wrote. "She knew that eating was more than just filling hollow legs, just as environment is more than a place. This is one of the things she tried to teach her daughter. Cooking should never be made a chore."

How America Eats, published in 1960 from a compilation of Paddleford's earlier writings, highlighted culinary traditions in each of the 50 states. In her research, Paddleford traveled thousands of miles visiting with the nation's best cooks. "I have eaten with crews on fishing boats and enjoyed slum gullion at a Hobo Convention," she wrote. "How does America eat? She eats on the fat of the land. She eats in every language. For the most part, however, even with the increasingly popular trend toward foreign foods, the dishes come to the table with an American accent." Paddleford died November 13, 1967 in New York City.

Entry: Paddleford, Clementine

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: April 2009

Date Modified: January 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.