Lauren Sawant is a freelance writer and editor and WTFCF contributor specializing in cookbooks, recipes, and food writing. She has worked in and adjacent to the food and beverage industry for over 15 years, including three years as a pastry cook.
There is nothing more American than grilling hot dogs in the mid-summer heat while the kids run around the backyard dressed in red, white, and blue, eagerly awaiting the night’s fireworks show. But did you know that the Fourth of July was not considered an official federal holiday until 1870, almost one hundred years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence? And it wasn’t until 1938 that federal employees were granted a paid day off work.
However, even though the Fourth of July was not always an “official” holiday, it has been celebrated by Americans since 1776. Some of the first festivities took place immediately after the signing of the Declaration of Independence when citizens of the newly independent states held mock funerals for King George III. Beginning in 1777, the mock funerals were replaced by Independence Day celebrations that featured parades, speeches, bonfires, the shooting of muskets, and large public dinners.
In present-day America, the Fourth of July is celebrated with fireworks displays, parades, and backyard cookouts—the evolution of public dinners. Barbequed meats and summer sides like grilled corn on the cob are classic Independence Day menu items.
Ready to celebrate the Fourth of July but don’t know what to cook? Try one of these recipes! For a spicy twist on a traditional barbeque recipe, try these Fire-Cracker Pork Ribs developed by the Kansas Pork Association. For a side that might just steal the show, try this recipe for Tangy Cider Slaw developed by Brittney Boone, creator of The Plated Pantry.