Meals On Wheels—Dining on the Rails
The first railroad dining cars were attached to passenger trains in the nineteenth century. George Pullman, famous for the sleeper car, introduced the Delmonico dining car. The upscale dining car served food for the budget-breaking price of one dollar per meal.
The 1940/50s were the golden age of train travel and the dining car was a passenger’s favorite part of the trip. For the railroad, the dining car was expensive to build, staff and operate. Not only was a separate fully functional kitchen car required, the train had to be stocked with crockery, glassware, tablecloths, flatware, menus, and of course food.
To operate the “restaurant” on wheels, an average crew of ten people were required: cooks, waiters, bartenders, and a steward. All members of the crew, especially the chef, had to be able to perform duties while the train was in constant motion: rocking, slowing, speeding up, taking sharp curves—sometimes at eighty miles per hour.
Liquor was available in the dining car or club room car. However, in 1950, alcohol could not be sold while traveling through Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.