Foods You'd Never Think Were Invented In The Bay Area

Megan Cosgrove

As if gastronomes and casual foodies needed another reason to love San Francisco, here is one more as we investigate the stories behind beloved epicurean institutions that were invented right here in the Golden City.


The first item on our list was literally created in someone’s backyard in Oakland, California. While people have been enjoying flavored ice as far back as the ancient Romans, 11-year old Frank Epperson earned himself a spot in frozen dessert history, after accidentally leaving a cup containing water, powdered soda mix, and a stirring stick on his patio overnight in 1905. Epperson awoke the next morning to a sweet concept that he would recreate and refine for the next 19 years, until he received his patent for ‘a handled, frozen confection or ice lollipop.’

Mimosas Lined Up At Brunch


Fortune Cookies

Fortune Cookie

The fortune cookie we know and sometimes love, depending on our printed prophecy, was invented neither in China nor by the Chinese. In fact, we can thank San Franciscan resident Makoto Hagiwara for serving the first version of the cookie in the 1890s. After being rehired at the Japanese tea garden in Golden Gate Park, Hagiwara hoped to express his gratitude to his boss by presenting him with a delicate cookie containing a thank you note. It would become a staple in Chinese restaurants in America after World War II.


Perhaps the most hotly contested claim on our list concerns who invented the martini. After all, who wouldn’t want the bragging rights associated with a 007-endorsed cocktail? Muddled memories and slurred accounts considered, it appears as if the drink originated in California during the Gold Rush period. As for the story behind its name, one theory tells of a San Franciscan miner who ordered a pick-me-up from a local bar while on his way to Martinez, California. The resulting concoction, made from the assortment of leftover liquors, became known as the ‘Martinez’. The martini is said to have come afterwards, once bartender preferences shifted from sweet to dry vermouth.

Boudin Cafe

Sourdough Bread

Tracing the rise of this humble loaf takes us back to the Gold Rush, when prospective gold miners were known as ‘sour doughs’. While the ancient Egyptians had been baking similarly leavened loafs since 1500 BCE, Isidore Boudin takes the cake for developing the ‘mother dough’ in America. This sacred recipe is believed to contain the perfect bread culture proportions. In fact, it is so precious that during the 1906 fire and earthquake, Isidore’s widow, Louise, made a heroic rescue of the mother dough by carrying it out of the bakery and to safety in a bucket. The Boudin Bakery brand is still going strong today, with 23 locations in northern California alone.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article