Pepper Pot Day is celebrated every year on December 29. It is meant to celebrate a soup that was nicknamed ‘The Soup That Won The War.’ The war here refers to the American Revolutionary War for independence from Britain. The Philadelphia Pepper Pot soup is a thick soup made up of beef tripe, whatever vegetables are available, and of course, peppercorns. This peppery soup has a long history and probably originates from the Caribbean. It was brought over to America by enslaved people, who later sold the soup out in the streets.
History of Pepper Pot Day
The Philadelphia Pepper Pot soup was not unknown before the American Revolutionary War (also known as the American War for Independence). This thick soup made of tripe, vegetables and seasoned heavily with pepper could have been brought to the U.S. by people enslaved from the Caribbean Islands.
The soup was made popular by African-American Philadelphians who would sell it right out in the street. The traditional recipe is said to have had cassava as well as the soup thickener.
According to popular retellings of the story, the Pepper Pot soup became central to the American Revolutionary War efforts because of Christopher Ludwig. He was the baker general of the Continental Army and a German immigrant to Philadelphia.
The baker worked in Philadelphia, which is likely how he knew the food of the city. He was a staunch supporter of the American Revolution and was a great friend of President George Washington. Christopher Ludwig was even given a certificate of conduct due to his service to the army. His efforts were invaluable and appreciated so much that his certificate was handwritten by President Washington himself.
During the war, in 1777, the winters were harsh, and the farmers refused to sell food to the Continental army, and instead sold it to the British. Christopher Ludwig was the baker general, which meant that his primary task was to bake bread for the troops. But in this scenario, with no grain to eat insight and faced with the prospect of starvation, George Washington put Christopher Ludwig in charge of feeding his men. And Christopher Ludwig presented the Pepper Pot soup.
This soup was what the army ate to survive that winter, and it’s how it earned the nickname ‘The Soup That Won The War.’
Pepper Pot Day timeline
The American colonies want freedom from the British.
Ludwig is appointed by the Continental Congress as Baker General.
During this time, Christopher Ludwig makes Pepper Pot soup for the army.
The soup is discontinued in 2010.
Pepper Pot Day FAQs
What is Pepper Pot soup?
Also known as the Philadelphia Pepper Pot, this soup is a thick stew made up of beef tripe, vegetables, and peppercorns.
Why is Pepper Pot Soup called ‘The Soup That Won The War’?
The pepper pot soup was the only food the Continental Army could get their hands on in the winter of 1777 to 1778 in the Valley Forge. During that time, the army trained and emerged better and ready for battle.
Do people still eat Pepper Pot soup?
Yes, the soup is delicious and a vital part of Philadelphia’s history, so people still enjoy it.
How To Celebrate Pepper Pot Day?
Make your version
Pick a recipe online and make your very own version of the soup that won the war!
Nothing like the real deal. Head over and grab a bowlful of the authentic stuff!
Host a lunch
And have your guests bring their versions of the pepper pot soup.
5 Facts About Pepper Pot Day That Will Blow Your Mind
Famous paintings also feature the soup
John Lewis Krimmel’s 1811 painting included the soup.
It’s in a book about Harriet Tubman
This book by Catherine Clinton is called “Road to Freedom.”
The Army became better after 1778
Surviving the winter on the soup let the army train and become more disciplined.
Guyana has a similar dish
It’s one of the national dishes of Guyana.
Black women sold it first
Christopher Ludwig had a taste in Philadelphia streets then remembered the soup in the harsh winter.
Why We Celebrate Pepper Pot Day
We love a hearty soup
In the winter, there’s nothing like a thick bowl of soup to warm you up!
We want to eat the soup that won a war
With a history like that, the soup has got to be special, correct?
We love celebrating the country’s diverse food
And does it get more diverse than an adaptation of a soup from the West Indies by a German immigrant?
Pepper Pot Day dates