Seattle Now & Then: Horse Meat Anytime

(click to enlarge photos)

Montana-Horse-Meat-MR-THEN
THEN: Eating a horse was considered less disturbing during the Second World War when beef was rationed. (Courtesy of Lawton Gowey)
Horse-Meat
NOW: Mr. D’s Greek Deli now holds the Pike Place address where Montana – and perhaps other – horse meat was sold for many years. (Photo by Jean Sherrard)

In these United States of America, eating horse meat is just not done by most people these days. Yet in this week’s historical view we see three grown men boldly confronting that taboo and raising another sign announcing in big letters “horse meat.” They promise to have it by Monday — inspected by the government and not rationed, so always available as long as there are Montana horses to slaughter.

While the name of the Pike Place Market business offering the equine steaks is the “Montana Horse Meat Market,” the buyer could not know for certain that all this promised horse meat would actually come from the Big Sky Country. They may have wished it were so. In 1942, the likely year for this sign-lifting, much of the Montana range was still open.

Partners Lewis Butchart and Andrew Larson were already selling beef and pork at 1518 Pike Place in the late 1930s, but then with the war and the rationing, they brought out the horses. In a 1951 Seattle Times advertisement, they used the Montana name and offered specialties like “young colt meat, tender delicious like fine veal.” “Montana” is still used in the 1954 City Directory, but not long after.

In the mid-1960s (and perhaps later) one could still find a smaller selection of cheval cuts (the French name for the meat the French often eat) at 1518 Pike Place. Market resident Paul Dunn remembers buying horse kidneys there for his cat. Those humans who have tried it commonly describe the meat as “tender, slightly sweet and closer to beef than venison.” Those who promote the meat might note that it is lower in fat and higher in protein than beef. That is not likely to change the average modern American’s view about eating an animal most view as a pet.

WEB EXTRA

Jean writes: A Mr. D’s employee led me down narrow steps into a basement storage area.  She recalled large iron hooks, hanging from the pipes, which had, Mr. D himself asserted, been used for hanging horse carcasses.  The hooks were recently removed.

Horse-meat-hooks
Where hooks once hung...
Behind the counter at Mr. D's
Behind the counter at Mr. D's

Anything to add, Paul?

Yes Jean but most of it uncertain, and more cheese than horse meat. I’ll caption what I know about the pixs below within their frames.   [May we remind our readers to click twice and sometimes three times to enlarge these images.]

This is surely an earlier vendor of viande de cheval (and have I got the French right Jean?).  It appears with a collection of Pike Market images, but it is not identified.  I looked up both "Range" and "Horse Meat" in Polk City Directories for 1915, 1920 and 1925, but got no citations.  So until some reader joins a more complete truth to this, we leave it here or there.
This is surely an earlier vendor of viande de cheval (and have I got the French right Jean?). It appears with a collection of Pike Market images, but it is not otherwise identified. I looked up both "Range" and "Horse Meat" in Polk City Directories for 1915, 1920 and 1925, but got no citations. So until some reader joins a more complete truth to this, we leave it here or there.
More meat at the Pike Place Market, but none of it horses who previously spent their happy lives running on the range.  This one is dated - 1963.  So some readers will remember this Pure Foods Shop.  The photographer was Bob Bradley.
More meat at the Pike Place Market, but none of it from horses who previously spent their happy lives running on the range. This one is dated - 1963. So some readers will remember this Pure Foods Shop. The photographer was Bob Bradley.
Some really big cheese headed for the Pike Place Market - but I don't know when, only that it was really really big.  I also do not know if this photo was taken first, or the one that follows of our really big cheese on a wagon was first.  I'm inclinded to thing this big cheese is here waiting for the wagon, but I am prepared to be corrected by someone who knows better how to "read" this photograph.
Some really big cheese headed for the Pike Place Market - but I don't know when, only that it was really really big. I also do not know if this photo was taken first, or the one that follows of our really big cheese on a wagon was first. I'm inclinded to think this big cheese is here waiting for the wagon, but I am prepared to be corrected by someone who knows better how to "read" this photograph.
Our really big cheese pauses to pose for the photographer on Railroad Avenue before heading up Western Avenue, most likely, to the Pike Place Market, its final resting place as one big piece of cheese.
Our really big cheese pauses to pose for the photographer on Railroad Avenue before heading up Western Avenue, most likely, to the Pike Place Market, its final resting place as one big piece of cheese.
Here's the ruins of what was once the largest structure in Seattle: the Pike Street coal wharf and bunkers.  It was photographed from the King Street Coal Wharf that replaced it in 1878.  This is but a detail of a pan of the city.  (This also appears in our Waterfront History Part 5, with a more detail description and in context too of more waterfront history.)  Note the south summit of Denny Hill on the right, and Queen Anne Hill on the left.  In between them is the north summit of Denny Hill, and running between the two "humps" of Denny Hill is Virginia Street.  The original for this is at the University of Washington's Special Collections.Finally, neither meat nor cheese Jean.  We are looking here into what will be the heart of the future Pike Place Market – a quarter-century later.  Rising  above the tides and off shore you can see the ruins of what was once the largest structure in Seattle: the Pike Street coal wharf and bunkers. It was photographed ca. 1881 from the King Street Coal Wharf that replaced it in 1878. This is but a detail of a pan of the city. (This also appears in our Waterfront History Part 5, with a more detailed description and in context too of more, yes,  waterfront history.) Note the south summit of Denny Hill on the right, and Queen Anne Hill on the left. In between them is the north summit of Denny Hill, and running between the two “humps” of Denny Hill is Virginia Street. The original for this is at the University of Washington’s Special Collections.

3 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: Horse Meat Anytime”

  1. Horse meat is always a contentious topic alas, but if you’re not vegetarian, it’s definitively something worth.

    As for the “pet view”, why would it be different than venison (Bambi anyone?), rabbits, chickens or even pigs nowadays? Funny too how exotic meat markets would sell any meat you can imagine but horse meat.

    In any case, as always, nice post folks!

  2. Hey Paul, saw your article on Montana Horsemeat market. I guess you don’t realize that in 1979 to 1980 in Pike Place there was a Montana Horsemeat market across from Shy Giant Yogurt. My friend Ed and I met and worked there in the fall of 1979 till it closed in late 1980. It was owned by Mike Spring and the head butcher was a man named Bob Peterson.

    I was going to Shoreline community college at the time and Ed had just got out of the navy. To see the people’s faces when they came through the market was always a sight. On Saturday’s we’d have a horse meat roast cooking on an open spit and gave samples away. People loved it and half didn’t realize it was horse meat or when they did they couldn’t believe how good it tasted. And people from Montana always had a near heart attack at the sight of a horse meat market. Lila and Mila still run their oriental goods shop kitty corner if you need verification. You can ask them if they remember Drew, Ed and Bob Peterson. They will.

    Just thought you had to have all the facts.

    Thanks much.

    Drew

  3. During WWII meat was rationed along with sugar, gas, tires, butter, shoes and other “staples”. So the horse steaks served up at a restaurant on about 6th or 7th and Madison were delicious. In our backyard on Mercer Island we raised rabbits and “phickens” (Rhode Island red chickens crossed with pheasants)which ended up on our Sunday family dinner table. We had a “Victory” garden and made out quite good. I just wonder if today’s “U.S.American” could make it through a “real” war?? I have my doubts!!

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