One hundred and seven years after it sank, it's hard to believe there's any aspect of the Titanic's tragic voyage that we don't know about. The supposedly unsinkable ship hit an iceberg and went down in the North Atlantic in April of 1912. A new book by a Wausau native takes an unusual approach to the Titanic's history.
Veronica Hinke's book is called The Last Night on the Titanic: Unsinkable Drinking, Dining, & Style. The book explores the foods and drinks passengers consumed during the ill-fated journey. Recipes from the time are weaved into the story, creating a culinary-narrative take on the tragedy.
Hinke explains her own fascination with the Titanic, and why she believes the story of the ship still interests people today.
"It is still so relevant because it helps us understand why we are the way we are today. The foods and the drinks that we consume today are so tied to our history. That's why I wanted to look back at what they were eating and drinking aboard the Titanic," Hinke says.
Along with a broad, historical connection to the event, there is a lesser-known Wisconsin connection that Hinke highlighted.
"One hundred and seven years ago today [April 17], a letter arrived in Brooklyn, New York. That is where Merrill, Wisconsin native H.V. Kaltenborn lived. The letter was written to him by a Titanic passenger also from Merrill, Wisconsin."
She continues, "The letter had been written by "Popcorn Dan", Dan Coxon, a popcorn vender in Merrill. And the letter said, 'I'm coming to meet you and spend time with you in Brooklyn on my way back from Merrill, Wisconsin. I would love it if you could meet me at Chelsea Piers when the ship comes in. I'm coming on the Titanic," Hinke says.
Of course, Coxon didn't get to meet Kaltenborn. However, his story, clearly, lives on through the research and commemoration by those like Hinke.
Hinke says her stories always boil down to the inspirational people she writes about.
"Every food story I've ever written always, at the core of each one, ended up being about the people, and that doesn't seem to change. This book is no different. Those stories of hope and resilience...I think that's why the Titanic's story is still alive today," Hinke says.