The History Of The Hangtown Fry

What’s Cooking America


Photo courtesy of Michael Procopio and his blog, Food for The Thoughtless

“Hangtown Fry History:

1849 – During the late 1800s, Hangtown (known as Placerville today) was a base of supply for the mining region in California. It was originally known as Old Dry Diggins (it was called Dry Diggins because the miners had to cart the dry soil down to the running water to wash out the gold), but was shortly labeled Hangtown after three desperadoes had been hanged there on the same day and from the same giant white oak tree. The only stump that remains of the original tree is hidden in the cellar of a bar on Main Street in Placerville named -quite aptly – “The Hangman’s Tree.”


“Mountain Democrat newspaper columnist, Doug Noble, wrote this interesting and charming story of how the event could have taken place:

The Hangtown Fry is the official dish of both the city of Placerville and the county of El Dorado. There is also a group known as the Hangtown FRYers trying to promote the dish as the “Official Dish of the Great State of California,” according to Doug Noble. Doug said, “The state legislature is cool on the subject, as they have no sense of humor. We actually got some support from a restaurant in Sydney, Australia. They love Hangtown Fry.”

“1853 – According to George Leonard Herter and Berthe E. Herter, from their book Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices, they wrote:

In the eighteen hundreds San Francisco was quite a town. The Barbary Coast which was a section of saloons and houses of prostitution, was know the world over as second only to similarly areas in Rio and Hong Kong . . . In 1853, a man named Parker opened a saloon called Parker’s Bank Exchange in the Montgomery Block. a famous building built by General Halleck. Parker invented and served a dish called Hangtown Fry. Its fame spread all over San Francisco and the surrounding areas. A few drinks and a Hangtown Fry was and is considered a gentleman’s evening . . . Today the real Hangtown Fry is no longer to be found in San Francisco or anywhere else. It still is on the menus but when you get it you get nothing buy an egg omelet with oysters and a couple of pieces of bacon across the top. The real Hangtown Fry is too slow to make and too expensive for our modern day restaurants.”

There are two recipes for the Hangtown Fry located in this post.
The first is from :

“Hangtown Fry Recipe I:

This recipe has been adapted from the Blue Bell Cafe (no longer in business) which was on Placerville’s Main Street made this version of the Hangtown Fry for many years.”

The second is from :

“Hangtown Fry Recipe II:

This recipe is from the February 1975 Gourmet Magazine”.
From Sarah :
They are both worth checking out.
So is the history of this wonderful dish. I would love it anyway.

Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices, by George Leonard Herter and Berthe E. Herter, published by Herter’s Inc., 1960.
City of Placerville, City History.
The Origin of the Hangtown Fry, by Doug Noble, Mountain Democrat newspaper, July 31, 2000.
Gourmet Magazine, February 1975.

And the post where I found it.
What’s Cooking America

Culinary Lore : What Is A Hangtown Fry?

What is a Hangtown Fry?


Hangtown (Placerville) during the Gold Rush, circa 1850

“The Hangtown Fry, as legend has it, came out of Hangtown, California in 1849. Of course it must have been 1849 since the guy who got the ball rolling on the dish was reportedly a gold miner, who had just struck it rich. Eager to celebrate his new-found wealth with appropriate fare, he went into the diner of the El Dorado Hotel and ordered “the finest and most expensive meal in the house.” The most expensive things available were eggs, oysters, and bacon. The cook put them together in a dish and the Hangtown Fry was born. It is still available all along California’s Gold Rush Country.1″

From Sarah: These are the references listed in the post. Good History.


1. Kelly, Leslie A. Traveling California’s Gold Rush Country. Helena, MT: Falcon, 1997. 116-117.

2. “Menu at a Glance.” Tadich Grill. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. <;.

3. Goggans, Jan, and Aaron DiFranco. The Pacific Region. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2004. 254.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. This looks to a very tasty dish. I might try to prepare it one day.

    1. It’s wonderful.

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