Michigan’s Butchers & Meat Markets, 1900-1920s
I remember going down to our local small town grocer where the smell of fresh ground meat smacked you right in the face. Some people found it offensive, but the smell of freshly cut steaks, chops, and roasts seemed so enticing. I'd walk in and look at all the fresh meat behind the counter: big 3-inch thick roasts, inch-thick steaks of all sizes, and nice fat juicy chops. Once you placed an order, the meat man wrapped it up in paper, tied it with some thick string, marked the price with a pen, and you were on your way.
Working in a grocery store when I was in high school, I learned about the ground beef-to-fat ratio: 1/3 fat to 2/3 meat. Voila – instant hamburger. I gotta admit, I enjoyed putting those strips of cut beef through the grinder along with huge chunks of beef fat, listening to the squishy noises it made. And it smelled so fresh and tempting.
The butcher shops and meat markets of the 2000s are such a far cry from what they were a hundred (and more) years ago – animal carcasses were gutted and hung inside the store and outside, so customers could come and pick out the meat they wanted for dinner. Cattle, chickens, and pigs were the main course...chicken heads and feet were saved, along with cow tails, hooves, pig ears and snouts, and every innard you can think of.
Our ancestors' butcher shops may seem grotesque by today's standards, but back then it was just a way of life...the way things were, with little or no complaints.
The photo gallery below shows a handful of images of old Michigan butcher shops, butchers, and meat markets, mostly from the early 1900s.
Michigan Meat Markets & Butchers, 1900-1920s
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