Molded salads became popular with Americans early in the 20th century, and remained a staple well into the 1960s. Fueled by the industrious advertising and promotion of the Knox Gelatine Company, sweet and tart molded salads were so much in vogue by the mid-1940s that the 1946 edition of Irma Rombauer’s iconic “Joy of Cooking” contained no less than 69 separate recipes ranging from Clam Juice Ring to Golden Glow Salad to Molded Horseradish Salad. The Welfare and Recreational Association of Public Buildings and Grounds might well have served Chinese Chicken Salad in its cafeterias when it was popular 80-odd years ago.
By the late 1930s, the company that eventually became Guest Services was firmly established, with 48 units in operation including six swimming pools; a golf course; a working flour mill named Pierce Mill, which supplied the flour used for company baking; and two “Indian Rooms,” one in the Department of Commerce building and the current Indian Craft Shop at the Department of Interior. In 1937, the company built and moved into its first headquarters building on 21st St., NW, where it stayed until the early 1980s.