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An interesting article:

http://www.slate.com/id/2117567/

Excerpt:

<<"Have You Eaten Yet?," the wonderful Chinese restaurants exhibit now on view at New York's Museum of Chinese in the Americas, takes a Babel of ephemera and makes it speak. One's visit begins with an absence: the never-photographed first Chinese eateries in America, known as "chow chows." These sprung up in California in the mid-19th century to serve Cantonese laborers—true holes in the wall, it seems, marked, as per a Chinese tradition, with yellow cloth triangles. No menus have survived, if ever there were any; who knows but that they served stir-fried buffalo. Still, we may gather that the workers liked the fare, for we do have the advertisements of competitors, who suddenly began offering free potatoes with their meals. The spud strategy was ultimately for naught, though: The Chinese restaurant had been born.

Would anyone have bet the bank on Chinese food back then? According to Chinese Restaurant News, there are now more Chinese restaurants in America than there are McDonald's franchises—nearly three times as many in fact.
>>
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