As the 19th century approached, an increase in sales of the cookbook started that continues to this day.

Birthdays and Cooking
Birthdays and Cooking

Cookbooks of the Past

A clay tablet from Babylon , dating back to ca.1500 BC contains recipes for some elegant meals. This tablet is believed to be one of the oldest cookbooks on record. The ancient Greeks and Romans served exquisite dishes and included many forms of art in their fruits and vegetables much as we do today when entertaining.
Up until the 18th century, cookbooks were used by the wealthy only. Their servants were not supposed to know how to read a cookbook, so the mistress of the household would read the directions as the servant prepared the mixture. Later, cookbooks were written having the middle class in mind and they started turning up in more homes.
Cookbooks came out in the mid 1700s in Colonial America. A reprint of an English edition called The Complete Housewife by Eliza Smith appeared in 1742 in Williamsburg , Virginia . In 1796 Amelia Simmons, self-published American Cookery and it became known as the first American cookbook. This small blue book was the first self-published cookbook and the first cookbook to be written by a woman.
At that time specific measurements were not that important and cookbooks gave directions like "add a pinch of salt, or "mix as for a rich pastry." Then came an improvement in the accuracy of measurements and Fannie Farmer's Boston Cooking School taught that exact measurements must always be applied.
As the 19th century approached, an increase in sales of the cookbook started that continues to this day. Before the 1876 Centennial, over 1,000 cookbooks were published causing the authors to become quite popular. Female novelists such as Mary Randolph, distant cousin to Thomas Jefferson and Sarah Josepha Hale, author of Mary had a little lamb, even wrote a cookbook.
The 19th century cookbooks offered special treats such as essays containing advice or household tips. Lycia Child wrote suggestions on "How to Endure Poverty:" Women in particular felt like they were getting a special treat, not only were they getting a cookbook but useful household tips as well.