Food

10 Vintage Menu Designs from the Explorers Club’s New York Dinners

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The Explorers Club was founded in 1904 by a couple of full-time explorers and a ragtag crew of archaeologists, journalists, and professors — they finally began admitting women members in 1981, starting with the geologist Kathryn Sullivan and deep-sea diver Sylvia Earle.

Today, the club is still driven by “the instinct to explore,” especially at the dinner table. Once a year, international members gather in New York to honor “various accomplishments in exploration” and to eat extremely adventurously, from a banquet that famously celebrates the marginalized delights of maggots, scorpions, and roaches, and offal of all sorts, from duck tongue to pig’s face. (Back in 2001, three allergy-prone diners suffered from burning, itchy mouths after eating improperly prepared tarantula tempura — the spider had been served with its urticating bristles, or poisonous leg hair, still intact.)

This year’s feast — the club’s 109th — takes place on Saturday evening at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Here’s a look back at some of the club’s menu designs over the years, starting in 1896 when it was still called the Arctic Club, through 1974.

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