For over 150 years the patrons of McSorley's (Home away From Home until the sign fell down) have been served a light or dark ale and a plate of cheddar cheese, sliced onions and salten crackers.
The origins of this culinary combination of flavors and textures can be found in the needs of Old John's customers. In the beginning most of them worked as teamsters and packers for the printing businesses that surrounded McSorley's. The men needed a quick and nourishing bite, and a few pints of brew to ease their way through their busy day. The cheese and crackers were the least that Old John could offer. The foaming malt beverage was a necessity... The Onions? Well... you wouldn't want the teamsters of New York to be thought of as a bunch of drunks now would you? Just a touch of onions and that is a non-event.
Old John and his customers might have enjoyed their brew but they weren't stupid. And onions were vegetables that were good for you too!
To this day the office drones of the area are offered the same refreshment and prophylactic as those first hard working (weren't they all?) men. Tradition is a wonderful thing to follow, especially for those of us who enjoy a beer or two with lunch... bring on the onions!