Q. Do you know where and when Robert Benchley's essay "The dear dead table d'hote days" was published? Do you think that it may have been inspired by the annual game dinners at the Grand Pacific Hotel each year (I know that they held a game dinner in 1885; I believe I even once saw a copy of that menu posted on the internet)?
A. The essay appears in the book Chips off the Old Benchley (1949), beginning on page 329. According to Gordon E. Ernst, Jr,. in Robert Benchley: An Annotated Bibliography, it was first published in Liberty magazine #7, (April 19, 1930) beginning on page 26. Looking at the essay, Benchley says he's reading an 1885 menu from a Chicago hotel.