The “Whistle Walk” story is related at many Southern plantations where the kitchen is located apart from the main house. It is an imaginative tale, and one with some logic to support it but no actual documentation.
One historian who spent her life researching topics involving women’s work and home life wrote in 1986 that she had never found any contemporary references to the walkways connecting outside kitchens with inside dining rooms being called “whistle walks.” The earliest known written reference comes in 1954 in the book, Shadows in Silver: A Record of Virginia 1850-1900 in Contemporary Photographs, where a picture of a plantation kitchen from the 1890s carries a caption that mentions the story.
“I suspect the story is apocryphal,” wrote late Patricia Gibbs, “or perhaps depicts a mid-to-late nineteenth-century practice. Certainly if it really occurred, it was never so widespread as interpretations in many southern historic house museums imply. On the other hand, I think it is quite likely that food en route to the dining rooms was occasionally sampled. Since there is much reliable information to convey about foods and serving practices, I would discourage repeating this story.”
Bill Backus, Historic Interpreter at Ben Lomond Historic Site/Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park in Prince William County asked about this story.