Lime cheese seafood salad, 1954. Photo by: Via nesbitsvintage.com
January 15, 2014 9:52:25 AM
Maybe you've seen the BuzzFeed Food piece called "21 Truly Upsetting Vintage Recipes" that has been making the Internet rounds the past few days. But I couldn't take the chance you'd miss it.
Compiled by BuzzFeed staffer Arianna Rebolini, the recipe images of mismatched flavors and gelatin overload take us back to the days of aspic molds and dubious creations like liver sausage pineapple, or 1944's super bologna salad loaf at left. Exploring vintage cookbooks and food ads can be fascinating -- and off-putting as well. But it reminds us that foods and trends evolve.
"World War II spurred an industrial food boom, introducing many technologies to keep foods fresh longer, from freezing to dehydrating," wrote Hunter Oatman-Stanford for Collectors Weekly in February 2013. "At the war's end, packaged food companies realized they had to convince domestic consumers to purchase their wartime products or risk shuttering their businesses."
During the late '40s and early '50s, new ideas about food were thrust upon the public as the industry tried to "persuade millions of Americans to develop a lasting taste for meals that were a lot like field rations," says Laura Shapiro in her book, "Something From the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America." Enter the era of molded salads and "loaves."
Mid-century evolutions in the food world brought us frozen foods, condensed soups, Spam. While some products and ideas were truly regrettable, others stuck around. Casseroles were a big thing and still are, as is cooking with the broiler and the concept of a cocktail hour with appetizers and dips, notes foodie Ruth Clark, who tested about 75 vintage recipes in 2013 for her website, The Mid-Century Menu (midcenturymenu.com).
Jiggly with it
And then there was Jell-O. Ever since the inimitable Jack Benny began telling radio audiences about it in the 1930s, American cooks have been seemingly enthralled. Its main appeal was probably convenience -- boiling water, cold water, and voila, there's dessert. But somewhere along the way, people began encasing everything in the jiggling, viscous stuff. I love Jell-O, don't get me wrong. But Jell-O with shrimp frosting? Tuna and Jell-O pie? Well, thankfully we've moved on.
You'll get a kick out of the "21 Truly Upsetting Recipes." (There is actually one so appealing, the igloo meat loaf, I included the 1967 recipe today.) The images and concoctions may even nostalgically remind you -- as they did me -- of our beloved mothers in the kitchen. I can just picture mine reading some of these in her day. I'm just thankful I can't remember her trying any of them out on me.
ON THE WEB:
IGLOO MEAT LOAF
For the meat loaf:
2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
6 tablespoons instant minced onion
2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1-1/3 cups evaporated milk
For potato frosting:
1-1/2 cups water
2/3 cups evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 envelope (3-1/2 oz.) instant mashed potatoes
Cheddar cheese slices
(Source: Family Circle, 1967; via rochellevintagerecipes.blogspot.com)
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.