A New Aspic

The title of the recipe given in this 1960 ad is “Fabulous Aspic.” But it was not fabulous. Oh no.

It was new, though.

Really, ketchup mixed with lemon (or lime) juice, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar, jelled in a mold? No, no, ketchup (or catsup), however you spell it, has no business being in close proximity to gelatin.

The shrimp, the hard boiled egg, the olives and the avocado are welcome to stay. But please, Del Monte, please take your Fabulous Aspic far away and leave it there.

And please do not involve the delicious cold boiled shrimp, or any of its friends there on the – block of something that is supposed to be out in the – is it a rain forest? A terrarium? Wherever. They do not deserve to  be mixed into the aspic (which is what you suggest at the bottom of the ad).

We’ll just pretend this never happened, OK?

All’s Prell That Ends Prell

LJ Vintage Ads

Well, I like Prell shampoo, too. But not this much.

Prell and Herbal Essence were the two main emerald green shampoos you had to choose from back in the 1970s (this ad is from 1960, though). I liked Herbal Essence, myself. I’m not sure that they used any herbs in the making of it (I suspect not) but it was evocative in the same way that Coty Rare Earth herbal solid perfumes were. I loved those, too. They should have made those for a few more years so I could have stocked up. I use solid perfume now, too, only it comes in a fancy little carved compact thing and you can’t get it in the drugstore.

But about the Prell…it was first made by Procter and Gamble in 1947 and came in a tube or a bottle – still does, in fact. It’s supposed to be a good clarifying shampoo, too. Gets all the hairspray et al off your hair. This is great for me since when it is humid out, I need to use all kinds of potions and hairsprays to tame my – how shall I say it? – my ebullient hair.

But even so, I would never think of quelling its vivacious nature in a lather wig. I might drench my hair in Liquid Prell luxury, but always give it a good old rinse. Someone needs to tell this dame to do that, too. Wouldn’t the lather start dripping, anyway? And it would get all over those fancy emeralds. That’s no good.

Unrelated Note: Am working on the Case of the Missing Flickr Images…I know, I know. There are a lot. Actually now I’ve asked the Flickr Powers That Flickr very sweetly if I could just revert to a free account, which ought to fix matters (I hope so, anyway).

One Shell Of A Dinner

LJ Vintage Ads

Betty Crocker looks a little bit worried and it’s not just because she’s a disembodied head.

Well, she should be worried. Because that family of six is not going to be best pleased when they get a look at their dinner tonight. Dinner in a Shell, indeed. It is Something in a Shell, all right. Primal soup perhaps. But not really something you could call Dinner.

It floats in the air, barely supported by a strange hand attached to an arm clad in what looks like a Butterball turkey wrapper. The Shell – and the arm, for that matter – are both several times the size of Betty’s head. So she probably feels that it is politic to praise them and stay well out of trouble.

Poor Betty, traumatized by dinner. And she’s not the only one.

What in the world is in this Dinner in a Shell? It is supposed to be – Betty assures us (and herself) – that it is beef, pork, onions and green peppers. Also there are lima beans lurking in the brew. And cabbage. And gravy. And sour cream. But I think there may be small creatures in there, too.

Despite what this 1940s era ad says, this is not the way to “feed your family royally, yet keep your food bills down.” Because you will want them to not only keep the food bills down, but keep the actual food down. And from the look of this, I don’t think that’s going to happen.

Real Gift Excitement

Mother and Skip must have got into the rum-laced eggnog a little bit early on Christmas morning. It’s the only way to explain their facial expressions – happy, glazed-as-a-doughnut contentment – as they contemplate Father.

This kind of “real gift excitement” is not something I ever, ever want to see in real life. Why, he’s pointing that Weller power tool straight in the direction of his loved ones – the people who just gave him that thing! I don’t think he means any harm. But you can just tell he shouldn’t be anywhere near a soldering gun, or a homecrafter kit, or – Heaven forbid – a power sander.

Two hours later he’s soldered all of Mother’s earrings together. And the silverware is now a garland of forks and spoons – perfect for the tree, except that it’s so heavy the tree fell over. Please, someone, distract him with another gift – like a tie – before he notices all the tin cans in the pantry.

[Advertisement from Popular Science, December 1960.]

A Bad Craft With Unhealthy Fruit


This could be your head!

Oh no, it couldn’t. Because I do not want any part of Vincent Price’s dried-apple crafts. Not even on (especially not on!) Halloween. The ad says that if we all make little dried apple heads – and wear them as necklaces and things (what a thought) – it will be “like having Halloween all year round!” Yes, wearing an old piece of fruit on a string around my neck in August will really make it seem like the end of October. I’ll have to try that sometime, Vincent.

Not right now, though.

This ad is probably from the mid-1970s. I know this because I did some research (i.e. I Googled a little). I found a bit from Ms. Magazine, a delightful understated bit of snark, about this product:

“…dried apple sculpture is a respected folk art, but Vincent Price on the cover of Whiting’s grotesque Shrunken Head Apple Sculpture distorts a good craft, and a healthy fruit.”

I love that prissy phrasing: a good craft and a healthy fruit. As opposed to all those unhealthy fruits you see in the store. And – a good craft? Maybe so, but I can’t quite picture Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan sitting around making little granny dolls from apples, can you? A woman needs a shrunken apple head like a fish needs a bicycle!

Here’s a photo of the actual, horrible kit over at Boing Boing.

Anyway:  Happy Halloween, Samhain and All Hallows’ Eve. And Happy Reformation Day – today was the day in 1517 that Martin Luther tacked up his list of  95 theses (known as the 95 Theses, big surprise) on that church door in Wittenberg, Germany. And happy birthday to John Keats, born in 1795, who wrote sonnets about peaks in Darien, though he had never even been to Connecticut.* Also odes to nightingales. But never about apples, dried or fresh.

Oh, and to all my fellow NaNoWriMo-ers out there, happy last day before we all start staring at those blank screens and freaking out! I’ll be around, here and on Virtual Dime Museum – just not every day. And if the posts are even shorter and more inane than usual (that goes for both blogs and double for The Doubletake if I even get over there) – you’ll know why.

*I do know that he didn’t mean Darien, Connecticut.

I Love Lucy’s Pajamas

Oh dear. This is not an “elegant” look, no matter what this 50s era ad (I found it at Wikimedia Commons, here*) has to say. I mean I guess they’d have to say that. No, wait. Love doesn’t mean never having to say you’re sorry (and that goes double if you ordered these things). What love really means is never having to say you look elegant in orange pants. Yeah, that about covers it.

No, do not tell us that there is a “new Sport Shirt look” in the world of pajamas. That is bad enough. But what is worse: that you are supposed to wear them as a couple. If one of you goes down this road to sartorial ruin, well, you are obliged to go down it together. The ad copy specifies that “you’ll enjoy your leisure together more” if you and your Significant Other are wearing checked shirts and orange pants. Why, you can stroll around the house together, hands in pockets (no, not each others pockets – this is the 1950s, you know) and – grin.

Even Lucy and Desi know that these are not good pajamas. Look at them! Look at those forced smiles. And Lucy is standing on Desi’s toes there, see? Because he is probably about to start complaining about these terrible things, in very rapid and emphatic Spanish. It’s like a moment from an I Love Lucy episode that never was. I can’t wait to see Fred and Ethel in those things. Fred’s pants will be belted up around his armpits. And he’ll say something terrible about how Ethel looks like a harvest moon or a giant orange or something. And then they’ll all get stuck locked outside the apartment house, or end up at the Tropicana on the night Ricky is opening his new Fashions of 1953 revue.

I really wish they’d made that episode, don’t you?

*And also in a Life magazine from 1953, for what it’s worth ($6.95, apparently).

Just One Spam Thing After Another

Graphic Design – TJS Labs

Hear them under that yellow smog
While camping in a piney bog
Vacationing in 1940
On a rustic little sortie

You’d think that dinner would be swell
A-barbecuing in the dell
But such a fit of nervous giggling
Does not imply that trout are wriggling

Delectably upon the grill
Those glassy eyed grinning people will
Say “Flippity flop, hurrah, it’s done!”
And put some SPAM upon a bun.

Oh, people who overcompensate
Pretending to love the things they ate
Will often find that indigestion
Will pitch a tent near their intestine.

So please approach with looks askance
Any strange meats that come in cans
And, happy people, just please stop
Extolling meals that “flippity flop.”

The Egg And I (And A Band Aid)

LJ Vintage Ads

Never before a bandage that sticks like this!
And never before has boredom had a mandate
That did decree: so boring are boiled eggs,
Why not enliven cooking with a Band-Aid?

Yes, go ahead: stick them on all your eggs
That will be fun! Into the tiny pot
Lower them one by one, though if you have
Raw eggs a-dangle in both hands, watch out -

For they must fall and make a mess: it is
The kitchen’s strange unutterable law
That something untoward will occur and then
You’ll have a horrid mess upon the floor.

Alas for Band Aids and for using them all!
For if your hand in boiling steam will linger
You’ll soon regret your fancy tricks, because
You’ll want to put a Band Aid on that finger.

We the Poster People

Well, hello there, Poster People.

And hello also to the Edie-Sedgwick-meets-Sally-Struthers creature (and what a meeting that would be, would it not?) who is sitting demurely in front of her Poster.

Now YOU can be BLOWN UP, cry the Poster People. You too can get a makeover from a raccoon who also makes strange black hair bows as a sideline, and put on a dress made out of two old dresses you were about to give away anyhow. Now perch on a random barstool and hold a snapshot. Try not to look too excited!

Yes, we will blow you up…or anyone you want…into as GIANT black and white POSTER 1 1/2 ft by 2 ft. 

Poster People, you may want to rethink the tagline you are so fond of. People do NOT want to be blown up. Not me, not anyone I know. It is the 1970s (in this ad, anyway, it is) and, you know – give peace a chance, etc. etc. 

Great to give! Great to get! Great for decorating walls! Yeah, what an amazing idea. Putting a poster on the wall. Although really, if someone gave me this poster, I’d probably use it for something else. Maybe wrapping up some leftovers for the raccoon.

Another dose of kitsch (twice in one week!) – brought to you thanks to the fabulous  LiveJournal Vintage Ads.

The Lost Condiment

I wanted to show you a picture of cocktail onions today because I have a 1950s Christmas centerpiece idea from the fabulous Sadie LeSueur* (past Sadie posts are here and here) to tell you about. Let’s get that out of the way first and then I want to talk about this peanut butter madness that you see down there on the right.

Gumdrop Tree Boys Life Dec 1957
Gumdrops: with or without splinters? (Boys’ Life Dec 1957)

Sadie wants you to go get a plastic Christmas tree from the dollar store and hang cocktail onions, radish roses and stuffed olives from it. Like teeny Christmas ornaments, get it? She says that “these little trees are usually used to hold gumdrops and can be found at candy counters in ten cent stores.” The picture over here is the best I could do. Boys’ Life suggests using a twig from outside for this Gumdrop Tree, but I think a plastic dime store thing would be more – hygienic. Also less splintery. Maybe you should just use the apple.

Skippy Life Oct 10 1960
Life, October 10, 1960

Anyway, I went looking for a beautiful picture of cocktail onions (or radishes, or olives) to go with this recipe, if you can call it that – because, alas, Sadie LeSueur’s book has no illustrations – you have to use your imagination! And I was stopped in my virtual tracks by this Skippy ad, in which cocktail onions are scattered about on top of peanut butter and who knows what else. This is one of those classic 1950s put-the-ingredient-on-everything ads, and not only have they lathered Skippy on every snack food you can think of, they’ve named all the snacks after Skippy, too.

Skucumbers = Skippy on cucumber slices
Skarrots = Skippy on carrot slices
Skeezers = Skippy in between two pieces of cheddar cheese

My favorite two snack names are Skipikkles – Skippy on pickle chips! – and Skooties. No, they don’t have anything to do with cooties (I think). They are crackers spread with a mixture of chili sauce and Skippy peanut butter. Imagine the possibilities for conversation: Welcome to the party, folks – we have Skooties!

*Author of Recipes, Party Plans and Garnishes (originally published in 1958; I have the 1970 edition).