“The Wiener The World Awaited!”

IMG_0002 wieners in can 1950s LHJ

I’m not sure that the world realized this. All the other issues at hand in the 1950s: the Cold War, the postwar economy, trying to fit into pencil skirts…all solved, nay “revolutionized,” by all the (gulp) “quickie meals” that would arise from Oscar Meyer Wieners in a Can. And also the Sack o’ Sauce. Can’t forget the Sack o’ Sauce, can we now?

Also: it is not a plus when a food (especially food in a can, or emanating from a sack) is “so different it’s patented!” It’s different, all right.

A decade after this ad, they had that commercial where the kids sing that they wanted to be Oscar Meyer Wieners, remember that? I do, it was on into the 1970s. I never actually knew any kid who expressed that desire; nor did I really want to be a hotdog. Supposedly the deal was that if you were one of those things, everyone would “be in love with you” – an idea that I don’t want to deconstruct right now (or ever, thanks) but…I think that it’s a more likely proposition that IF you are a hotdog, people will EAT you for dinner. Not be in love with you!

And if you are a hotdog in a can…oh, ugh. Never mind. Moving right along…

Here’s a recipe to go with this entrancing product. From Recipes For Young Adults (1973), here is a grown-up “After-The-Game Snack”:


8 frankfurters
8 slices sandwich bread
1/2 cup grated cheese
3 Tb chopped onion
3 Tb prepared mustard
8 stuffed olives

1. Cover frankfurters with boiling water; let stand 8 minutes; drain.
2. Butter bread (remove crusts if desired).
3. Combine chopped onion and mustard.
4. Dip buttered side of bread in grated cheese and spread onion mixture on unbuttered side. Place a frankfurter diagonally across each slice on onion-mustard side.
5. Fasten two opposite corners of slice with toothpick.
6. Place bread side down on broiler pan 3 inches from heat. Broil 2-3 minutes on each side to toast.
7. Perch stuffed olives on toothpicks.

Aw, the olives are perched on the toothpicks, how cute. I didn’t know they could do tricks. But now that wieners come in a can I guess anything is possible.

Note that if we make this recipe we will have a leftover Sack o’ Sauce. I can’t imagine what we’re going to do with that.

Dodd’s Dyspepsia Pills, 1951

IMG Dodd's Almanac 1951

I don’t think dyspepsia is exactly the problem. When I was pregnant I got tired from taking a nap, never mind rolling out dough and cooking those big meat-potatoes-jellied-salad-and-maybe-a-layer-cake dinners.

Then comes the ancestral guilt: now you know what your mother suffered! Here, have some Dodd’s Pills!

The heroine’s mother has joined the French Foreign Legion apparently. That must have been some bout of dyspepsia.

Final panel: the guy’s just relieved she can pull off those four course meals again. Worried, hell. He was just hungry. And the lady? She can stuff down whatever’s on her plate, thanks to Dodd’s.

Plus, as you see at the top, she has turned into a giantess – about 20 times bigger than the baby. Those Dodd’s Dyspepsia Pills are something else!

The Kitchen Cabaret

Royledge 1953 Womans Day

Oh boy, this is something I just don’t understand. Why would you want your kitchen to sing? When I go in there I don’t want a Disney movie. You know, like Beauty and the Beast. All those plates and the teapot with the voice of Murder She Wrote (which is to say, Angela Lansbury). All that singing and – and cuteness.

I just want to cook something that’s halfway edible. That’s all I want. Oh, and a cold drink, it’s kind of hot out now. First rain, then hot. I feel like a piece of steamed broccoli.

And also – getting back to this lovely ad, which is from 1953 – why would cabinet-edging inspire any sentient being (or inanimate object for that matter) to burst into the sort of frenetic high notes that I fear are coming from the disembodied mother and girl in the upper left hand corner? Why are they up there anyway? Get down please, you know you’re not supposed to climb all over the furniture. Even if it IS singing.

But wait, there’s more. “Your kitchen can ‘dance’ with sparkling decorative color for pennies, in minutes.”  Dancing, too? I don’t want my plates and glasses dancing, thank you very much. The only thing that’ll be sparkling is the shards of glass all over my kitchen floor, that’s what.

A Zans For Cans (or, Zans and Zansibility)

IMG Hormel Chili ad WD 1953

Here’s why more people REALLY buy Hormel chili in a can:

1. Because it is in a can, and they are tired and do not want to make chili from scratch. Even though it is pretty easy. Well, they just don’t feel like it, all right?

2. No one’s saying that it’s “extra delicious” – oh, the Hormel people are saying it. But come on, it is in a can. It will taste maybe OK. Delicious is stretching it. Let’s not expect extra deliciousness.

3. It is cheap. That is what “sensibly priced” means.

4. No wonder it is cheap. They saved money on the label design. Take a look at the can down at the bottom. That’s some graphic art they have going on! Not.

5. Those little ladies are happy though. The bowl of chili is about the size of a house compared to them. Or an Olympic swimming pool.

6. The last lady seems to be pushing the grocery boy, who is bent backwards from the weight of all the Hormel chili cans in the bags. And she is enjoying it too. That frozen, hostile smile. I don’t like the subtext of this at all.

7. Maybe people are buying it because they can’t see inside the can.

8. In which case why show the stuff in a bowl? This seems counterproductive.

“At our house we open cans
We have to open many cans
And that is why we have a Zans
A Zans for cans is very good
Have you a Zans for cans? You should!” — Dr. Seuss

Perhaps the grocery boy is actually a Zans.

Waffles De La Nuit

IMG Reddi-Wip ad WD 1953

When is cake not just cake? When you aim a spritz of fake whipped stuff out of the shaving cream can, that’s when. It’s ready when you are, it is even called Reddi-Wip. (Not suitable for spelling bee receptions, however).

How I love these ads, they are such fun. I love the hyperbole. This is not just fake whipped cream, it is “America’s Favorite Dessert Glamorizer.” It does to the chocolate cake what Maybelline does for your face. It glamorizes it, since “they’ve been taking your chocolate cake for granted.” Yeah, that’s what’s been bothering me. Not the extreme drudgery, the cleaning, the incredibly stupid yellow frilly aprons. It’s that they don’t give the stupid dessert a standing ovation.

Reddi-Wip’s going to change all that. What the hell, it’ll probably change my whole life! The same can will also transform leftover cake and waffles. I don’t know if you can see the amazing recipes at the bottom of the ad but never fear, I can let you in on what is going on down there.

Chocolate Surprise = chunks of stale cake with chocolate pudding dumped on it, topped with you-know-what.

Strawberry Shortcake = biscuit dough spread with butter and brown sugar, rolled up and sliced in 1-inch slices. Bake “as usual” and add strawberries and – some of the stuff in that can of excitement right above the shortcake recipe, yellow like that terrible apron, you do see it don’t you!

And in the middle is my absolute favorite Reddi-Wip masterpiece. Here is Waffles De La Nuit. Waffles De La Nuit! What a fabulous name. Just take a frozen waffle. And – defrost that thing. And slop on some chocolate syrup, maybe some fruit, maybe not. Depends on what you have got on hand that nuit. And finish it off with – that stuff.

That stuff is very modern too, which means it is streamlined and automated and really easy to use. And it “is whipped automatically” – maybe they have a little Mixmaster in the can. Put it on anything – cake, gelatin, pudding, salad – yes, they say salad. Why not on the main course too, because heaven knows that’s probably being taken for granted too.

Believe me, no one will take anything for granted at the table ever again if you lather it with Reddi-Wip.

“Gel-Cookery Helps Us Eat Better”

IMG coffee sponge

Oh, Knox Sparkling Unflavored Gelatine, how we love you. “More and more thousands of women” – just like the over-caffeinated and disembodied woman in this ad – are savings loads of money on food by sticking Knox gelatine into everything. Just make it into a mold – anything you’ve got. It’ll go farther that way – leftover casseroles, cake, fruit, peas and carrots, tuna, anything. “Prove to yourself that homemade is always best, just as easy, and far more thrifty.” That would depend on what you’re gelling, though. I like the sound of the Coffee Sponge, though. We used to have coffee jello when I was growing up, and it was really good.

Coffee Sponge

1. Soften 1 envelope Knox Unflavored Gelatine in 1/2 cup cold coffee. 2. Dissolve gelatine and 1/4 cup sugar thoroughly in 1 cup very hot coffee.

3. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and, if desired, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla.

4. Chill or freeze until unbeaten egg white consistency.

5. Gradually beat 1/4 cup sugar into 2 stiffly beaten egg whites.

6. Whip gelatine until fluffy, very thick., fine-textured, and volume has doubled.7. Fold into egg white mixture.8. Turn into 2 1-lb. coffee cans waxed paper lined (or use half for a pie filling) and chill until firm.9. Unmold and decorate as desired.

10. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
I would substitute whipped cream for the raw egg whites and more vanilla for the lemon juice. I don’t know what the lemon juice is supposed to do for you, you don’t generally take your coffee with it. Maybe you could put a bit of brandy in instead of the lemon juice – Irish Coffee Sponge. I’ll bet you anything that the lady in the picture has been digging into some of that!

"Too Useful Ever To Be Without!"

OK, please settle down, advertising people. You are getting a little overheated. Just pour that handy pitcher of milk over your heads, it’s to the right of the green bowlful of peach pits riding in small red bumper cars.

Oh, that’s Weetabix with, um, walnuts and – plums, maybe. I have no idea. Very, very wet Weetabix. A Weetabix wetland. This wetland we may not want to preserve for future generations though.
See, that’s the thing about Weetabix – as soon as you put it in liquid, it collapses. But you can’t build an ad campaign around that – “goes completely soggy in milk, yum!” No, not really.
I love this ad. “Weetabix makes so many things!” Like what, you ask. Does it make money, business deals, clay pots? This cereal is busy.
“Yes,” the ad burbles on, ” for every meal of the day!” There is no escape from the Weetabix – it’s hyper, and it’s coming to every damn meal from now on. That bowl o’wetlands, the strange dry Bix in the top photo garnished with cherries or red marbles – you will not escape the Weetabix!
In the bottom photo it masquerades as canapes with some creamy spread and bits of green pepper and radish. Yes, at your next cocktail party you will be foisting these off on the guests. That’ll make an impression. Of some kind.
There is a cartoon lady at the bottom, I don’t know if you can see her. Her name, apparently, is Mrs. Crisp. As in what Weetabix is not, in milk. She lives in Burton Larimer, Northumberland, Weetabix capital of the world! She is determined to send you “a copy of my latest list of recipes…Plus a free sample…” There’s no way you’re getting away without the free sample. Mrs. Crisp has tons of the stuff and she wants to make a little space for the furniture.
She spends her days making up endless lists of recipes, seeing how many things she can pair it up with. Weetabix and lard, Weetabix and tripe, Weetabix and fish.
“Too useful ever to be without!” shout the canapes at the bottom. Not unless you can clean the house and do the washing-up, you’re not. Though they do sort of look like good pot scrubbers, come to think of it.

Alkalize This!

Here’s the blogging equivalent of – oh, I don’t know – a sorbet, a palate cleanser if you will. All these recipes and the staggering amount of jellied salad have inspired me to post this early 1950s ad for Tums.

The copy is as follows:
Relax and enjoy your food! If acid upset follows, simply take TUMS. These delicious antacids neutralize the excess acid that causes your stomach distress. That is why you feel fine – so fast. TUMS are carminative, comforting, soothing. Never over-alkalize [sic]
On the roll of Tums it reads “Eat Like Candy” – they’re so much better than all those non-delicious antacids out there. But can this be a good thing? After all, some people eat candy pretty fast. I don’t know how comforting and soothing it would be to bolt them down like Rolos or M&Ms, do you?
Mind you that guy does look pretty well medicated. I wonder how many he had, and what was in them? Do you think it ever occurs to him that the pipe-smoking might be contributing to his acid upset? I mean, it isn’t good for you, is it. But clearly he cares not, he is floating on a virtual sea of antacid contentment.
Furthermore the man seems to consist only of a disembodied head and a hand – where’s his stomach got to? Does Tums take away the “acid upset” by – taking the entire stomach away?
But let’s not over-analyze – er, over-alkalize! - the situation.
One final thing – I very much enjoyed seeing that the ad writer used the word “carminative,” which I haven’t seen since reading Aldous Huxley’s novel Crome Yellow, which satirizes various wealthy and/or literary types of the 1920s. The main character is a bad poet named Denis who, not knowing that this word means gassy, decides that it is the most beautiful and poetic word he has ever heard, and wants to use it in a poem thus: “And passion carminative as wine…”
And then he decides to look it up in the dictionary. He is crushed, of course (satire of disillusionment of 1920s youth, etc).
Perhaps a Tums would have cheered him up.

Kitchen Sweetheart

This is from 1951, from Good Housekeeping’s Home Encyclopedia, published in Britain. It’s a huge, heavy book, full of information. Lots to see here. But today, here is the bigamous appliance, a Trianco boiler. These boilers are so good that women want to marry them! How about that. It’s not very tall, and kind of – square-looking – but it really has a certain something. Just ask the checkered-fabric-addicted gal who looks like she just had a couple of gin and tonics (and probably did).

This lady is very excited about the boiler, but insists that her marriage is just fine:
…is hubby worried? Not a bit of it – saves him tons of money on fuel. Am I happy? Yes, I should say so – both my sweethearts are wonderful; and this one keeps the whole house snug and warm at any temperature I choose; is always ready with hot water for my every need, and requires almost no attention whatsoever. In green? Yes, you can get them in a lovely range of colours and sizes…
In fact she prefers the Trianco to the ‘hubby,’ because at least the Trianco keeps things warm and “is always ready with hot water for my every need,” we won’t even go there. And you don’t have to pay attention to it, that can get really aggravating. They aren’t – high maintenance. You know.
Hubby doesn’t really mind, though, he just wants to save that proverbial ton of money. And also to get this maniacally smiling woman off his back. She’s gone all funny since they got the boiler.

Plus hubbies do not come in green, unless they have been eating this lady’s cooking.

Ivory Laundry Starch and Its Relation to the Unconscious

You know you want to cook with corn oil. Do not deny yourself the pleasure of putting corn oil and corn syrup and corn starch into as many recipes as you possibly can. All three at once would be ideal.

May I present the St. Lawrence Starch Company of Port Credit, Ontario, and their promotional cookbook, circa 1955-60 (there is no date but it is a whopping 34th edition – which in itself is a tribute to corn products).

Doesn’t the very name reek of dense white carbohydrates – the St. Lawrence Starch Company! This is the hard stuff, gentlemen – bready, pasty, potato-laden. Sauces thick as all three Stooges. Pie that takes a week to digest. Christmas puddings that double, in the New Year, as door stops.

As you can see from the picture (which is on the back cover) the St. Lawrence people (unwearied by corn) make laundry starch which “also works in the wash.” I thought laundry was wash. Maybe you can wash dishes with it, is what they mean. Dishes sticky with corn oil and corn syrup, no doubt.

In one triumphant recipe entitled “Tangy Spanish Sauce” they have manage to press all three products into service. This is the sauce that has it all: tomatoes, green peppers, onion, celery…and corn oil, corn syrup and corn starch. That’s tangy all right. Depending on your definition of tangy.

And we move through the oil-drenched salads and really heavy doughnuts until ending up on the last page with “Corn Starch Pudding” (blancmange, in other words: classic invalid fare for the fans of Mrs. Beeton and of Louisa May Alcott, who had Jo bring some to Laurie in Little Women when Laurie was not exactly sick, but cranky because of his cranky grandpa).

There’s something Freudian about it all. Trying to sneak in the little references to corn-based products, which build and build through the book to culminate in the catharsis of: oh what the hell, let’s just make it the main ingredient.

At least they never tried to put Ivory laundry starch in any of the recipes. Unless it was somewhere on a subconscious level, signified on the back cover where the bottles and boxes float on a white background, the stuff of dreams.

Or perhaps just the stuff of indigestion. Like when Scrooge thinks that Jacob Marley’s ghost is “an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato.” Actually, he was more like a heaping cup of Tangy Spanish Sauce, that’s what.