Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Kraft Complete Cheese Cookbook

Buongiorno! The Complete Cheese Cookbook: Romance Cheeses From Kraft (1971) claims to be the only cheese reference that any worldly or cultured cheese connoisseur could ever need. One look at some of these scrumptious Velveeta fests should put no doubt in your mind that this is the book you need to track down. Because, let's face it, you'd never have thought of melting cheese product over any of these foods.

(Click images to enlarge)

1. First of all, this reference guide hopes to debunk some of the oft-contested cheese myths. This delightful recounting of a camel ride gone bad is surely how it all happened. Who wouldn't be delighted by it all?

2. A sepia-toned globe offset by a pecan-crusted globe. They took a chunk out of Eastern Europe and spread it on a cracker!

3. A lighter bite - Picnic Sticks

4. This is a classic cheese rabbit. Either that or toast trapped in the middle of a Velveeta war.

5. Mostaccioli - Featuring the rare imported formaggio Velveeta dell'Italia (Tip: Check the rind before buying. If 'Velveeta' is stamped on the side, you know it's authentic!)

6. Chicken Rococo - It doesn't get any fancier than deep-fried Cheese Twinkies

7. Cheddar Beef Rolls - (Dis)comfort food is best served rolled.

8. Just as I was about to post this cookbook, I discovered that the Cheddar Beef Rolls (above) was a popular prototype for variations on a rolled beef theme. Here's an ad for the Miracle Meat Rolls (made with Miracle Whip)!

9. Introducing the Company Steak Rolls from a McCormick/Schilling cookbook. Can you guess what decade this is from?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Swifts' Chicken

Here are the front and back covers of a few little pamphlets about chicken from a company called Swifts Premium. There's no publishing information on them, but I found them tucked together in a cookbook from the mid-1970s. I'm assuming that they're probably from that decade. The chicken photographs look pretty dated, but most feature excellent drawings (or interesting photos) on the back cover. Note how the suggestive titles are probably an attempt at brainwashing. Now, when you begin to unconsciously make chicken for every meal after looking at these, you'll be able to reassure yourself of the tempting, nutritious, and people-pleasing qualities of chicken. It's a favorite with everyone.

1. A variety of enjoyable and taste-tempting recipes in these two pamphlets. Taste-tempting enough to make the kids look eager, but the adults seem to be less chipper. Perhaps no amount of taste-tempting chicken dishes can teach them how to love. I really like how the food from the front cover are then illustrated on the back cover!

2. Cary Grant has Clark Gable over for gourmet Breast of Chicken Curry!

3. Feast On Chicken Anytime - Even hippies like fried chicken!

4. Unfortunately, this last pamphlet abandons the intriguing photos and illustrations. We do get to see whole cut-up frying chicken, though!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Pillsbury Bake-Off (1967)

Pillsbury debuted its Bake-Off competition in 1949. Housewives around the country perfected and submitted their best family recipes. The only requirements seemed to be corny dish names and the inclusion of a Pillsbury product, such as all-purpose flour or prepackaged biscuit dough, which was introduced in the early 1950s. The one hundred best recipes were then published in the yearly cookbook. While these annual collections of prize-winning recipes are pretty indistinguishable from one another, this particular volume (of the ones I've looked through) seems most definitive of its time period -- the late 1960s. Published in 1967, the '18th Annual Bake-Off Cookbook' promotes both the busy modern woman and the homemaking ethic. From its foreword: "The way in which these recipes are prepared has changed just as dramatically as your life as a homemaker has changed from that of your grandmother."

I'm not sure what the top prize was back then, but this year (the 42nd year of competition) it was $1 million! If you're interested in the modern cooking contest culture, there was an interesting article over at Slate on this topic.

(Click on photos to enlarge!)

1. Front cover

2. Scenes of housewifedom

3. Vichyssoise Feather Fans, Ol' Virginny Lemon Tea Cake, Cape Cod Loaf (with oysters!)

4. Corny Islands - looks like dried brains!

5. Peachadillies - won Corniest Name prize

6. Caballero Casserole - This is made with Hormel Tamales and 'cheese sauce mix.'

7. 'Fortune's sausage wheel is ever turning.' Also: Hot Turkey Hustle Up!

8. Fisherman's Luck and Tijuana Hash - Both sound unsettling and possibly illegal.

9. "The Works" Casserole - If the name doesn't send you running, maybe the fact that it looks like something floating in battery acid will!

10. Oriental Shrimp Sandwich Roll - It can sense your fear (and probably see out of that eye)!

11. Bachelor's Bake - made with potato flakes, Spam, and cream cheese!

12. General Electric P7 Self-Cleaning Oven Range in lovely avocado green - Isn't it time you owned an Americana?

EDIT: As a matter of course, I discovered that the winner of the first Pillsbury Bake-Off was Theodora Smafield of Rockford, Illinois. Her winning recipe was the No-knead Water-rising Twists, and the top prize was $50,000, which was surely a lot of money back in the 1940s!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Kool-Aid Comes Of Age

If you remember Fruit Smack, you're probably pretty old, but if Kool-Aid sounds more familiar to you, you may be one of the millions of people who have drunk this tooth-rottingly sweet beverage since 1927. Kool-Aid is a popular 'non-carbonated soft drink' made from a mixture of fruit-flavored powder and water. Like our old friend Jell-O, it is manufactured by General Foods, and it has been since 1953, when Edwin Perkins of Hastings, Nebraska sold his six-flavored (cherry, grape, lemon-lime, orange, raspberry, and strawberry) invention to the corporation. The big question is: when was the Kool-Aid Man, one of the greatest American advertising personalities, introduced to the world? An early prototype of what would become the Kool-Aid Man was introduced within a year of General Foods' gaining ownership of the brand. At first, he was not so much a man as a full pitcher with several designs traced through the condensation. One of those designs, a friendly smiley face, stuck, and that pitcher gradually became the Kool-Aid Man we all know and love today. Oh, yeeah!

Unfortunately, the Kool-Aid Man doesn't figure into this booklet very much. Kool-Aid Comes Of Age, published in 1976, attempted very much a sort of sophistication that isn't normally associated with Kool-Aid. For those of you that think Kool-Aid is just for drinking, you'll be surprised at the wide array of wholesome food items that can be made using this stuff! For those of you that think that Kool-Aid isn't even for drinking, you'll be really shocked!

1. Front cover - various beverages, and is that a cheese ball?

2. Amid punch and a milkshake are two flourescent witches' brews (Easy Sodas)

3. With a Fruit and Nut Cheese Ball and some Sour Cream Dip, you'll have quite a shindig on your hands!

4. Kool-Aid's ghoulish answer to Halloween: Pitcherman Cake. Click here to read what they have to say on Halloween parties.

5. Snowballs, Pastel Cupcakes, Fruit-Flavored Sugar Cookies, Fruit-Flavored Ice Cubes, and a Creepy Doll: all made with Kool-Aid!

Kool-Aid seems to inspire more nostalgia than Jell-O. The amount of lovingly-compiled fan sites is amazing. Here are some insightful links:

Official Kraft Foods Kool-Aid page (more kid-centric than informative)
Kool-Aid at Wikipedia
The biggest Kool-Aid compendium online, the Kool-Aid FAQ
Kool-Aid Packet Photo Archive

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Amazing Magical Jell-O Desserts

In 1977, General Foods published Amazing Magical Jell-O Desserts, a lovely hardcover volume that includes not only '72 gelatin and pudding recipes,' but also magic tricks by Marvello The Great. Marvello is a slightly diabolical magician with a monocle who is credited with fantastic feats featuring gelatin. Clearly, he is far more likable than Jell-O Man.

1. Front cover - Here is Marvello with hovering gelatin desserts

2. A nice portrait of Marvello The Great

3. The Banana Wobbler - my favorite Jell-O item

4. The adorable Sunny Whip

5. The Strawberry Yogurt Poof - Fred's a lucky guy

6. Smilin' Snacks

7. Here is a fanciful example of the illustrations in this book

8. This last picture is from, 1976's The Jell-O Pudding Sampler. This is the glazed banana pie, a banana wobbler in pie form.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Jell-O Kids' Cooking Fun

The Jell-O cookbook of the day is the spiral-bound Jell-O Kids' Cooking Fun, which was only published in 1991. While it doesn't boast especially interesting recipes or kitschy graphics, it does include a strong advertising personality, Jell-O Man (and his canine sidekick, Wobbly). Here's some information about the pair right from the pages of the book: 'Jell-O Man (the children's hero who saves their Jell-O gelatin and pudding from thieves) and his loyal dog Wobbly help explain the steps of each recipe.' He really is a hero of our time.

At first, Jell-O Man really establishes himself as an asset to have around during gelatin and pudding making festivities, but soon his desire to fit in with the titular 'kids' results in behavior that becomes less and less heroic. As well, Jell-O Man dons several costumes along the way, which, technically, would have made this selection better suited before Halloween.

A responsible ...

... and helpful fellow

Today, in this post-Cap'n Jack Sparrow world, he would have just been one counting pirate in a million

As magician.. I mean, illusionist

As El Hombre Jell-O

As Donald Sutherland

Jell-O Man: trying too hard

Unhygienic goofing off

As Morrissey has sung, 'the devil will find work for idle hands to do'

Wh-wh-whoa dude!

As you could probably see from the small selection of edibles in these pictures, the foods were fairly uninspired. This is the most creative of the bunch. It's impressive how successfully personality can be conveyed with just a beard of coconut, licorice whiskers, or what looks like a green bean mouth!

Perhaps thankfully, I have only one more Jell-O book left to post. After that, photos of more solid food will follow!