Things have sure changed. At one time, 'Spry' meant flaky biscuits, moist cakes, and other highly digestible foods were on their way to the table. These days, the word 'spry' has more to do with computers, xylitol, and retirement plans than any kind of triple-creamed goodness. Spry has long been vanquished by the leading vegetable shortening, Crisco. Crisco might be the better product, but it has never matched the enthusiasm and charm of Spry's rich collection of promotional material.
I first discovered the brilliance of the Spry cookbook series in James Lileks' masterpiece, The Gallery of Regrettable Food. In it, he reintroduces a new generation to the quaint Aunt Jenny and her Mayberryesque life. Sure, it's hard not to laugh a little at Aunt Jenny's earnestness, but, in the end, she leaves you with a feeling of comfort and assurance. Well, you can imagine my excitement when I recently acquired my very own Spry cookbook. I've scanned in some of the very best parts from this book, dating from 1942, for your viewing enjoyment.
Thank you to my sister for use of this fantastic cookbook!
1. Front cover - Meet Aunt Jenny and her adoring protégé.
2. Table of contents and introduction - Great read if you're interested in rationing and the U.S. home front during WWII. The far right column has a special message from Aunt Jenny. Note the just-folks language that is her trademark.
3. Jenny demonstrates the 2-crust pie. The end result is this Lemon Meringue.
4. Mrs. Mabel Bowen vouches for the Spry Pastry Mix.
5. 'Desserts are the crownin' touch of the meal -- and here are some pippins...'
6. A young Deanna Durbin look-alike reassures beginning bakers.
7. 'Now we can afford to have cake offener'!
8. All that can be said about these baked goods is that they probably were thrifty, reliable, and easy to make.
9. It's an EXTRA delicious cake extravaganza!
10. You can even use Spry to prepare savory dishes! As Aunt Jenny explains, 'These temptin' meals stick to your ribs, folks. An' what a cinch they are to make.' Lan' sakes, indeed!
11. Digestible fried foods, like these salmon croquettes, are easy to make.. the Spry way!
12. Just listen to this! - More fried foods that are guaranteed digestible!
13. How to Save Your Spry For Another Frying.
14. All the service men come together for Canteen Cookie Bars.
15. Back cover - Spry packaging, circa 1942.
Read a bit about Aunt Jenny over at Wikipedia. You can find out more about Jenny's other hobby, the radio show Aunt Jenny's Real Life Stories, at Old-Time Radio.