Jack Frost in the Kitchen

With the holidays just around the corner, fall and winter baking season is here! (It’s baking season almost year round if you’re me, but this time of year can be especially popular.) And, in the past, we’ve talked a fair bit about flour and baking powder on the blog, but we haven’t said much about another staple: sugar!

This 1930-ish pamphlet belongs to the large family of advertising publications and icons in our collection. Eighteen Unusual Recipes has a center image, so each page has a half moon cut out, allowing Jack Frost and a few of his products to shine through. He’s framed by recipes that may not all seem that unusual. We have things like cakes and dessert loaves, and “Sea Wave Candy” (which may sound a bit strange, but isn’t really, when you see the ingredients). For the time, we might consider “Spanish Marmalade” and “Chutney Sauce” to be a bit out there. Perhaps more importantly, though, is convincing people to buy the right product. And, with as diverse a set of sugar products as the company made, they were certainly targeting a wide market. (I particularly like the little individually wrapped sugar tablets in the center of the back page.)

The National Sugar Refining Company of New Jersey isn’t called that anymore. It has long since become part of a larger company. But you might still see Jack Frost on a package or two, depending on where you live, continuing to bring you granulated sugar for all your goodies!


We haven’t featured a cocktail item in a while, and, since we have another quirky piece of ephemera we found over the summer, it seems like time to share! Meet the “Mixed Drink Recipe Guide” from Tel-O-Drink Co. in 1948:

If you’re a regular reader, you may recall, back in the day a post we did on a Prohibition-era sliding drink card. This item is in the same family of cocktail gadgets, albeit with a shorter menu. The drink recipe on the outside edge lines up with a recipe and a picture of the appropriate glass for serving. It is double sided and includes recipes for 24 drinks, most of which could be considered mid-20th century classics, from the gin martini to the single serving Planter’s Punch.

This particular item is also stamped with an advertisement for a store in Jamaica, NY. When to comes to culinary history, creative advertising always seems to be, well, creative. Why hand out a booklet full of recipes when you can find a more interactive way to mix and pour? I can drink to that!

And don’t forget! Special Collections staff will be on hand at the Presidential Installation at Virginia Tech (http://www.president.vt.edu/installation/experience-virginia-tech.html), so if you’re coming to the showcase on Saturday morning, be sure to stop by and visit with us! We’ll be sharing items from the History of Food and Drink Collection and enjoying the opportunity to talk with the community!


Upcoming Event on Campus: October 18th

Later this week, from October 16-18, Virginia Tech will be celebrating the installation of our 16th President, Timothy Sands. There will be a wide variety of events taking place around campus, all of which you can read about online: http://www.president.vt.edu/installation/index.html. This is exciting in and of itself, but I’m very proud to say that Special Collections has been invited to participate, too! On Saturday morning from 9am-12pm at the Inn at Virginia Tech, there’s going to be a showcase called “Experience Virginia Tech: Learn, Explore, Engage” (the schedule is online:http://www.president.vt.edu/installation/experience-virginia-tech.html). The showcase will include three-hour event featuring panel discussions, presentations, hands-on demonstrations, and talks by Virginia Tech’s master teachers. The event includes a series of “Living on Earth” displays: ” Water, Water, Everywhere,” “Food, Glorious Food,” and “Energy, Efficient and Sustainable,” so your usual archivist/blogger Kira will be there with materials from the History of Food and Drink Collection! If you’re in the Blacksburg area, I would encourage you to come out to any or all of the events. And if you attend the showcase, be sure to seek us out (I don’t know where within the Inn until the day of, so just keep your eyes peeled)! We’ll have some original books and manuscripts, a digital display of images, the opportunity to interact with the blog, and an archivist or two on hand to talk about the collection and department!

Beyond English Language Books

While the majority of materials in the History of Food and Drink Collection are in English, that’s not the rule. Over time, we’ve acquired a handful or two of items (mostly books, but at least one manuscript cookbook, too) in other languages. More recently, this is included a two German, two Spanish, and one French cocktail manuals. But that wasn’t where it started. As it turns out, you can find publications on culinary topics in a variety of languages. Today, we’re featuring Die Österreichisches Hausfrau: Ein Handbuch für Frauen und Mädchen aller Stände; Praktische Anleitung fur Führung der Hauswirtschaft by Anna Bauer. Published in Vienna in 1892, this household management guide isn’t all that different from the same kinds of books you would find in America at the time. (And yes, you’re all being subjected to a German language book because that’s the European language your usual archivist/blogger, Kira, can read best…)

In English, we might call Die Österreichisches Hausfrau: Ein Handbuch für Frauen und Mädchen aller Stände; Praktische Anleitung fur Führung der Hauswirtschaft something like “The Austrian Housewife: A Handbook for Women and Girls of all (Social) Classes; Practical Instruction for Managers of Domestic Economy (or Home Economics),” if we translated it close to literally. But really, we could just call it “How to be an Austrian Housewife in 1892.”

Like the majority of household management guides from the period, there aren’t many (or, in this case, ANY) colors and only one image–that of a proper account book to be kept by the household manager. Of course, with this book, there’s the added challenge of a Fraktur (gothic) font. And, like English language books from the period, this is one jam-packed (pun intended) guide for women. It contains a general introduction and sections on: organizing and cleaning rooms/spaces; handling and preserving meat; preparation and storage of sausages (an entire CHAPTER on that subject); storage of vegetables and fruits; drying fruits; storing of juicy fruits in pickles, wines, and mustard; preserving fruits with sugar; serving meals and carving; caring for and feeding the sick; hygiene; childcare; gardening; and the management of livestock, including dairy products. All crammed into 410 pages!

You can’t find this title online, so if you’re curious, you’ll have to pay us a visit. You’ll find more than few foreign language titles on our shelves relating to a variety of subjects, so feel free to drop by!

Tschüß bis nächste Woche! (Bye until next week!)

National Apple Month is Here!

October is here and so is National Apple Month! I know, I usually post about apples every fall, but it’s so EASY! We have a long list of apple-related materials here in Special Collections! Last spring, the library hosted its second “Appalanche!” event, a celebration of Appalachian culture. As part of that evening, Special Collections had a display of publications and photographs all about apples. It included a digital display of scanned photographs, images, and more. So, to celebrate the apple this October, here are the images we shared that night…

The Bee’s Knees (Well, Combs, Actually)

Happy National Pancake Day! That’s a sidebar, since the focus of the blog today isn’t actually pancakes. What we’re talking about, however, could go in (or on!) your pancakes. September is also National Honey Month, so this post is all sweet, golden goodness.

This week, our feature is Gems of Gold with Honey, published by the California  Honey Advisory Board. It includes a wide range of recipes for incorporating honey into classic recipes, as well as some dishes you might not consider. Even though it’s only 35 pages, you’ll find recipes for meat, poultry, veggies, salads, breads, drinks, desserts, cakes, pies, cookies, candies, jellies, and even relishes. So whether you want to cram honey into every element of a dish, or just use it sparingly, Gems of Gold with Honey has got you covered!

September is also National Biscuit Month, National Bourbon Heritage Month,  National Breakfast Month, National California Wine Month, National Chicken Month, National Mushroom Month, National Papaya Month, National Potato Month, AND National Rice Month, several of which make a wonderful compliment to honey. So, you’ve got a few days left to celebrate the end of September and the start of autumn with some sweet dishes. Also, if you think September has a lot to celebrate, wait until we get to October!

The History of Dining (and Eating) at Virginia Tech

This week, we’re featuring one of the few more recent publications from our collection. One, it’s a really neat book. And two, it has a section on tailgating. I’ve spent my fair share of time staying away from campus during a home game, but if you’re a part of the Blacksburg community, some things are inevitable. Whether you love or hate football season, it does mean food. Nor is it the only food history our town has to offer. A Taste of Virginia Tech is the work of two alumnae, published in 2012.

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This book is about a lot more than tailgating, however. It covers some of the recent history of dining on campus, the farmer’s market, and PLENTY of recipes from local restaurant and local people. Sure, this is a recent book, but it’s an important piece of VT history, too. It’s also a great reminder of the way food insinuates its way into our daily life and culture. It doesn’t matter if you’ve lived here all your life, spent your college days here, or only show up for games. Whether it’s wings and dip at a tailgate, fish tacos on the patio at Cabo, or a burger at Mike’s, we all have our favorite spots and foods in Blacksburg.

P.S. The library copy is checked out, so if you’d like to scout the recipes, you might just need to drop by and see us. :)

And You Thought Straws Were Just For Drinking!

How to Make Parties and Gifts Sparkle with Glassip Transparent Drinking Straws

Once in a while, food related products aren’t just for food (or in this case, drinks). We recently acquired this little gem full of craft projects you can do with a box full of drinking straws. And while the options aren’t endless, they are certainly…festive.

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How to Make Parties and Gifts Sparkle with Glassip Transparent Drinking Straws does include a few drink recipes at the start. But the majority of this pamphlet is devoted to some–let’s call them “creative”–opportunities to think outside the box and cellophane wrapper. In addition to pompoms, pumpkins, and parasols, you can also make things that don’t begin with the letter “p.” There are the strange stick figures in the slide show, but how about Easter bunnies, Valentine’s heart, Christmas trees and stars, and an pair of Mardi Gras dolls? Not enough? You can create boutonnieres, faux potted plants, little baskets, and even placements. Although the booklet is published in two-tone color, from the content, it seems that “Glassips” came in a variety of colors and even some striped designs. (If you’re curious, try a Google image search for “glassips straws”–there are lots of pictures of the straws in vintage packages.)

This is another one of those unique items in our collection that makes you wonder “why?” At the same time, the techniques are timeless. So if you have a box of straws and a few minutes this weekend, How to Make Parties and Gifts Sparkle with Glassip Transparent Drinking Straws has a project or two for you.

Cowboys and Cure-alls?

Not long ago, we acquired this publication. At 49 pages, it’s not really a pamphlet anymore. While it is primarily at advertisement for a patent medicine/cure-all, we also learn some interest facts about production and the creator of Com-Cel-Sar, Charlie White-Moon. (Although on at least one page, his name is also spelled “Charley.”)

The majority of the publication is testimonials–and LOTS of them. From individual users and family members, young and old, male and female. Everyone seems to benefit from this product! We’ve looked at patent medicines before on the blog, but there is something that stands out about “Com-Cel-Sar” (well, one of many things, really). There’s a full list of ingredients and why they are included on the second page. Even more interesting, we’re given this explanation: “The components of COM-CEL-SAR, as published on every package, do not only more than comply with the PURE FOOD LAW, but are for self-protection, all being Copy-Righted, hence protected by the United State Government.” The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, among other things, required that active ingredients be placed on the label of a drug’s packaging. But you don’t often see patent medicine creators and suppliers complying so eagerly and/or pointing out their compliance. 

Our publication dates from 1912. Based on newspaper advertisements, however, Com-Cel-Sar was produced at least as early as 1903 and at least as late as 1916. The market was very localized in specific areas of Kentucky and Indiana (Charlie White-Moon’s headquarters were in Louisville). Nearly all the testimonials come from Louisville, Kentucky, and New Albany, Indiana (just across the Kentucky River), where it was heavily advertised and promoted.

On a side note, some of our department did have a conversation about the cover page when this item first arrived. What caught our attention wasn’t the picture or the title, but the small phrase in the bottom right: “Written for Human Beings Only.” We couldn’t come to a consensus about why one might label a publication that way, but it’s a good reminder of what makes working in Special Collections so much fun. Every day there’s a new surprise!

And, of course, I get to share some of those discoveries with you!

Meal Prep, Service, and…Design?

A title like How to Prepare and Serve a Meal: Interior Decoration had to catch our attention. After all, it’s food history related. But, in case you didn’t know, we are also the home to the International Archive of Women in Architecture. This group of manuscript collections and publications helps to document a field that wasn’t widely open to women until the last 40 years or so. You can read more about it here: http://spec.lib.vt.edu/iawa/. That being said, you can imagine how a book that combines these two areas might be of some interest to Special Collections. Written by Lillian B. Lansdown around 1922, this a household guide on two related subjects.

What’s interesting is that this publication almost feels like two books. There isn’t a real transition from the topic of meal planning to interior decoration, just the start of a new chapter. The decoration section is significantly smaller, and one wonders if it was sort of tacked on (perhaps it was too short a section to stand on its own?). It is cataloged as a culinary item, as opposed to a design one.

At the same time, this combination makes perfect sense for the time period. Both the kitchen and the home (management, order, and design) were considered part of the woman’s domestic sphere. I would guess we have more manuals like this on our shelves (and I know some of the large household management guides cover these and other topics), so I’ll be keeping an eye out for similar pieces in the future. They’re chock full of little lessons.

Happy meal planning and home decorating! Just remember: For afternoon teas, never use paper doilies (unless you have more than 100 visiting); Broken lines aren’t shouldn’t be part of permanent fixtures in a room; and drinking liquors in 1922 wasn’t illegal (so long as you found a way to legally obtain it…)

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