Knox in 1960: “On-Camera Recipes”

In an attempt to restrain myself, some of you may have noticed a more than two month drought on gelatin postings. Good news: the drought is over! The desire to share the edible, the inedible and the “wha–?” has resurfaced…along with Knox On-Camera Recipes from 1960.

(Regular readers may notice the absence of a table of contents. Generally, I include those whenever possible, to provide an overview of a publication. In this case, it would spoil the surprise, as would a gallery. You’ll have to read through this one!)

The first logical question may be: “Why On-Camera Recipes?” Thankfully, Knox Gelatine, Inc. answers this question on the first page:

Because every recipe here was continuously photographed as it was carried out…they were all “on-camera,” just like the recipes that you see demonstrated on television.

The idea was to make the recipes easy to follow, since each set of text directions is accompanied by black and white images. Of course, when I was asking “Why?” I was curious why you should show anyone some of these recipes. Why you would demonstrate them implies there was good reason to share them. Still, we ought to give them a few moments contemplation before dismissing this collection of gems.

The obvious benefit to gelatinous canapes? No crumbs on the carpet if your guests are wandering and mingling while they’re eating. The eggs and other potential fillings are trapped inside. Any other benefits seem elusive at the moment. Also, what does one do with the part of the jellied broth the round shapes were cut from?

As for the Cranberry Souffle Salad? Points for creativity. And color. So much color…

When it comes to main dish molds, the options are equally interesting. Tuna too bland? Make it into layers! Bored with traditional shapes? Turn your chicken into a dome!  Tired of eating corned beef and cabbage separately? Just add gelatine!

In addition to the desserts above, there are a number of pie recipes, whips, cakes, and creams. The publication even has marshmallow, sherbet, and candy directions. Since most of the recipes rely on unflavored gelatine, there is an absence of the usual layered, fruit-filled towers and rings. Ring molds jammed packed with vegetables, yes, but I guess fruit doesn’t have the moxy to stand up to those unflavored granules.

Knox On-Camera Recipes leaves us with a little something extra, too. Thinking outside the box (pun fully intended), we’re given alternative uses for Knox, especially for the ladies: strengthening your fingernails and slimming your waistline. And honestly, who could ask for more from a few grains dissolved in your favorite drink?

Before we part ways this week, a short history lesson: Charles Knox and his wife, Rose, launched the Charles B. Knox Gelatin Company in Johnstown, NY, around 1896. It was Rose’s recipes and inspiration that prompted Knox, after watching her make gelatine at home. The small pamphlets and cookbooks Rose would go on to write had no small influence on sales and the future of gelatine recipes. Following Charles’ death in 1908, Rose took over management the business, the plant, and all its associated responsibilities. She was an effective and forward-thinking businesswoman, despite the hesitations of the era (check out for a brief biography), and a philanthropist. Eventually, Charles B. Knox Gelatin Company became Knox Gelatine, Inc. It was larger bought out by Kraft, Inc. There’s a history of the brand here:

In spite of my teasing, publications like this one offer a wonderful, colorful, sometimes-wobbly picture of entertaining in the modern era. The distinctive colors, shapes of molds, and creative twists on contemporary foods. The television-demonstration nature of Knox On-Camera Recipes hints at the advertising history history of the period, while appealing to our desire to be part of the entertainment experience.

And just in case one “on-camera” book isn’t enough, come visit us. We have the 1963 edition, too!

2 thoughts on “Knox in 1960: “On-Camera Recipes”

  1. Pingback: A Gelatin By Any Other Name… | What's Cookin' @ Special Collections?!

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