Getting to the Heart (or Kidney or T-Bone) of the HF&DC

Even Special Collections staff who don’t spend a lot of time with the History of Food & Drink Collection have a favorite item. Many of the library staff and Special Collections visitors do, too. Some of our personal favorites have already appeared on the blog, and we’ll definitely see more of them in the future. We’re attracted to items for different reasons, whether we’re questioning who created a recipe in the first place or copying something down to try at home. This week, we’re sharing an item that fascinates us all.

If you’ve come to a display or event at Special Collections where we had culinary materials, chances are you’ve seen this week’s feature before. It was discovered among some unprocessed materials back in 2007, but it’s been a staff favorite every since. We just hope you’re ready to test your knowledge of meat cuts!

Vegetarians, now would be a good time for you to look away…

(Don’t say I didn’t warn you!)

The Natural Color Meat Identification Kit [flash card]: Complete with Suggestions for Using and Instructor’s Key actually includes 108 different organs and cuts of meat from six different animals. By no means a single purpose tool, it comes with 8 suggested uses for home economics and agriculture students, including games, quizzes, field trip studies, nutrition education, and exhibits. Despite the jokes we make around here, this is one of those rather timeless items in our collections that can still fulfill its initial purpose today. If you need to learn about meat and pictures help you learn, this is the way to go!

Besides Virginia Tech, five other libraries in the U.S. are lucky enough to own copies of this kit. (I’ve also met one visitor to Special Collections who had a set of their own at one time!) We can’t be certain about the year the produced, though one catalog record does suggest it was some time in the 1960s.

You may have noticed that while we posted a number of pictures of cards (with the corresponding number), we haven’t supplied the key. The reverse side of each card has the number, but the list of cuts and organs are on two separate cards. If we put those in the gallery, it would take all the fun out of kit! While some may be obvious, others may not. The answers, along with the full list of items, will appear on the blog early next week.

In the meantime, we encourage you to hazard a guess or two in the comments below…

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2 thoughts on “Getting to the Heart (or Kidney or T-Bone) of the HF&DC

  1. Pingback: Getting to the Heart (or Kidney or T-Bone) of the HF&DC, Part 2 | What's Cookin' @ Special Collections?!

  2. A couple of days ago (November 2015) I came upon a complete Meat Identification Kit at a roadside estate sale in Bodega Bay, California, in nearly perfect condition. It made me laugh. The idea at first seemed absurd. Naturally, I bought it. I don’t know what I’ll do with it, but I love it for its simple earnestness. Who knows, I might even learn something. Already it’s got me looking more closely at cuts in the meat department at my local supermarket.

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