Helpful (and Healthful) Hints!

There’s been a big influx of culinary materials lately, which, as always, makes me want to write about everything. However, most of those items are still making their way to the shelves. So, instead I went an a stroll through the “R” call numbers. While most of your traditional cooking and cocktail materials are in the TX section, RJ includes Pediatrics and RM includes Therapeutics/Pharmacology. RJ is usually a good place to start if you’re looking for something non-traditional that relates to children’s nutrition–like this week’s feature!

This is about 1/2 half of the pamphlet, plus a couple of the final pages–it’s the section that deals with caring for infants. The other pages parallel the caring for infants in style, but are full of advice for caring for invalids. The end of pamphlet includes a reproduction of a hand-written product endorsement AND ads for the product that actually sponsored it. Unlike many other product pamphlets we’ve looked at before, this one isn’t laden with ads or not-so-subtle placement. It sneaks up on you at the end, instead, leaving us a final taste (pun intended, of course), of just the product that will help you properly feed both the infants and the sick or aged in your family. It’s a different approach from the “ads on every page/in your face” placement of some pamphlets from the era, but probably just as effective–Ridge’s Food may be the last thing you remember, showing up on the bright pink page, when you put the pamphlet down!

Since this item is particularly fragile, short, and out of copyright, I went ahead and scanned it all this afternoon. I’ve added it to our collection of other culinary-related books online, where you can read it in its entirety: https://digitalsc.lib.vt.edu/items/show/5540.


On a completely unrelated note, I’ve updated a bit of out-of-date content on the informational pages of the blog. I’ve also included links to all the resources guides I currently have posted on the University Libraries pages that can help you locate materials relating to food, drink, & foodways! They are a great place to get started if you’re interested in doing research here at Special Collections!

Preserving the Ephemeral (The Tasty, Odd, Ephemeral)

I seem to have inadvertently turned April into “Food Ephemera Month” on the blog, so why mess with a good thing? We have an entire box of culinary ephemera, another of cocktail ephemera, and we’re starting a collection of agricultural ephemera. You can’t say we don’t have folders to choose from! So, this week, it’s a mini round-up of some small, unique, even quirky pieces of advertising history that have survived well beyond their years and purpose. These are all newer pieces, on their way to being added into the Culinary Ephemera Collection (Ms2013-028)

We’ll start with dessert, because who doesn’t want dessert first!

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This is a 1946 bag from a drumstick ice cream cone (which is still a classic today). (It’s clean, I promise–we’re not inviting bugs into the archives!) The packaging may have changed over time, but the contents are still the same: a cone of vanilla ice cream with chocolate and peanuts. Mmmm!

Next up, a little something Virginia-based!

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…And no, I’m not really sure what “bacon squares” are, but I’m open to the possibilities.

Baby food advertisements are common in the late 19th and early 20th century. They often featured happy-looking babies (shocking!) and testimonials. The front of this 1891 trade card from Mellin’s Food includes a color image. The back is a bit simple, but it does give us a little hint.

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This other baby food ad comes from Wells Richardson & Co. It does have a back side, but before we acquired it, it appears to have been mounted on cardboard or some other heavy paper. When it was removed, most of the paper to which is was glued came with it, so although there’s a great deal of text, the majority of it is obscured. But, that is one happy child in a giant food tin!

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We talk a lot about baking and baking products on the blog, so this small oval advertisement from the Royal Baking Powder Company seems like a fun item to share. It’s only a little over 3 inches in length and contains just a single recipe on the back. How anyone managed to save this without losing it is a mystery!

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Last up is something particularly odd. Although the majority of the ephemera that’s been featured on the blog before is paper-based and 2-D, that isn’t always the case. (We have some great new cocktail ephemera which are really more like artifacts on the horizon!). Some of them have, well, a little something extra, like this item from Town Talk bread.

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Yes, that does say “Lipstick tissues.” Here’s what the inside looks like:

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So every time you blot your lipstick, ladies, think of Town Talk bread!

I should also note that about 3 months ago, we discovered a treasure trove of trade cards in a drawer as we were moving some collections and many are food related! I’m still working through them and figuring out which collections they might join, but at some point in the future, there will be a post about the series with bird illustrations and probably more advertisements featuring angelic images of children. Until then, though, remember: While I’m not advocating for hoarding, sometimes even the things you think aren’t valuable can give you an interesting glimpse into culinary history!

Gerber-licious Toddler Dishes

Next week, your archivist & blogger Kira will be teaching an information session in Special Collections. More specifically, it’s for a class focused on mother, child, and infant nutrition and feeding. While I know we have more than 400 books in the Ann Hertzler Children’s Cookbook and Nutrition Literature Collection, as well as other materials in the History of Food & Drink Collection at large that address these topics, it’s the first time I’ve gone digging for extensive research or instruction purposes. And I’ve discovered some fascinating items. Some stand out for their obvious content, like the 1917 Baby’s Welfare: Proper Care and Feeding or the 1846 The Young Mother: Or Management of Children in Regard to Health. Others are more “recipe” oriented, like the 1950 The Body Building Dishes for Children Cook Book or this week’s feature, the 1956 Recipes for Toddlers.

Sometimes, it’s just pure serendipity that leads one to a…let’s call it “unique” recipe. I picked up Recipes for Toddlers and opened it, completely by chance, to page 9 (above). My eyes zoomed in on “Meat-Milk Shake” (and the next 5 minutes were lost to me horrifying colleagues). Now, while it would be VERY easy to spend a paragraph making fun of a beverage like this, especially one for children, I’m going to resist the temptation and I’ll even do so with as much ease as I would show in avoiding an actual “meat-milk shake.”And for a good reason. Even in the case of recipes we might question in the modern age (or a 17th century recipe for “Snail Water” that might be questioned in the 19th centuries), there is a purpose to the idea of a “meat-milk shake”–a purpose that isn’t solely about Gerber Baby Food selling jars of beef liver or veal flavored strained meat. (Though that most certainly plays a role from a marketing and corporate perspective.)

No, what we’re talking about is nutrition and finding ways to get children and infants–in this case, toddlers–to eat and to preferably eat well. A “Meat-Milk Shake” actually accomplishes two important food groups at once: meat and milk. Which leads us to a diversion in the history of USDA food groups…

In the more recent decades, we might think of the variations on the food pyramid. But before the pyramids, nutrition was a little more circular (think “wheels”). The first wheel released by the USDA in 1943 had 7 food groups, including one for butter and fortified margarine. In 1956, the same year Recipes for Toddlers was published, the USDA released a new chart with the “Basic 4” (milk, meat, vegetable-fruit, and bread-cereal groups–butter was sent packing). In 1980, a new wheel was released that included some old favorite groups and some new ones. It wasn’t until 1992 that the first pyramids appeared, and in 2011, those were replaced with the “myPlate” concept. In a way, we’ve come full circle (pun intended) and we’re back to a round shape, albeit no longer an actual wheel, helping us make dining decisions. (If you’d like to see some visuals, check out this great post from WFSU!) But, back to 1956 as we finish up…

Our revised edition of Recipes for Toddlers was published in 1956, but it first appeared in 1950 (and later in 1959), which puts it square in the era of transition from the 7 group wheel to the 4 group “Basic” square. And our “Meat-Milk Shake,” quite literally, kills two birds with one stone, creating an easy and efficient way to get a toddler to eat protein, dairy, and meat. The malted milk powder, chocolate malt powder, chocolate syrup, or brown sugar may be a bribe in the end,  but it’s fair to say that liver and bacon flavor might just need an extra boost. Of course, not all the recipes in this booklet are as unique, either, but there is definitely a continued emphasis on nutrition. Even the desserts are light on sugar, heavy on fruit, and include substitutions like evaporated milk (for fattier cream).

One of the important points this publications reminds us of is that, especially when considering a historical item, we need also think about it in context. Whether a “Meat-Milk Shake” or a “Jellied Fruit Salad,” Recipes for Toddlers reflects the nutrition hopes and expectations of its time. And it might even teach us a lesson or two with its pages on the significance of mother-toddler meals and starting good habits young.

Advice from an Alcott

No, it’s not a post about literature. Well, not American literature. But it advice literature for mothers! This week our feature item is a mid-19th century manual, The Young Mother, or Management of Children in Regard to Health. This book was first published in 1836, but went through multiple editions, including our, published in 1846. (There were others in 1838 and 1849, at least, and probably more.) Given the time period and the content, its an illustration-free book, so I won’t load you up with lots of pages. Instead, I’m posting a few sample pages.

A couple of notes on this item, however, William Alcott (1798-1859) was a physician, vegetarian, educational reformer, potential abolitionist (while he didn’t write actively in this area, the ideas are there in his other works), and author of books and articles. Incidentally, he was also the second cousin of Amos Bronson Alcott, father of American author Louisa May Alcott.  I know, I know, we’re not here to talk about American literature! If you are interested in that, you can read about that on our other blog, In Special Collections at Virginia Tech (my last two posts, as well as some previous ones, have been on that topic).

There are a number of observations one can make about William Alcott’s manuals (this and others). I choose the word “observations”carefully, since I believe the logical Alcott would approve. While this is a manual for mothers about children, it is also a platform for Alcott, his beliefs, and his apparently extensive education. He tackles child feeding, activities, care, dress, and more, all while challenging the works of other doctors and even philosophers (one of the pages above quotes extensively, then refutes, John Locke). You might (or might not) be surprised by the number of times he refers to Ancient Rome, refers to his theories vegetarianism, or reminders readers how differently he views boys and girls. One thing we can all agree on is that he has a great deal of advice to give.

There are other editions of this title available online, so if you want to read more from the 2nd edition or  3rd edition in 1836, the 3rd edition in 1838, or the 1849 edition, you can find them all online. Our 1846 isn’t online at this point.

The Incredible Shrinking (and Growing) Girl

My French is pretty much non-existent, so apologies in advance for my inevitable translation and synopsis errors in the post that follows. Several years of Latin means I can read words and sometimes correctly interpret sentences, but we’re winging it a bit this week. On the other hand, Les Gourmandises de Charlotte, a children’s story that borders on a fairy-tale, literally stuffed with food (pun-intended), has to be shared!

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First published in the late 19th century, Les Gourmandises de Charlotte went through several editions between 1891 and 1915. We are lucky enough to have an early edition from 1891 (with a slightly fragile binding). This is the story of Charlotte, a little girl who gets a giant cherry-flavored candy egg for Easter, and all the trouble it causes. She develops a taste for sugar and sweets, first losing weight and eventually, in fairy-tale style, actually shrinking in size, as she refuses to eat anything else. She has a series of adventures while tiny (which are really meant as lessons to show Charlotte–and other children/readers–the importance of good eating). She regains her normal size, only to balloon up, facing mockery from other children. In the end, though, she sees the error of her ways and agrees to eating a more balanced diet.

Primarily, materials in the History of Food & Drink Collection, including many books in the Ann Hertzler Children’s Cookbook and Nutrition Collection are cataloged with cookbooks, medicine, nutrition, and other related call numbers. Les Gourmandises de Charlotte is one of the outliers. While there is a clear message about food and nutrition, this is first and foremost a children’s story. As a result, it’s actually cataloged with juvenile literature. It could an easy reader for native French speakers of a young age, and non-native speakers learning French, too. The illustrations help tell the story for even the youngest readers and read-ees.

Of course, it may also give you a craving for a super-sized cherry-flavored candy egg, despite all Charlotte’s troubles. While we can’t help you there, we CAN help you to another serving of culinary book history next week…

The Little Housekeepers

This week, we’re delving back into the Ann Hertzler Children’s Cookbook and Nutrition Collection. The Little Housekeepers and Other Stores, Illustrated, was published in 1886. We purchased it with funds from the Hertzler Endowment in May of this year. And, while it may not seem like it on the surface, this book is definitely at home on our shelves!

We’ve looked at “how-to” cookbooks for children (most often girls) before. This book feels more like a version of a household management guide for little girls, a sort of “junior” version of something like The American Woman’s Home: Or, Principles of Domestic Science… from the 1860s. It uses stories and poems to teach young girls about a variety of domestic activities: cooking, laundry, food shopping, sewing, and raising children. The book also  features a number of color illustrations, as well as many smaller black and white ones, all of which make the tasks in them look somewhat glamorous and exciting.

The idea that books for children can help groom them for expected roles certainly wasn’t new in the 1880s. Etiquette books for people of all ages had been around much longer. And we can still find them today. However, this publication takes a clever path and combines education with amusement, incorporating activities young girls would witness everyday and adding elements of childhood (games, dolls, and other toys). We’ve seen this in other books in the Hertzler Collection, too, and it’s a tactic that would likely worked very well! The Little Housekeepers and Other Stories, in any case, is a great example of the space where children’s literature, cooking, and childhood collide, which is one of many reasons it matters to us.

The Little Housekeeper and Other Stories is in fragile shape, but you’re still welcome to come by and see it. After all, you’ll only find about 10 copies of the 1886 edition in academic/public libraries and even fewer of the c.1900 edition. (Lucky for you, TWO of those libraries are in Virginia!)

 

Children’s Chores…in Song?

This week, I found something unique to share–The Kitchen Garden,: or, Object Lessons in Household Work including Songs, Plays, Exercises, and Games, Illustrating Household Occupations by Emily Huntington (1841-1909). It’s a book for children (mostly girls) designed to teach the proper steps for household chores. The book is broken down into six “lessons,” but it also includes additional songs and even a program for public performances of the songs and skits. Each lesson includes a recitation, at least one song, and illustrations.

 

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Emily Huntington authored a number of other titles like The Kitchen Garden, which is the only one of her works in our collection. If you look at the other titles, though, there was a clearly a theme to her books:

  • Kitchen-Garden System of Cookery
  • The Cooking Garden: A Systemized Course of Cooking for Pupils of All Ages, including Plan of Work, Bills of Fare, Songs, and Letters of Information
  • Children’s Kitchen-Garden Book
  • Children’s Kitchen-Garden Book, Adapted from the Original, with Additional Songs
  • How to Teach Kitchen Garden: or, Object Lessons in Household Work including Songs, Plays, Exercises, and Games, Illustrating Household Occupations

Although we certainly have books that are meant to teach lessons to children, this is probably the only one in our collection that does so in this particular way. It seems a good way to reach children. Of course, kids don’t do the same chores in the same way they did in 1890. I guess that must mean it’s time for some new songs!