Need a New Years’ Eve/Day Candy Rush?

Happy (almost) New Year! Special Collections is still closed, but we don’t want to leave you recipe-less or uninspired on the cusp of 2016. If you need some last minute candies for guests or a sugar rush for yourself, this week’s feature will help! It’s Plain Rules for Candy Making, published in 1922. It’s not a book or even a pamphlet. Rather, it’s a double-sided card. We’ve seen some similar items before in the Cocktail History Collection, but this is the first candy-based one we’ve acquired.

For the most part, Plain Rules for Candy Making  speaks for itself. Also, while your usual archivist/blogger Kira planned ahead and wrote this back on December 16, it’s the holiday season and there are more important (but only slightly more fun ;)) things to do than read a long blog post. However, before we part ways until 2016, there are a few points worth making. First, this sliding recipe card comes from Livermore & Knight Co., no strangers to the History of Food and Drink Collection. They published the set of tiny cookbooks you may have read about on the blog before in “A Tiny Post on Some Tiny Books” and “From Tiny Books to Chunky Books.” Apparently, quirky and unique methods of sharing recipes was there thing. Second, it’s a good reminder that there are connections to be made through the collection and not always in obvious ways. We have a variety of books it the collection that don’t contain related content, but are connected by other elements like publisher, which makes them an interesting study for other reasons (did a publisher produce books that all looked a certain way? focused on a certain theme/ingredient? contain a shared element?). Perhaps we’ll take some of that up…next year.

Happy New Year (and be sure to join us for a whole new year of feature items in 2016)!



Holiday Entertaining, Part 0.5 of 2.5: Trivia Time Answers!

Have you finished yet? Or are you holding on to test your mettle against family and friends? If you are in the latter scenario, you’ll want to stop reading here, at least for now. (And if you have no idea what any of that means, check out the previous post from Monday.) Go on, we’ll wait…

Last chance to not look. 😉

Mental Cocktails, 1933. Answers to Test #2.
Mental Cocktails, 1933. Answers to Test #2.


Mental Cocktails, 1933. Answers to Test #6.
Mental Cocktails, 1933. Answers to Test #6.

Here’s hoping you all got a perfect score!

And more importantly, we here at Special Collections hope you have had wonderful holidays you may have already celebrated wonderful holidays just ahead! The university, which, of course, includes the libraries and Special Collections, will be closed for about nine days starting on Thursday. But, just in case you can’t go without your History of Food and Drink Collection fix, there will still be a feature post next week! It’s all written and scheduled to go out. No card games or trivia, but it *might* contain a few recipes for some sweet treats to share on New Years’ Eve….

Holiday Entertaining, Part 2 of 2.5: Trivia Time!

Maybe card games aren’t your thing. Maybe you thought you had a handle on entertainment. Or maybe you just have unexpected company. Whatever the case, Part 2 of our holiday entertaining series is here to help. This week, it’s trivia. Well, our feature publication calls them “tests,” but Mental Cocktails, published in 1933, is really sets of trivia questions.

Mental Cocktails, 1933
Mental Cocktails, 1933


Mental Cocktails contains 6 different trivia tests. The first is allotted 10 minutes, the other five allotted 20 minutes. The first one is a bit of a warm up, but I know our readers are quite capable, so I’ve skipped over it. As you may have noticed, the pages above includes two of the tests, but no answers. You may also recall that last week, I mentioned this was a 2.5 part series. There’s no fun in my giving you the answers up front! With the holiday this week and the library closing on Thursday for the next nine days, this post is going up earlier in the week than usual, on Monday, with good reason. The pages with the answers to both of the tests above (aka Part .5) will come out in a post on Wednesday. Think of it this way: you have WAY more than 20 minutes to solve the trivia, but you don’t have to be as generous with your guests. We’ll keep that between us. 🙂

On a side note, the book says that this is the first series and more volumes were expected. Our copy of this book is the only one I found cataloged in public or academic library hands and I wasn’t able to locate any additional volumes in the series. Part of that could stem from the lack of publisher and publication location information, but it leaves us with the trivia question that isn’t answered in the back: Were there more Mental Cocktails or not?!?


Holiday Entertaining, Part 1 of 2.5: Card Games

The holiday season is in full swing and I thought it might be a good idea to talk about entertaining. Many of us will be hosting guests or be hosted by someone else and there can  With part of my family, we usually hit a point where some sort of game comes out. When I was younger, I remember learning lots of card games, most of which I couldn’t tell you the rules to now. In the last few years, it’s been word games: Scrabble, Bananagrams, and, for a short time, Master Boggle. (I say “for a short time” on that last one, since after a few rounds with your favorite culinary blogger who happens to have an English/Literature background, some family members won’t play with me anymore.) But that’s neither here nor there. 🙂 If YOU are entertaining, or looking to be entertained in the next few weeks, I’ve got a 2.5 part series of blog posts for you! This week, it’s How to Entertain with Cards!

How to Entertain with Cards, 1921
How to Entertain with Cards, 1921

This lovely little booklet covers card parties for formal clubs, special events, and the everyday. There is information on creating and managing a club, foods to serve, game to play, and even how to send invitations. Everything a person could need to keep the guests busy!

How to Entertain with Cards, 1921. Table of contents.
How to Entertain with Cards, 1921. Table of contents, page 1.
How to Entertain with Cards, 1921. December parties.
How to Entertain with Cards, 1921. December parties.
How to Entertain with Cards, 1921. January parties.
How to Entertain with Cards, 1921. January parties.

With 43 pages of information, there is plenty of be learned and put to good use, but for this week, I’ve focused on the relevant details for this time of year. The booklet gets a little more obscure with suggestions for October Nut parties, Rose parties, and Seashore parties. Oh, and in case you haven’t guessed–we certainly talk about advertising and motivation enough on the blog–this booklet was published courtesy of the U. S. Playing Card Company.

This publication, and the one we’ll look at next week (for those really last minute trivia games), are both part of the History Food and Drink Collection AND the Cocktail History Collection. Why? Because the idea of the cocktail party as it evolved in the 20th century was about much more than just a cocktail. It was about drinking, true, but also eating, socializing, and sharing good times. There is a great deal of social history tied to cocktails, dining, and entertaining visitors and How to Entertain with Cards gives us a little insight.

We’re on the Air…and Cooking!

We certainly talk on the blog about how improvements in kitchen technology have changed the way food was (and continues to) prepared, stored, served, and shared. Today, we’re going to look at how another form of technology had an equally interesting effect on cooking and improving one’s culinary skills. Also, there will be talk of Jell-O (briefly, I promise, but not without good cause). Enter General Foods Cooking School of the Air. Which “air” and which technology, you may ask? Radio!

Before we go too far, though, I should point out that the General Foods Cooking School of the Air series should not to be confused with the Betty Crocker Cooking School of the Air (see the National Women’s History Museum post on Betty Crocker for more on the latter). Same concept, some overlapping years on the radio, but two different companies behind them. (Coincidental titles? I’ll leave that up to you!)

(The images below are all individually captioned, which I haven’t done in a while. To read the full captions, click on the first image to bring up a browse-able gallery!)

General Foods Cooking School of the Air was published for at least 2 years (and probably longer). It’s a set of companion pamphlets to the radio show of the same title, hosted by Frances Lee Barton. Holdings are limited in public/academic libraries, so we’re sure happy to add these to our collection. A little searching revealed five other libraries with some of the pamphlets, but it’s unclear if anyone is lucky enough to have a full run. And, from what I can see, no one has digitized them yet. Ours are on rings with a paper front and back cover, but they could also be ordered with a 3 ring binder for easy organization.

Even with only a limited number, you can get a sense of the range of topics Barton covered: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desserts; holidays; formal and informal lunch and dinner parties; food service; jams, jellies, and butters; and more. Since we just acquired ours, they are about to go for cataloging–which means they aren’t quite available for use in the reading room, but I hope it won’t be long. In the meantime, as you know, we’ve got plenty of other culinary items for you to check out, if you’re thinking of paying us a visit. We’ll be here!

Yes, You Really Can Have MORE Fun at Cocktail Time

If you’re New Year’s Eve festivities are lacking this evening, we offer our last post of 2014: More Fun at Cocktail Time. Published in 1935, it includes drink recipes, party games, magic tricks, and even a few canape recipes.

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Whatever you’re doing to celebrate,

Happy New Year and we’ll see you in 2014!

Parties are for Kids, too!

With the holidays upon us, it’s important not to neglect the kids! So this week, we’re sharing the Children’s Party Book  from 1935. It includes games, decor, recipes, menus, and activities for kids parties. It not only covers major holidays (Valentine’s Day, Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, 4th of July, and New Years), but birthday parties and “just because” events, too.

Surprisingly few of the games are really outdated, though some would need updating. The “States Game,” which requires children to write down the names of all the states may be a bit more challenging in 2013 than in 1935. But many of the word and puzzle games are still the same.

The Childrens’ Party Book  was produced by the A. E. Staley Company, so you will find a few “sponsor” elements to it. There’s an introduction and a post script by company people and  many (but not all) of the recipes are based on Staley products, but the advertising isn’t as invasive as some publications we’ve seen on the blog before. The focus really does seem to be on keeping kids (and adults!) occupied.

Over the next two weeks, Special Collections may be closed, but we won’t leave you without a couple of holiday surprises. Just be sure to enjoy the rest of 2013!

It’s All in Good Form, Isn’t It?

First, a quick update on a previous post, A Tiny Post for Some Tiny Books: We have acquired The Tiny Book on Home Candy Making! It looks much like its counterparts, and we’re still waiting for it to return from cataloging, but we’re very excited. That leaves us with the only the elusive The Tiny Book on Cocktails. We’re keeping our eyes peeled and our fingers crossed that we’ll turn up a copy one of these days.

This week’s feature is one of those strange discoveries that hide on our shelves. I was perusing a slightly different call number range without much luck (I guess I wasn’t inspired by manuals on feeding children this week) when I sidestepped and looked down. (Hint: When shelf browsing, it’s important to look below eye level, not just above it.) I suddenly found myself sitting on the floor where an unlabeled, thin green spine caught my eye. The cover was even more curious.

Front cover, Dinners, Ceremonious and Unceremonious and the Modern Methods of Serving Them, 1890
Front cover, Dinners, Ceremonious and Unceremonious and the Modern Methods of Serving Them, 1890. (The lion adds panache, doesn’t it?)

This turns out to be a somewhat eclectic manual, probably due to the fact that is relatively short and still seeks to cover a lot of topics. The book jumps from types of dinners to invitations, from dress to table habits, and from planning the dinner to arranging the table.

The whole of the book is text heavy, so there are limited number of pages in the post, but it makes for great reading. (If you want to read more, you can check out a copy online: Not sure how to eat an olive that was served on a piece of silverware versus with fingers? Wondering if you should pick up strawberries served without stems or lettuce leaves without dressing? Dinners, Ceremonious and Unceremonious and the Modern Methods of Serving Them can help!

Interestingly, though, this book seems to have at least three audiences–people invited to dinner parties, people hosting them, and wait staff. It integrates tips on creating invitations with directions on how to reply to invitations. Chapters move from table manners (for guests and hosts alike, presumably) to planning the meal with household staff. Parts of the book address said staff more directly in terms of how to “read” the way someone places silverware or when to serve what. While the blog has featured manuals before, very often, they are aimed at one of these groups. It’s uncommon to see one that addresses all three, especially in only 80 pages. Of course, it does leave a few questions unanswered. Reading aloud to a colleague resulted in the question of what one does if one drops food on the table: Do you cover it with a napkin, try to retrieve it, or simply ignore it? Dinners, Ceremonious and Unceremonious and the Modern Methods of Serving Them doesn’t say. Which means I guess I have a new research question in hand for this week…

Frosted Sandwich, Part 3: Son of Frosted Sandwich

As I sat here contemplating a blog post for the week, I had a sudden realization: The blog turned two on September 14 and the day snuck right past me! So,


That being said, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than with some festive, monochromatic (and occasionally polychromatic) party recipes…and the return of the frosted sandwich (It’s been a while, I know)!

Today’s images are from Good Luck Color Scheme Parties. Published in 1931, this 32 page pamphlet features creative recipes in a range of colors and flavors. It covers not only holidays, but also card and occasional parties, all while, of course, promoting John F. Jelke Company products like Good Luck Margarine and Evaporated Milk.

This plain cake is separated by layers of jam. Sad marshmallow clown aside, we needed a (belated) birthday cake image to celebrate the blog.
This plain cake is separated by layers of tasty jam. Sad marshmallow clown aside, we needed a (belated) birthday cake image to celebrate the blog.

So, here’s looking forward to another year of posts and LOTS more learning about the History of Food and Drink Collection! It may just be your year to pay us a visit, too!

“An Ideal Home”: A Scrapbook Guide to Setting Up Roots

Last December, we found a catalog description that intrigued us. When the item arrived, it was better than we imagined. A scrapbook filled with cut out images from newspapers and magazines, depicting everything you might need to get started as a new homemaker.

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This scrapbook, wonderful as it is, reflects one of the challenges for archivists. Sometimes, when we acquire an item or a collection, it’s obvious. We know the who, what, where, why, and when of it. Sometimes we think we know, discover we’re wrong, and find out something new. And other times, we get, well, a scrapbook like this.

As you may notice, the images in the gallery do not indicate anything about identity. Unfortunately, neither do any of the other pages. There’s no name of the compiler, who took the time to find and place the clipped items, no name of the person who came up with the lists and prices, and no name any owner. Without a clue to the creator, we’re left with the other questions of “why?” and “when?” This item may very well have been a gift to a new bride, a scrapbook full of advice about setting up a household for the first time. Alternatively, it may have been a school project, perhaps a home economics assignment for a student. Not all mysteries can be solved, but that doesn’t mean we can’t glean a few interesting facts or lessons from the scrapbook, either (though sadly, you won’t be able to buy a house and fill it for $12,500 today!):

  • Kitchen appliances and items never go out of style. (Well, they might go out of style, but whether it’s avocado green or stainless steel, you still need a refrigerator these days, as well as pots and pans and knives.)
  • Organized closets make it much easier to find things.
  • It never hurts to be over-prepared for the cocktail hour.
  • Plan your menu, especially if you’re having company.

We hope to be posting the whole scrapbook for online viewing in the near future, as we’re experimenting with some new software. (Currently, you can view the finding aid here.) Once it’s all set, we’ll be sure to post an update! Or, come by and see it in person!