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.

All spoons are not equal…

In writing receipts, it is impossible to give in each, every detail; it must therefore be understood that ‘a spoonful,’ whether table, dessert, tea, or saltspoon, be used, means a spoon of the ordinary size for kitchen use…If these remarks be remembered, no difficulty can arise, as in all cases where detail is necessary, it is given in the receipt.

-Cre-Fydd’s Family Fare, 1864

Feeding en masse, 50 at a time!

2016 is off to a start and next week, our students return for the spring semester. Campus will be filling up with busy, hungry students. And there are a lot of them to feed. Of course the History of Food & Drink Collection has some advice on this topic! This week, we’re featuring Food for Fifty, a 1937 book with recipes for feeding groups of people. (Now, if we just multiply that by 142,200, we’ll reach the number of meals served by Dining Services on campus each year…)

As you may notice, it’s not just recipes. The book includes several pages of dictionary terms for cooking and foods, pages of cookery terms, a menu planning chapter, sections on how to best prepare ingredients, and some illustrations and photographs. However, there are plenty of recipes for every food group, too.

Food for Fifty was published and re-published with multiple editions: a 2nd edition in 1941 (in our collection), a 3rd edition in 1950 (in our collection) and a 5th edition in 1971. [I wasn’t able to find a date for the 4th edition.] It appears that, after a long absence, the book was adapted by new authors, and our collection also includes 3 editions of this version: 9th (1993), 10th (1997), and 11th (2001). Feeding crowds, whether in institutional settings or in more informal ones, has long been a trend in food history, and Food for Fifty isn’t our only example. If you check out the catalog record for the 1937 edition, you’ll see a subject heading “quantity cooking.” If you follow the subject heading down the rabbit hole, you’ll find we have 127 books in the libraries (25 of which reside in Special Collections) with that heading and more titles with similar or related headings. Some are aimed at specific types of quantity cooking, like for schools, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, community kitchens, or military. Others target a specific ingredient/set of ingredients like meat or baked goods, or focus on quantity cooking that’s cost-effective or for-profit in nature. In other words, there’s more than one reason and way to write a recipe book for quantity cooking.

So, whether you’re looking to fry frog legs for 50 or supply cake for 100 in your boarding house, keep in mind that Special Collections might just be the resource for you–and not just historically speaking. Some of the earlier publications may seem out of date in some ways (boarding houses are certainly less common in 2015 than in 1915), but that doesn’t mean we don’t all still want a slab of apple cobbler at our next family reunion. :)

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)!

 

Forty Famous Cocktails: A Recipe Card with a Twist

This week’s feature is a cocktail item that we acquired back in 2013. About that time, I planned to write a post about it, but first I was waiting for it to come back from cataloging. Then I cam across it again, but I had written a recent post about another cocktail item, so the timing was wrong again. Two weeks ago, I pulled it from the shelves to display at an event in Special Collections and was reminded it was tucked away. Somehow, this week, the timing felt right. I’m happy to present Forty Famous Cocktails, probably published in the 1930s, either during Prohibition, or shortly after the ban was lifted.

As you can tell, Forty Famous Cocktails isn’t a traditional publication. It’s not a book (though it is in our catalog) and it’s not exactly a piece of ephemera that belongs Cocktail Ephemera Collection (which I hadn’t started building just yet). Rather, it’s a two-sided sleeve within a two-sided card. The outside sleeve features some outlandish caricatures with strategic spaces. (You can click on the any of the images above for a closer look.) In two the images above, when the inner card is flush,  you’ll see phrases, images, bottle labels, and even eyes on the bartender, depending on which side you’re viewing. In the other two images above, you get a better sense of how the card is actually used. As you pull the inner card up, you can see a drink name appear under the word “Orders” on each side. Moving across card, appearing on bottles and in paintings, you can see the ingredients and the instructions for the drink.

Historic cocktail books are great and I love all of the ones in our collection. Seriously, you can’t ever ask me to pick a favorite–you either get a different answer every time, or just a strange look while I’m unable to make a decision. However, I think cocktail ephemera and interactive items like this one, which often times weren’t designed to live long lives (you can see some damage at the top of our card!), are equally important to cocktail and social history, too.  (Note the directions for the Harvard state “Shake well and down with Yale.”) They can offer comedic or practical insight into the view of alcohol at a given era and a sense of what was popular. While Forty Famous Cocktails does contain recipes for still-popular drinks like the Whiskey Sour or Side Car, it also includes drinks rare (if ever) heard of today. When we bought this item in 2013, it was the first time I’d seen a reference to the Nassau Beach or the Serpent’s Tooth (I have seen recipes for the latter since, dating from roughly the same time period, but still not the former).

Our copy measures 29 x 19 cm, but there was another “edition,” for lack of better word, that was produced at about half the size, so I know there are other ones out there. However, scans can’t do this item justice, so if you’d like to see more, you may need to pay us a visit. We’ll be here and while we can’t promise you a friendly bartender with a cool cocktail waiting, we can promise you some friendly archivists, some cool cocktail history, and maybe even a little mixology advice.

 

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!

Six Little Cooks: Narrative, Recipes, and Culinary Instruction

This week, we’re looking at another instruction manual for cooks. This one, though, isn’t for adults–it’s for children. And while we have shelves of children’s cookbooks, each filled with recipes and directions, this one is a little different. It has elements of storytelling, a frame narrative that runs through each of the 14 chapters. Our edition of Six Little Cooks comes from 1891, but it was first published in 1887. Elizabeth Kirkland’s book tells the story of Grace, whose aunt and cousin come to visit. Grace, inspired by a story book, asks her aunt to teach her, her sister, her cousins, and her friends to cook. The 14 chapters cover the 14 days Aunt Jane spends teaching the girls recipes and etiquette for different meals, occasions, and events.

The recipes are usually grouped in the middle of each chapter, numbered and labeled, surrounded by the plot and often information about how to properly prepare, serve, or clean up from the particular focus of the lesson. Unlike many children’s cookbooks and like many manuals for housewives of the period, there are no illustrations. The book is written in simple language that the intended audience of young girls would understand, and it seems clear they are meant to learn by reading and practicing, rather than being provided pictures or images of “how to” (though the story IS entertaining). That being said, it does seem like a more effective way to spread the message of culinary instruction. It gives young readers something they can relate to, while hopefully making it fun to learn–which is a lesson we can still use today!

If you’d like to read more, you can always visit us. Or, you can check out a digital copy of the 1891 edition on the Internet Archive’s website.

What’s in the (Sugar) Bag?

This week, I thought we’d take a look at a “shaped” publication. (Also, I have plans to recreate an 1827 “Layfayette Gingerbread” recipe this weekend and I have sugar and molasses on the brain.) As we know from the wide array advertising materials we’ve looked at before, companies have all kinds of quirky strategies for attracting consumer attention. This booklet from W. J. McCahan Sugar Refining & Molasses Co. took a novel approach: they shaped the publication like a bag of sugar.

 

“McCahan’s Sunny Cane Sugar” was published in 1937, but as you can see from one of the images above, this was far from the first edition. The 88 pages are packed with information on the history of sugar, types of sugar produced by the company, recipes, and kitchen/cooking tips. The recipes primarily provide instruction for desserts (not surprising), but there are also sections for meat and vegetables. Because of course you’ll want to get sugar into every dish of your meal!

We have a couple other pamphlets from a different sugar company that are shaped like sugar bags (these are only about two pages long each) in the collection. My guess is, the sugar bag shape is relatively easy to create, since it involves the removal of the corners. I’ve also come across some can-shaped pamphlets and one strange booklet that’s square at the top, but features the image of a wooden salad bowl on the cover. The bottom of the booklet is rounded like a bowl. More recently, we acquired a book on peanuts shaped like–you guessed it–a peanut! Now, if only we had a bread-loaf shaped one to go with it, we would be part way to strange looking peanut butter sandwich…

Gelatine (Yes, that’s with an “e”) from Across the Pond

After several months of stockpiling new items for the Culinary Pamphlet Collection, I finally had a chance to add half a box worth of new materials. There were plenty of new additions to companies for which we already have folders and lots of new companies are now represented. The collection itself is now into Box 5! Among the additions are two advertisements for one our favorite topics–you guess it–gelatin. Or, in this case, gelatine. J. & G. Cox was an Edinburgh, Scotland, based company, so we have acquired an extra “e.” (You’ll also get some additional vowels in the some of the recipes below.)

Cox_ad1_a Cox_ad1_b Cox_ad2Unfortunately, I don’t have any hints as to when these advertisements were created. I know that the company was active in at least the first four decades of the 20th century, but it could have slightly earlier roots, too. Between the 1910s and the 1940s, much like Genessee Pure Foods Co. (later Jell-O Company and General Foods Corporation–Jell-O Division) and Chas. B. Knox Co., this company produced LOTS of small pamphlets with recipes. J. & G. Cox even published at least one pamphlet in French, as well: “Recettes choisies, Cox’s instant powdered gelatine.” I found two copies cataloged by universities in Canada. Lest we forget, gelatin was not an exclusively American product. Until it was commercially available in the late 19th century, it was made at home, by housewives everywhere.

The advertisement on the more orange colored paper is the one with recipes. It’s also the one that appears to have been marketed for American audiences. It has a small “U. S. A.” in the upper left corner and is labeled “specially prepared for exportation.” Yet, the recipes are clearly in British English and have a certain air of British cuisine about them. The other advertisement is more of a single-page essay praising the quality, benefits, and low cost of the Cox’s gelatine. It even includes a testimonial from a chemist. However, both make a reference to it being prepared for export, suggesting J. & G. Cox’s market may have been broad. Both ads are a little different from the pamphlet-type items gelatin companies also produced and gave away. And while these two ads do stand out a little more because of it, the audience and the intention was the same: selling product to consumers, whichever side of the Atlantic they were on.

Cooking with the Blacksburg Woman’s Club

For those of you who aren’t familiar with all the various areas of the History of Food & Drink Collection, one of our strengths is local community cookbooks. We do think about “local” a bit broadly, and while we look to gather primarily Blacksburg, Montgomery County, and Southwest Virginia community cookbooks, our shelves include plenty of titles from around the whole state of Virginia, as well as some of our neighboring Southern states (North Carolina, Tennessee, Maryland especially). By “community” cookbooks, we mean cookbooks produced by churches, schools, clubs and social organizations, historical sites, and other groups, usually created for sale and fund-raising purposes.

This week, I’ve put together a slideshow (I haven’t done one in quite a while!) including selections from My Stove and I, published in 1948. It was compiled by the Blacksburg Woman’s Club and includes recipes by the wives of VPI faculty and administrators, town residents (some of whom have familiar last names if you’re into Blacksburg history), and other sources (including one “Mrs. Harry. S. Truman!”). From what I can tell, this is currently the oldest of our Blacksburg community cookbooks and we’re lucky enough to have three copies. This one includes some handwritten notes and recommendation, some of which you’ll see in the slideshow, presumably put there by the previous owner.

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If you’d like to know more about the Blacksburg Woman’s Club, we can help with that! Special Collections houses a manuscript collection, Ms1960-002, Blacksburg Woman’s Club Records, 1907-1972. You can read more about the collection in the finding aid, and if you’d like to see materials, you can pay us a visit! We’ll be here!


On an unrelated note, we’ll be changing out the content in our public-facing display cases early next week. I’ll be putting together a picnic/grill/barbecue themed exhibit, featuring items from the History of Food and Drink Collection, which I plan to have in place by Tuesday (June 23rd). It will be up for about 4-5 weeks and if you’re in the neighborhood, drop by! Even if we aren’t open, you’ll be able to see everything through our glass wall.

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