hat were they thinking? How did they eat this bilge?

Good questions, but you won't find them answered here. This is a simple introduction to poorly photographed foodstuffs and horrid recipes. It's a wonder anyone in the 40s, 50s and 60s gained any weight; it's a miracle that people didn't put down their issue of Life magazine with a slight queasy list to their gut, and decide to sup on a nice bowl of shredded wheat and nothing else.

It wasn't that the food was inedible; it was merely dull. Everything was geared for a timid palate fearful of spice.  It wasn't non- nutritious - no, between the limp boiled vegetables, fat-choked meat cylinders and pink-whipped-jello dessert, you were bound to find a few calories that would drag you into the next day. It's that the pictures are so hideously unappealing.



here have all these images slumbered, lo these many decades? In small faded books, shoved in the back of some Mom's pantry. They're collector's items now - but of course, eventually, everything is

a collector item. I find them in antique stores, stacked carelessly, forgotten and overpriced, or carefully stowed in plastic envelopes, pristine, awaiting the collector's discerning eye. There's a market for these books.

But why? It's possible that many of the people who buy these books regard them as prime sourcebooks, texts from the Golden Age of Butter. Maybe some appreciate the camp value, but whatever snickering amusement you get from the pictures and text passes quickly. I can't see anyone pulling out their collection on a winter's night and amusing themselves with 50 year old cookie recipes.

That said: for 20 years this site has been up, and people seem to enjoy it. There's an enduring appeal to the old images, the supposedly simpler times they suggest, and the cheerful insistence that pressed meats are the cure for your mealtime blues.

Who am I to say they aren't?

J. Lileks






Finally! An exhaustive, comprehensive, authoritative account of the Recipe Card.

Fridays through 2019; start here. Latest here.




Meat! Meat! Meat! Also, Meat!
B-B-Tricks. Siz and other marvels.
Son of Cooking with 7-Up.
Bran-plus for Minus People. Urgh
10 PM Cookery - you nite-owl, you
Gel-Cookery - as Seen on TV!

The Unbearable Sadness of Vegetables

Pour on the Glorified Outdoors!

Cross-dressing Veggies

Meat Fisting At Home

12 Wonderful Starch-plates

Aunt Jenny's Real-Life Stories

Fridges - Civilization

BBQ: Myth vs Reality

Knudsen's Best

Jell-O Art of the 20s and 30s

Clown Pickles
Chuckwagon Kids
Lunches & Brunches
Celebrity Cooking with Kurt
New in 2019
The Latest Addition - click on the picture to go to the next one.
Start from the beginning

New in 2019
The Latest Addition
Start from the beginning


Don't forget to visit the rest of the Institute!