Friday, December 16, 2011

Woman's Day, 1946

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt got me thinking of food and additives people once ate without another thought. Food that today gives us, shall we say, great pause. I plucked a few ads from the Jan. 1946 issue of Woman's Day. The cover features a babe sucking its thumb, perhaps worried about what mom will cook up next. 1946 is also the first year of the Baby Boom generation, which would grow up to start all kinds of interesting things, including the back-to-earth and natural foods movements.

Prem must have been a rival to Spam. It's a meat substance in a can. The era of greater cooking convenience for women had dawned.

Mor is more meat in a can. How did a shopper choose between Prem, Mor and Spam? Flavors no doubt varied.

Ched-O-Bit! Fun name and packaging. Recipe shown calls for 1 tablespoon fat, to saute celery and green pepper. Ah, the days before EVO, extra virgin olive oil. Nice use of illustration to complement photo of the casserole.

 WW2 was just ended, but shortages were still affecting daily life.

Many of these foods and add-ons are still available, of course. I'm sure I have some A-1 Sauce somewhere in my cupboard.

Here is Betty Hutt's suggested meals on a budget. I'll pass on the cheese spoon bread, deviled kidney and sausage casserole, and the bean and bologna bake. Ginger dumplings sound good, but I don't know if I'd follow the recipe that includes dark corn syrup and molasses. Pears baked in grape and orange juices sounds intriguing and simple enough to do.

Jellied tomato ring?! The dessert cheese arrangement is still popular, and I can see the veggie relish bowl holding its own today. The Black and Gold dessert calls for prune juice and stewed prunes in the middle of a round gold cake. Hmm, maybe all these strange eating habits led to problems, as evidenced by these ads...

You'll find other juicy tidbits when you click the logo below...


  1. Treet is another canned meat.

    I like reading the old food ads, but I wouldn't want to eat most of the featured foods. Now artificial flavors are a big business, and a lot of foods don't include any of the natural product that the flavor imitates.

  2. Ha! Yeah, I've seen articles on the benefits of sugar and even kids drinking soda! I don't know how far we've come though. Checking all the chemicals in our food now, most we can't even pronounce, is pretty scary too!

  3. Somehow I'm glad we've moved on. Quite a collection of food gone by. Not Christmas fare I hope.

  4. These are priceless! I really enjoyed perusing the old ads, and how lovely that it ties in with my post this week. My heroine became famous in WW2 helping people prepare dishes from rations. I expect people didn’t turn their noses up at Spam as we would, as they were grateful to have it. As for Castoria, administered by that smiling nurse. No thanks.

  5. Wow, there was some scary and unappealing food. No wonder people were thinner then. I think one serving of jellied tomato ring or planked spam would have been plenty. No temptation for seconds. It is pretty fascinating how much our eating habits have changed in a few short decades. It would have been rare to find a recipe then that used wine. And balsamic vinegar...unheard of.

  6. Oh my what an adventure that was...and can you imagine all that beauty and odd food too, for just 2 cents....for the magazine! thanks for sharing these pages!

  7. Now sadly, I have to admit to having eaten Spam within the last 10 years - shelf stable camping food. Interestingly, it tastes pretty good after hiking about the woods all day. But, like so many camp foods ... not at all the thing at home!

    Great collection of ads. Reminds me of my Mom's old cookbooks.

  8. Spam is still popular in Hawaii, as I discovered on a trip there a couple of years ago.

  9. Fascinating set of kitchen delights! ♥

  10. I installed a custom kitchen for a good friend and his wife who was a vegetarian. The stove was one of the fancier Viking semi/commercial gas models. When my friend, who was not a total vegetarian, fired up the stove for the first time, his first meal to cook was a can of Spam! Childhood tastes for foods sometimes never leave us. Great post.

  11. I still use Brer Rabbit dark molasses! I make my own pancake syrup with it. It's bitter by itself, so it's cut with white sugar. Healthy good stuff!

    I'm always amazed at how small the portions where back then. Meals where much more simple and economical. You could cook with a little fat because that's the only place you got it. It wasn't hiding in all your food. What a fat nation we are now...myself included. ;)

  12. Good points, Alexandra. The meals were more measured, and fat was likely to be used more judiciously.

  13. I remember crying every time my mom would open a can of spam to fix a quick lunch or something, as she was a busy woman... or lazy sometimes. Cooking was really not her forte. She eventually gave up on that stuff.

    And that laxative ad made me laugh so hard. I can almost hear a jingle for it in my head... Scary, what goes on in my head. Maybe I've eaten too much...
    Pass the Castoria!!