Fun with Pinterest 1950's Edition

Official Song of the 1950's Housewife.  Read on and find out why...(as if you don't already know).

One of my favorite social media sites is Pinterest.  I can't tell you how many times I have stared hopelessly into the depths of my fridge to find meat with no inspiration to follow.  I only have to worry for 2 minutes until I can get Pinterest up on my computer to help me.  But what about the holidays!

What appetizer can I make for Thanksgiving? 

What can I do for a side salad for Christmas?

What can I take to holiday parties?

How can I jazz up my Thanksgiving table without too much effort?

Luckily, I am living in modern day where all I have to do is type those questions in and Voila! More answers await than I have time to even explore.

But what if I was in the middle of life in the 1950's?  I would have to turn to magazines and cookbooks like those poor housewives of the old days.  As I wandered around the local antique store in town, I happened upon three Better Homes and Gardens magazines from the 1950's and almost fell over as I anxiously turned the pages and read the Holiday Tips and Recipes section. Could you imagine if Pinterest was around back then - you'd have basically three boards:  Jello, Loaves, and Casseroles.  Bahahaa!

I decided to share some of the funniest photos, articles and recipes so that you could really embrace the idea of what Pinterest has done for us and how far we've actually come in what we have to work with.

I hope you get a good laugh out of it - and since the holidays are, in fact, coming, and we will be using Pinterest more than ever, this should help you really take time to appreciate the gift that program really is to us.

Enjoy, and until next time, stay away from surprise Jello.

The first colorful page that not only caught my eye, but also made my stomach turn immediately, was the article called "Thrifty Hamburger Dinners."  This collection of recipes include  Hamburger Ring Barbeque; a recipe that involves baking meatloaf in a jello mold and decorating the middle of the ring with green beans slathered in butter and topped with a sweet and spicy barbeque sauce, and several other gag-worthy nightmares.  Center stage of the photo stars a recipe for "Upside Down Hamburger Pie" that  calls for a combination of ground beef, FAT, and tomato soup on a bed of biscuits and topped with raw onion rings.  Not sure about your kids, but I might have a complete uprising if I put that on the table, not to mention, I try not to stock my pantry with fat in a jar.  One of the funniest things I noticed that 6 out of the 10 hamburger recipes call for tomato soup, fat, and green beans.  The lack of choices when pulling these dishes together was equal parts funny and sad.  Other recipe titles in this article were:  "He-Man Casserole," "Chef's Surprise,"  (you will see the word "surprise" used often in these recipes), "Savory Meatpie," and "Steak and Onion Pie."  I don't know about you, but none of those yell "MAKE ME TONIGHT."  Maybe I'm too picky?

This comes from an article called "Thrifty Hamburger Dinners."
 I had to include this advertisement for Libby's because it caught my eye as I flipped through.  I am kind of jealous that I don't own a Vegetable Tilt-a-Whirl.  Imagine how fun a buffet table would look with one of these - preferably not with succotash-like themes in the mini-cars of the ferris wheel.  Maybe hummus, dip, raw veggies, fruit?  Not sure, but I NEED this 1950's  server on my Holiday Table. 

Because your table is plain old naked without the Veggie Ferris Wheel.
I had to post this Prize Recipes photo because it is such a sad representation of what these people had to work with for exciting new dishes in the 50's.  Think about what a recipe needs to win a prize THESE days of Pinterest and then consider the "winners" of that year.  Some of the winners include:
Pennsylvania Dutch Pepper Cabbage - main ingredient is Heinz canned Chicken Stew with Dumplings.   A close second place winner include Macaroni Tuna Loaf starring a can of "Macaroni in Cheese Sauce" (sorry folks, no longer found in can variety in stores!), and get this - "Hearty Beans: a masculine favorite with a special feminine appeal when topped with onion braised in butter."  Because nothing yells feminine touch like being braised in butter and smelling like onions.  Oh the creative writing of Mad Men agencies to make Heinz Cooking Contest sing the praises of women all over the country.  For dessert, the big winner was a 'Big, Cool, Refreshing Fruit Salad" made with canned fruit, GARNISHED WITH FRESH FRUIT and  - wait for it - topped with HEINZ VINEGAR.  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! NO NO NO NO! 
One of the "Prize Winning Entries"  consists of Cream of Canned Macaroni.  *Shudder*
Moving on to desserts.  You can't imagine the poor choices and horrible ideas that were suggested in these magazines.  First of all, everything is a BIG SURPRISE.  I'm not sure if the 50's lacked that much zest for life, or general lack of surprise - but why did the element of fun and shock have to come via dessert?  I don't know about you, but I like birthday surprises, and party surprises, but NOT surprises in my spoonfuls of food. Maybe we just aren't risk takers like the people of the 50's?  Take this "WHITE Mystery Fruitcake"  (why is white capitalized? was it that big of a shocker that the cake would be white?) Aren't there enough surprises in fruit cake as it is - why more?  Because MORE surprises make it MORE fun to NOT eat!  Guess what the mystery ingredient that makes it white is!  Betty Crocker WHITE cake mix.  WHO KNEW! Those were some wild and crazy contestants in the kitchen of Top Chef Betty Crocker Corporation.  Oh, and just for fun, don't forget to throw in white frosting to really confuse them.
Why all the mystery?  Were the 50's missing that much excitement that their surprises had to come by way of their food?
You guys, I can't.  I don't know if I'm ready to talk about this one yet.  I'll try.  Want to know what the fun surprise ingredient is in these Thanksgiving dinner side dishes?  Mayonnaise.  Oh, and Pineapple....or maybe the walnuts?  or the unflavored gelatin (why did EVERYTHING have to be Jello-like consistency?)  Don't you dare forget to serve it on a bed of lettuce and TOP IT WITH ANOTHER TABLESPOON OF MAYO!  
Cranberry Souffle Surprise - Jello Plus Mayo Plus Lemon = NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO and the slogan "This is the place for Hellman's?  No...actually, this is NOT the place, like at all...for Hellman's. Go home to your tuna salad where you belong."
I feel like the sad part about the Holiday Edition of the Better Homes 1950's edition was the large section DEDICATED to fruit cake.  What was so damn elegant about fruitcake?  NO ONE ATE THEM.  Everyone brought them to each other's house and smiled their June Cleaver smile while secretly rolling their eyes to heaven as they placed it on the dessert table.  No seven layer bars?  No three tier cake boss type cakes at these parties?  Ooof.  No wonder the ladies were so damn skinny - the food choices were disgusting! 
Yay for more secrets!!! Oooh tell us! What is the BIG SECRET in this beauty?  Double rich Pet Milk!  WHAT THE HELL IS PET MILK ANYWAY?? Turns out it was just evaporated milk...and they thought that was a great idea to name it. I know they claim that Pet Milk was the big surprise ingredient, but as I look over the list, I have to say I am torn between the Marshmallows, dates, and the surprise alcohol flavoring.  All of them just so unexpected it's hard to say who wins. 
 I was utterly terrified while reading the treats that every holiday feast must include.  Take the Yuletide Mold for starters.  Of course the recipe calls for even more unflavored gelatin (why..for the love - was jello the only consistency they could eat??? What the hell?), SOUR CREAM, AVOCADO (weren't they just ahead of their time using avocado!?), TABASCO - oh make it stop! Your Yuletide Mold cried for only the BEST salad dressing, pimiento and oranges.  Are you starting to wonder if anyone actually ate any of this?  Could you imagine the poor kids?  "Now honey, be a good boy and eat all of your Yuletide Mold that Grandma made!"   GROSS!  Moving on to the Gala Fruit Wreath pictured below, that bowl of white creamy stuff in the middle is in fact, NOT cream cheese fruit spread or anything fun like that - no delicious goodness to dip your fruit in.  It is, my friends, MAYONNAISE.  More Mayonnaise.  Mayonnaise and jello, mayo and veggies, mayo and meat, mayo and fruit. MAYO MAYO MAYOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.  Do you think when these ladies were making their holiday dishes they just started singing, "I throw my hands up in the air sometimes singing "MAYO...GOTTA USE MAYYYOOOO." 
 Come on people!  Don't you just want to yell back in time and tell them that some day they will live a life without JELLO AND MAYO SURPRISES!  Hang in there - Pinterest is commmmmmminnnnnnnng!    Okay let's talk about the frosted King Henry grapes on the Gala Fruit Wreath.  Maybe their grapes weren't already white from pesticide like ours are now - maybe they didn't have to wash them six times to get that film off?  So they had to create their own frosted look with using egg whites and coating them in sugar.  Egg whites and sugar.  Egg whites and Sugar....on their grapes.  Who ate this stuff?  They suggest using the Wreath as a centerpiece AND a Salad OR Dessert.   Wait, what?  When they give you the choice of using something as a salad OR a dessert we have a serious problem. I feel extremely sad that they suggest garnishing your wreath with - are you ready?  Holly leaves.  What poor, unknowing man will innocently grab a holly leaf, dip it in that irresistIble mayo dip and end up in the guest bathroom with side effects of eating holly leaves like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and stomach and intestinal problems.  It's just not a party until you have Poison Control on the heavy rotary phone.
Gala Fruit Wreath: Center a large round platter with bowl of Fluffy Mayo, apple cups placed on groups of 3 lettuce ruffles, fill in with fruits like canned pears, canned peaches, canned pineapple, canned apricots, frosted grapes AND fresh kumquats.  Oh that made me laugh - everything canned and frosted - but must add fresh kumquats.  Who the hell does Kumquats thing he is? lol!  Don't forget the candied ginger to ease stomach upset after eating the poisonous holly leaves.  WAY TO GO BETTER HOMES.   THIS IS A CLASSIC.
 Shoot!  I forgot to pop this in under Fun with Holiday Appetizers!!  This amazing Holiday Cheese Ring is not enough when served on a platter with crackers - it MUST be adorned in toxic glass Christmas bulbs!   You guys, really?   Why would it ever, EVER, be necessary to adorn a cheese ring with GLASS BULBS??  I mean WTF? STOP THIS MADNESS 1950's housewives!  I'm begging you! 
Be extra careful how much you have to drink at this holiday party because slicing into a cheese ring could poison you.
 Why should Pillsbury have all of the fun with their bad ideas of cheese roll center poisoning decor?  What about this brilliant idea for your cake center?  In this recipe for "Cherry Candle Cake" it will LOOK like Christmas when you light this candle on your dessert table!  When you cut this deliciously light and airy cake, folks will see the red flecks of candied cherry and not know whether they are part of the outside lead paint of the red candle or actual bits of cherry!  Nothing says risk taker like throwing caution to the wind and really digging into this toxic cake!  I'll tell you, folks will be lined up outside of the guest bathroom at this awesome party!

That's it for now my friends.  I hope you got a good laugh like I did - - and now you will really appreciate Pinterest, and the millions of recipes at your fingertips this holiday season.  May your season be merry, bright, peaceful, and without Jello, Mayo, Food Surprises, & Poison.  We've come a long way, baby.


  1. GAH-Rossssssssssss!!!!! I need to go find a roll of Tums and lie down for about a month after reading all of that.

  2. I have a book like this, and if I weren't so lazy, I'd go downstairs and find it and tell you the name of it. My brother got it for me years ago, and it's about food trends over the 20th century.

    I decided to make something from it for a progressive dinner a few years ago. It was called Candlelight Salad and consisted of a pineapple ring with a peeled banana standing up in the middle of it, Miracle Whip or mayo dribbled down the side, and a sliver of maraschino cherry on top. It was supposed to look like a burning candle, and ladies of the time had to reserve it for ladies luncheons, because men snickered too much if served to them. And yes, I totally served it to men.

    I found this picture if you'd like a better illustration:

  3. This is hilarious and I am dying! Please be my friend forever.


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