1916 Heinz Spaghetti Advertisement

Source: Ladies Home Journal (April, 1916)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (April, 1916)

I’m often fascinated by even the simplest hundred-year-old advertisements. For example, this advertisement for Heinz Spaghetti is so basic –yet it provides many insights into the use of commercially prepared foods,ย  ‘international cuisine’, and cooking methods back then.

55 thoughts on “1916 Heinz Spaghetti Advertisement

  1. That’s really interesting — the instruction to heat it in the can. I’ve had the occasion to eat cold spaghetti out of the can, and believe me: heating it would be a great improvement. But in 1916, I can only imagine how many women sighed with pleasure at the thought of an easily-made lunch.

    A friend and I were talking about another golden oldie: Mary Kitchen hash. We used to buy it, then slice and fry it. Like the spaghetti, it’s still in the stores, so it must have its fans. Actually, I remember it as being rather good. I ought to buy a can and test my memory!

    1. In 1916, they probably considered canned spaghetti to be a “modern” food. I’ve never tried Mary Kitchen Hash. It’s amazing how long some of these products have been available.

    1. The directions to heat in the can before opening seem odd to me. It must have worked, but I’d worry that there might be a risk that the can could explode.

    1. Maybe they were worried that if the spaghetti was put into a saucepan to heat that it might burn onto the bottom of the pan. Many people used wood or coal stoves back then, and they had less control over the temperature.

  2. I understand and sometimes use prepared tomato sauce, but will never understand the idea of precooked/canned spaghetti in sauce. It’s one of the worse things anyone can put in a can, yet it’s quite popular somehow. It didn’t occur to me it started so long ago. Very interesting.

    1. It seems like many people consider convenience to be more important than taste. Canned foods have been around a long time. For example, Upton Sinclair wrote about the poor conditions in a plant where meat was canned in The Jungle. It was published in 1906.

    1. It’s nice to hear that you like it. I also remember eating canned ravioli when I was young. Chef Boyardee Ravioli was canned in a town near where I grew up so it was always a particular favorite. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I’m very surprised at how long canned spaghetti has been around and also the instructions for heating the can first. I remember eating canned baked beans and spaghetti often as a child. i think it was quite common in Australia.

    1. Canned convenience foods were very popular when I was growing up. If seems odd now, but in some ways I think that we thought that they were somehow better than homemade foods.

  4. Be careful heating a closed can. It can explode from steam building up in it. You need to put vent holes in the top. It can be real exciting when one of those cans go off. I learned this in the Army eating C rations that Army no longer use. I wonder how many cans of spaghetti ended up on the ceiling.

    1. Wow, it sounds dangerous. When I saw this ad, I wondered about whether it was safe to heat foods in the can – now I know. DO NOT HEAT FOOD IN CANS. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. What were they thinking … ‘as prepared in the best Italian restaurants…’? The Advertising Standards Authority might have something to say about that in 2016 – I hope!

    1. It amazing (and a little scary) how advertising is able to convince us that something that isn’t really very good is desirable. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I had to read this a few times to make sure I was understanding that the spaghetti was in the can. “Only” 15 minutes to heat? I doubt it came out al dente! And here I thought that my childhood Spaghettios were the first to come out of a can.

    1. Canned convenience foods have been around a long time. After heating for 15 minutes, I’m sure that the pieces of spaghetti would have been very “tender,” if not mushy. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Apparently it didn’t take much back then for a food to be considered exotic. Even though the ad says to heat the spaghetti in the can, it doesn’t sound safe to me.

  7. Gosh, I’d forgotten spaghetti in a can. And I would definitely not do that heating in a can thing, given that the can is lined with preservative toxins — at least that’s what I learned at a nutrition seminar a couple of years ago.

    1. Yuck – I hadn’t though about that. It definitely does not sound safe to heat food in a can. It’s strange how the ad recommended it.

    1. I hate to admit it, but we occasionally ate canned spaghetti or ravioli when I was a child – and I think that I considered it a treat at the time. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I am always learning something new from your blog! I had no idea canned pasta was available 100 years ago. I associate canned spaghetti and “Beefaroni” with my childhood, but clearly it was available a few decades before that! By I do know my mother always heated it in a saucepan, not the can. I wonder when that changed?

  9. Love this one, Sheryl.
    Can’t but smile at the heat before opening as an uncle of mine did same in the oven with a steak and kidney pie and the memory still lingers of the mess and laughter!
    Not opening tins remains a bit of a phobia of mine!!!

  10. I don’t think I ever ate canned spaghetti cold, but when I was teaching at SCSU I’d eat cold Campbell’s soup out of the can — a quick lunch, usually in the office accompanied by another woman on the faculty. The men had time to go to the cafeteria. We women had to fill every hour because we had family and households waiting for our care at home.

    1. Whew, it sounds like you were juggling a lot of things. It’s so difficult how the years when the tenure-review process generally take place occur at about the same time that family responsibilities are often the greatest.

    2. The joy was that every segment of my life fed the energy for every other part — including the colleague who ate lunch in the office with me. What I wouldn’t give to have that energy now! But then, life has its seasons.

      1. How true – During times that were busy and challenging I’ve often learned much from others and made new enduring friends. I’m in awe of how your energy is gradually returning. I’m totally convinced that there are wonderful things we can both learn and contribute during each season of our lives.

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