Shortening is made by hydrogenating soybean, canola, or other oils to make them solid and shelf-stable. Today there is a debate about whether shortening is good or bad. A hundred-years-ago Crisco, which is a shortening, was the “new kid on the block,” and its manafacturer had to convince cooks that it was better than lard and other animal fats.
Back then lard and other animal fats were generally produced by local farmers – so there were variations in the characteristics and quality. To convince cooks to switch to Crisco, advertisements focused on its wholesoness and purity. Here is what a 1920 promotional cookbook for Crisco said:
Why Crisco with a Balanced Diet
Solomon was one of the keenest observers in all history. Referring to the good woman he said: “She looketh well to the ways of her household.”
Certainly good cookery is one of the most important of the things worthwhile in life and Crisco has been a contributing factor to the comfort and gratification of countless housewives and chefs who seek for delicacy and wholesomeness of their own cooking. Undoubtedly many lives are shortened by unwise choice of foods. Many others suffer handicaps in depleted energy through indigestion and malnutrition resulting from ill-prepared or badly-balanced foods.
Crisco is so wholesome in itself it may be used with perfect assurance that it will aid in the preparation of a chosen diet that will not only be well balanced but possess those qualities of tastiness and daintiness for which every good cook has striven from the days of Epicurus at his luxurious feasts.
The stomach is the human laboratory in which all chemical changes in food take place, either for weal or woe. Crisco is so clean and pure it always blends nicely with the right food combinations likely to remove causes of so many internal digestive troubles and consequent misery. To the American housewife we say try Crisco in your own cooking.
You will find how delicious and dainty the natural flavors of many foods can readily be when prepared with Crisco and thus tasted at their very best. And you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you are using the kind of cooking fat necessary for wholesome, well-balanced meals.
If there is any question, you may desire to ask on dietary problems or cooking, feel perfectly free to write us and ask us. Our Bureau of Household Service will gladly advise you, for it is maintained in the interests of better cooking and happier homes.
Yours very sincerely,
The Procter & Gamble Company
Source: Balance Daily Diet (1920) by Janet McKenzie Hill