Church Cookbook Advertisements A Hundred Years Ago

Advertisements in church cookbook
Source: Ladies’ Union Cook Book (1921) compiled by the Ladies of the West Concord Union Church, Concord Junction, Massachusetts

Church cookbooks, both a hundred years ago and now, often contain advertisements from local businesses. The ads can help defray the cost of producing the cookbook, and can increase profits if the cookbook is sold as a fundraiser.

These advertisements are often very basic – yet I enjoy looking at them. They provide insights into the community and the times. For example, these advertisements from a 1921 Massachusetts church cookbook compiled by ladies of West Concord Union Church (Why are they called “ladies” rather than “women”? And, though perhaps it is obvious given the year, why did just “ladies” compile the cookbook rather than church “members”?) suggest that many homes regularly purchased ice (For an ice box?), that fresh fish was readily available, and that the area was fairly rural.

1921 Fleischmann Yeast Advertisement

Advertisement for Fleischmann Yeast
Source: The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1921 Edition)

It’s always fun to read old advertisements. Both then and now ad writers knew how to promote products in ways that would increase sales. The slogan used in a 1921 Fleischmann Yeast advertisement, “Eat More Bread” doesn’t quite work for me, but maybe it sold yeast back in the day.

1921 Chicago Asbestos Table Mat Co. Advertisement

Advertisement for Chicago Asbestos Table Mat Comany
Source: The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1921

This 1921 advertisement for asbestos table mats reminded me of how much our knowledge base has changed across the years. A hundred years ago many products contained asbestos; today we know that it is dangerous.

Yet I’m old enough to remember when asbestos products were considered safe. The dining room table in my childhood home had a mat that looked almost identical to the one in the picture – and I’m now realizing that it may have contained asbestos which is a bit scary.

Some things it’s best not to think too much about. I think that I’ll focus on memories of the wonderful family gatherings around that dining room table, rather than focusing on the table mat (which may not have actually contained asbestos).

1921 Hebe Advertisement

Advertisement for Hebe
Source: The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (Revised Edition, 1921)

Hebe sounds wonderful in the advertisement, but it actually was very controversial. Hebe was similar to evaporated milk – but was a mixture of skim evaporated milk and coconut fat. It was less expensive than regular evaporated milk. Hebe was a “filled milk” which means that the milk was reconstituted with fats other than dairy fats.

A hundred years ago Hebe was seen as a threat to the dairy industry. According to MySA:

Congress passed a law in 1923 (H.R. 8086 or 67 P.L. 513) banning its shipment: “It is hereby declared that filled milk, as herein defined, is an adulterated article of food, injurious to the public health, and its sale constitutes a fraud upon the public. It shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture within any Territory or possession, or within the District of Columbia, or to ship or deliver for shipment in interstate or foreign commerce, any filled milk.”  Infant formula — under certain rules — was allowed.

Any violation of the law was punishable by “a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment of not more than one year, or both…”.

And that was the end of Hebe.