Old advertisements provide lots of information about which cooking ingredients were available at different periods of time – and they also sometimes provide information about how those goods were packaged. The waxed paper wrapper surrounding the Swans Down Cake Flour package was obviously seen as a key selling point in this 1919 advertisement.
Today some people believe that coconut milk has health benefits. A hundred years ago, advertisers were also promoting the use of coconut milk – but to save milk and shortening. Coconut milk could be substituted for the milk and some of the fat in recipes. Back then coconut apparently came in cans which contained a mixture of shredded coconut and coconut milk – and cooks had to drain the coconut (and find uses for the coconut milk).
I was surprised to see an advertisement for refrigerators in a 1919 issue of Ladies Home Journal. Was the refrigerator electric? And, was the electricity dependable enough to ensure that food stayed cold in the refrigerator?
I’m often amazed by the advertisements that I find in hundred-year-old magazines. Some of the most fascinating ones are the small advertisements in the back of a magazine that individuals with entrepreneurial aspirations place. For example, I never would have thought about selling a recipe for toothpaste . . . but maybe I lack imagination. I wonder how many recipes he sold.
Some things haven’t changed much over the past hundred years. For example, in both 1919 and 2019, Heinz emphasized that the company offered several varieties of vinegar.
The 1919 Heinz Vinegars advertisement said that “Malt, Apple, and White” varieties were available, and that they were “one of the 57” Heinz products.
The current Heinz brand tagline is “A Vinegar for Every Need.”
Is it grammatically correct to pluralize “vinegar” or is “vinegars” an archaic term?
I was surprised to see an advertisement for a oven thermometer in the February, 1919 issue of American Cookery magazine. Cooks had a bit more information about oven temperatures than I’d previously realized.
Cooking with wood and coal stoves a century ago could be challenging. Hundred-year-old recipes never indicated the exact temperature that should be used when baking food in the oven. Instead the recipes said things like use a “high temperature” or a “medium temperature.” And, the cook was left to her (it was generally a woman in those days) own devices to figure out how to regulate the temperature. For example, more wood or coal might be thrown on the fire to get increase the temperature.
A 1919 Jello advertisement treats measles as a common ailment, and suggests that children who are sick with the measles might enjoy eating Jell-o while they recuperate. The first measles vaccines were introduced during the 1960s, and the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MRR) vaccine was introduced in 1973.