Seven-Cent Meals

Advertisement for booklet containing directions for making seven cent meals
Source: Good Housekeeping (December, 1919)

Holiday meals can be expensive to prepare, so I’m always looking for budget-friendly recipes and meals that I can use to keep my food expenditures in check. A classified ad in a hundred-year-old issue of Good Housekeeping offers a solution – serve meals that only cost seven cents. I’d be willing to pay a dime to learn how to make seven-cent meals (or I might even consider telling a white lie and claiming that I’m interested in Domestic Science so that I can get the book for free).

1919 West Bend Roaster Advertisement

Man holding roasting pan
Source: Good Housekeeping (November, 1919)

Thanksgiving is a day for family, memories, and traditions. Even the most mundane parts of the day have meaning. I roast my turkey in a granite-ware roasting pan that is similar to my grandmother’s – though I have memories of a beautiful stainless steel roasting pan that my mother used, and sometimes think I should use a stainless steel pan like hers. And, then I come across a hundred-year-old advertisement for an aluminum roasting pan that will “last forever,” and wonder if any are still around.

The big day will soon be winding down, and I’ll be using lots of elbow grease to wash my roasting pan. Maybe I’m too wedded to tradition. One friend swears that disposable roasting pans that only cost a few dollars are the way to go; another insists that plastic roasting bags make the best juicy, tender turkeys- and that cleanup is a breeze.

Whatever foods you are eating today; and, however they were prepared, have an awesome day!

Happy Thanksgiving

1919 Wheatena Advertisement

Advertisement for Wheatena with girl pushing wheelbarrow
Source: American Cookery (December, 1919)

Many cereals come and go over the course of a few years – remember Cinnamon Mini Buns cereal? . . . or Dinersaurs? But a few cereals have been around for more than a hundred years. For example, Wheatena has been produced since the 1880s.

I’ve never actually eaten Wheatena – but this 1919 advertisement makes me want to give this old-time cooked cereal a try. What’s not to like? It has a tantalizing nutty flavor, is nourishing, is easy to prepare, AND it tastes good.

1919 Diamond Crystal Salt Advertisement

Advertisement for Diamond Salt
Source: Good Housekeeping (November, 1919)

Advertising is supposed to convince people that they should buy a product. Sometimes an ad that apparently worked well a hundred years ago doesn’t work quite as well today.

If I wanted to promote salt, I won’t say “white as hoar-frost on pumpkins.” Is it just me, or do others not know what “hoar-frost” is? Of course, I could google the term – but by then I’ve lost all interest in buying the product.

And, would an ad today promote the “sanitary package”?

1919 Farwell & Rhines Gluten Flour Advertisement

Advertisement for Gluten Flour
Source: American Cookery (February, 1919)

I often learn new things from doing this blog. For example, today I noticed a small advertisement in a hundred-year-old magazine for Farwell & Rhines Gluten Flour. Since some people have health issues that require them to go gluten free (or at least minimize their use of gluten), I was surprised to see high gluten promoted. How did cooks in 1919 use this flour?  . . . Did they mix it with other flours? Use if for bread making?

Gluten is a protein. Flours with higher gluten content rise better when making breads. According to SFGate, all-purpose flour typically contains 11-12% gluten. Bread flour is considered a high gluten flour, and it contains up to 13% gluten. Cake flours only have 7-8% gluten. There are also products sold that are just called “gluten.” Gluten is sometimes added to other flours to increase the gluten content when making bread.

1919 Swans Down Cake Flour Advertisement

image of box of cake flour in an advertisement
Source: American Bakery (August/September, 1919)

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.

1919 Baker’s Coconut Advertisement

Baker's Coconut Advertisement with image of coconut tree and can of coconut
Source: American Cookery (April, 1919)

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).