Hundred-year-old cookbooks often included advertisements at the back of the book, which helped defray the costs of printing the book. Here’s a 1917 cookbook advertisement for oleomargarine. (Yes, they had margarine back than – though they called it by a longer name.). It appeared in The Housewife’s Cook Book (1917) by Lilla Frich.
The book was self-published by Ms. Frich. (Is Ms. the right title to use when writing about a woman who wrote more than 50 years before the term was term was commonly used?) She was the Supervisor of Domestic Science for the Minneapolis Public Schools.
Even though the book’s title refers to “housewife’s,” I think that the book was written for use in high school domestic science (home ec) classes. I guess the presumption was that students needed to be taught skills in school so that they were prepared for their future careers as homemakers.
Wesson Oil has been around for more than a hundred years – though its composition has changed over time. It originally was a cottonseed oil. Today it is a mixture of oils, and may contain soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, or sunflower oil.
I tend to think that there were no commercially prepared foods in the mid-1800s – but I’ve learned that’s not true. Some food products have been around for more than 150 years. According to a 1917 advertisement, Gulden Mustard is one of those foods.
Today we know that “breast is best” when it comes to feeding infants, but that formula is often used. I know of no one who would give an infant cows’ milk, but apparently a hundred years ago there was a discussion about whether the milk from one breed of cows was preferable to another for babies.
I have vague childhood memories of people telling me that Puffed Rice was good for me because it was made by shooting the rice grains from a cannon – though I was clueless as to why shooting the grain made it more nutritious. Well, now I know; it’s easier to digest. The cannon (or gun) promotion for Puffed Rice has been around for a long time. I found this ad in a hundred-year-old magazine.
Sometimes I’m in awe of (or perhaps a better wording is “shocked by”) some of the things I find in advertisements from a hundred years ago. This 1916 advertisement for saccharin appeared in a trade magazine for food processors.
Saccharin was banned in 1911 by the Pure Food Referee Board in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. According to an article in National Food Magazine called “The Passing of Saccharin”:
It has a preservative power and is very cheap. But the Referee Board, which has been investigating Saccharin, has found it guilty of causing indigestion and otherwise injuring the system. Therefore, the government has issued a ruling entirely prohibiting its use after July 1.
National Food Magazine (June, 1911)
In 1912, the government reversed the decision and again allowed the use of saccharin, but it remained controversial – thus the advertisement in the trade magazine explaining why saccharin “won”.