I enjoy reading jokes in hundred-year-old magazines. Sometimes they work for me; other times they don’t. This one made me smile.
Food must have been a lot scarcer a century ago than it is now. A hundred-year-year old magazine had this tip about how to successfully save those tiny dabs of extra butter that are sometimes left over after buttering bread:
Use bread and butter plates – yes, even if you do your own dishes. Every bit of left-over butter or margarine can be saved this way. It can’t be, or isn’t always, if put on the dinner plate.
American Cookery (August-September, 1918)
Is it just me, or does this tip seem slightly gross? At my house, I scrape any left-over butter off the plate and throw it away. Of course, I never use bread and butter plates, but still this seems a bit over the top.
People have wondered for a long time how exercise and other activities affect the number of calories needed. A 1919 home economics textbook contained this table with U.S. Department of Agriculture data on the “average calorific requirements of the body under different conditions.” The book contained examples of how the table could be used to calculate the number of calories needed by an individual:
A woman of about 130 pounds, sleeping for 8 hours, doing light housework 10 hours, reading, etc. 6 hours, would require (8 X 56) + (10 X 148) + (6 X 87) = 2,450 calories. A boy of about the same weight with 8 hours sleep, 8 hours active exercise, 6 hours playing tennis (severe exercise) and 2 hours quiet would require (8 X 56) + (8 X 165) + (6 X 390) + (2 X 87) = 4,282 calories.
Household Engineering: Scientific Management in the Home by Christine Frederick (1919)
hmm. . . I wonder if the information in the 1919 table is still considered correct.
Old cookbooks sometimes have poems, such as this one in a 1919 cookbook. It was at the beginning of a chapter containing bread recipes. The poem lays out the path involved in creating a bread ingredient (flour). People were so much closer to agrarian life back then, and had a clear understanding of relationship between the weather, wheat production, the milling process, and flour. Would a similar poem resonate with cookbook users today?
Some people eat bread crusts and consider them the best part of a loaf of bread; others toss them in the trash. Apparently, the value of bread crusts is a long-standing question. Here are some excerpts from a 1919 magazine article:
“Eat the Crusts”
“Eat the crusts, dear,” grandfather used to say to me when on those delightful never-to-be forgotten childhood visits to grandpa’s house.
Whether it was because of the dear old man’s admonition and the love I bore I don’t know, but I do know that I have always eaten crusts and do yet.
In childhood I ate crusts because my elders said it was right to eat them, and as I grew up and went to high school and college, I took a more than passing interest in chemistry, and then I discovered the real reason why one should eat bread crusts. The heat of the oven has a particular effect on the starch and sugar contained in the flour of the wheat and changes it into dextrine, and the greatest amount of dextrine is found in the crusts, so that the crusts of bread are the most easily taken care of by the stomach.
American Cookery (October, 1919)
Today built-in kitchen cabinets are the norm. A hundred years ago “modern” kitchen cabinets were moveable.
Here are some excerpts from the description of kitchen cabinets in a 1919 book:
Kitchen cabinets are combined tables and closets which have been constructed as the outcome of efficiency methods. They represent grouping about the working center the supplies and tools that belong to the work of that center.
Such cabinets may be purchased today in wood or in metal which has an enamel painted or enameled. The wood cabinets were the first on the market, and represent the same points in capacity and convenience that the metal ones do, but the question of cleanliness rather turned the attention to the metal ones. The metal cabinets are more noisy than the wooden ones, but are more likely to be proof against vermin, rats, and mice, and may be easily cleaned by water without becoming water-soaked. Metal cabinets are also nonabsorbent to odors and to any spilled food.
Lippincott’s Home Manuals: Housewifery by Lydia Ray Balderston (1919)
I associate Lazy Susan revolving servers with Chinese restaurants, but they actually have been used in other settings for at least a hundred years. Here’s what a 1919 home economics textbook said:
The so-called “Lazy Susan” or servette finds favor with the homemaker who is her own maid. This is a revolving circular wooden or glass disk, supported on a stand placed in the center of the table. Food laid on the disk may be revolved to each person in turn, thus saving “passing,” or frequent rising. It also saves space on the the table by giving a place to bread and butter, sauces, condiments and other small dishes.
Household Engineering: Scientific Management in the Home by Mrs. Christine Frederick (1919)