1919 Ideal Weight Table for Women

Weight and height table, female
Source – Household Engineering: Scientific Management in the Home by Mrs. Christine Frederick (1919)

Some things haven’t changed much over the past hundred years. Similarly to now, people worried about their weight back then.  A 1919 home economics textbook even contained a table that showed the “ideal weight” by height for a 30-year-old woman.

The book also offered advice for women about the importance of improving their eating habits:

Many women say, “Oh, I know I’m fat, but I feel all right anyway.” Nevertheless such women should practice those habits which will keep weight down automatically, no matter how well they feel, because (1) excess fat is unattractive from the appearance standpoint; (2) overweight after 35 years (according to the best insurance statistics) is closely associated with a high death rate; (3) an excess weight particularly handicaps efficiency in work or recreation.

Every homemaker, then, should closely estimate her own dietary. If she has servants and merely makes the beds or does light dusting, etc., then she needs only approximately 1,800-2,400 calories daily; but if she does most of her housework, including the heavier work of room cleaning, laundry work, etc., then she will need more nearly 2,500-2,800 calories.

Source – Household Engineering: Scientific Management in the Home by Mrs. Christine Frederick (1919)

Why Chocolate Icing Loses Its Gloss

piece of cake with chocolate frosting

When I make chocolate icing it often is tasty, but isn’t as smooth and glossy as I’d like. Well, I think that I’ve found the cause, as well as the solution, in a 1919 magazine article.

Why Chocolate Icing Loses Its Gloss

If a chocolate icing is beaten too much before spreading, the gloss will be lost. It should be spread while it is yet a little “runny,” so that it flows of itself to a great extent over the surface of the cake. Sometimes if a knife-blade, dipped into hot water is used to smooth the icing, it will restore the gloss.

American Cookery (December, 1919)

How Many Dishes Do I Need?

List of dishes
Source: Housewifery by L. Ray Balderston (1919)

I used think that I have too many dishes, but then I can across a list in a 1919 book, and realized (at least by the standards of a hundred years ago), that I may not own enough dishes.

With regard to table equipment, the number of individual dishes is controlled by the size of the family, and the kind of service desired. Most housewives would choose dainty service and good style, and would prefer to have convenient dishes in adequate number and appropriate silver, even if less expensive china , and silver and glass is chosen. For such a standard, which is strongly recommended, buy twice as many of all individual dishes, glasses, and silver, as the number in the family. This makes possible entertaining with much less worry and work, and relieves one of the feeling of not having enough. It is certainly a reasonable standard to choose china, glass, and silver which is not expensive to replace and is, therefore, not a source of anxiety to the housewife.   

Source: Housewifery by L. Ray Balderston (1919)

1919 High School Lunch Menus

eight lunch menus
Source: American Cookery (October, 1919)

Does anyone like school lunches? I hear both parents and their children complain about them. According to my local school district’s website, today’s high school menu is:

Menu – October 24, 2019

Main: Italian Entree Choice
Grill: Grilled Chicken Sandwich
Salad: Italian Entree Choice

Smart Sides: Caesar Salad, Celery Sticks

But, is it worse than school lunches a hundred years? Somehow I just can’t imagine students today getting excited about Jellied Salmon.

Century-Old Advice for Giving an Awesome Toast

drawing of woman making a speech
Source: Source: Stickney & Poor advertisement, American Cookery (November, 1919)

Making a toast can be nerve-racking. And, it’s always especially stressful to decide what to say. It may be a little out of date, but here is some hundred-year-old advice:

Toasts for Dinner Occasions

Since much of the enjoyment of good toasts comes from clever local allusions, it would be difficult to make specific suggestions for dinners in general. Almost any subject, if well handled, will stimulate a good response. Such topics of current interest as the coal strike and the “wet” and “dry” issues, treated with humor and without political bias, furnish unfailing springs of interest.

Local practices and happenings, covert and complimentary allusions to the guest of honor, or to the business or profession of other prominent guests will be in order.

American Cookery (December, 1919)

The Last Fresh Vegetable Month


According to the October, 1919 issue of Good Housekeeping, October is the last fresh vegetable month:

The Last Fresh Vegetable Month

In October vegetables may still hold the post of honor on the table which is planned on a truly economical and sensible basis. By using freely and consistently what is in season, and by utilizing especially the delicious vegetable overflow, it is possible to lessen the meat bill appreciably. If we do use the abundant fresh vegetables lavishly when in season, it will make us feel more comfortable about the increased meat consumption, which the cold weather later makes necessary. The savings on meat and grocery bills when we effect by living largely on vegetables during the summer and fall will help us to balance the budget satisfactorily.  

A hundred-years-ago people apparently ate more meat in the winter than during the warmer months. I don’t think that my meat consumption varies much across the year, though I have vague childhood memories of having strawberry shortcake as the main course sometimes in June, and being told that, “We eat lighter in the summer because it’s hot.”