It’s been a long time since I updated here, though I would like to work on it again sometime. Anyway, I discovered today that the WordPress theme had completely broken, so I set the blog back up with a new theme. Because of this, there are going to be some weirdnesses here and there — formatting issues and such. Please forgive the dust. Thanks!
This lithograph dates to 1918. The Boston Public Library, who kindly posted this on their Flickr feed, note that corn stepped in during WWI to substitute for wheat and sugar, which were both rationed.
Now rationing is long over, but corn products are more plentiful than ever in the American diet.
The Northwest is beginning to stir, however. The Crescent Manufacturing Company changed the needle on the victrola when it demonstrated that Mapleine was desired by national retailers as soon as they learned of it through the national advertising campaigns started twelve years ago. In 1910 Mapleine advertisements appeared in Good Housekeeping, The Designer, Women’s Home Companion, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Ladies World. Carnation Milk used a loud toned needle, and became a national product about the same time.
— “Advertising Matters,” The Washington Newspaper, May 1923.
In Part 1 of our series about Mapleine, I gave you some of the background of the product and the Crescent Manufacturing Company’s battle with the US government over labeling. After they made a deal with the Feds that allowed them to keep using the name Mapleine, there was no holding them back. As the above quote indicates, they started advertising nationally, and Mapleine took off.
The first part of the 20th century saw two World Wars and a Great Depression. A product that allowed homemakers, campers, and all other maple fans to make syrup that tasted good but was much cheaper than true maple was perfect for the times, and Crescent made darned sure everyone knew it.
In the early 1910s Mapleine was promoted as “The Flavor De Luxe.” Ads, then and later, often featured recipes. Here’s a 1912 ad from Literary Digest with a simple recipe for cake filling.
Mapleine Cake Filling
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup milk
- walnut-sized piece butter
- 1 teaspoon Mapleine
Mix sugar, milk and butter together
Boil for five minutes
Take from fire and stir until thick.
Then add the Mapleine, stirring it slowly.
It’s June, which means that it’s strawberry season! (Well, usually it is. This year, the Northwest weather has been unusually cold, and so I bet the strawberries are running late.) If it’s strawberry season, it’s time for a strawberry festival, with some strawberry recipes and menu ideas!
110 years ago in June 1901, Good Housekeeping published “XXth Century Festivals: The Strawberry Festival,” suggesting that festivals should be held on a moonlit evening and furnished with tables with fine white linen tablecloths and fern decorations. The dishes should be strawberry red, green, and white.
The suggested centerpiece (which “should have a place of honor”) sounds quite lovely for a summer twilight party:
“In a conspicuous place set a table holding a glass bowl of strawberry frappe or lemonade, to be served in small glass cups. A block of ice hollowed out, with a lighted pink candle inside, may be put in the center of the bowl, and the frappe heaped around the ice, insuring coolness. Decorate the table with strawberry vines or ferns, and have two white-robed maidens to serve the frappe.”
Here is the recipe given a few pages later for the frappe:
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- Juice of 6 lemons
- 4 cups mashed fresh strawberries
The following recipe makes a very delicate frappe. Boil for fifteen minutes four cups of water and two cups of sugar, add to it the juice of six lemons and four cups of mashed fresh strawberries or one quart of the canned fruit.
Allow it to cool, strain and add one quart of ice water.
Freeze to a mush, using equal parts of ice and salt.
If you use canned fruit which is very sweet the frappe may not require so much sugar.
Good Housekeeping‘s suggested menu for the event might be slightly different from a modern menu, but not terribly so:
STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL MENU
Cold ham / Cold tongue / Rolls
Saratoga potatoes / Tomato salad / Crackers
Pickles / Radishes / Pimolas
Individual sweet shortcakes / Strawberries and cream
Strawberry ice cream / Strawberry eclairs
Sponge cake / Angel cake / Small cakes
Coffee / Chocolate
The magazine also provided some recipes for cakes and preserves to sell at the festival. Here is one example:
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1/4 cup butter
- A speck salt
- 1 cup flour
- 4 eggs
- sweetened strawberries or jam
- boiled icing colored with strawberry juice
Boil together in a saucepan one cupful of boiling water, one-fourth cupful of butter, and a speck of salt.
As it begins to boil stir in one cupful of sifted flour.
Stir constantly until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan and cleaves together in a ball.
When partly cool add four eggs, beating them in one at a time.
Drop carefully in long narrow strips, some distance apart, on buttered tins, and bake in a moderate oven until well risen---about thirty minutes.
Leave the oven door open a few minutes before removing the eclairs, to prevent their falling.
When they are cool split one side, fill with sweetened strawberries or jam.
Spread with boiled icing colored with strawberry juice.
I plan to try this one and will report back.
(Editorial note 1: Pimolas appear to be what we’d probably call pimientos today — olives stuffed with sweet peppers. Perhaps the word is a portmanteau of “pimiento-olives”? Many menus of that period list them as “pim-olas.”)
(Editorial note 2: The formatting of the recipes is intended to be compatible with Google’s new Recipe View system. Though the formatting is slightly different than the 1901 original, the wording of the recipe instructions is unchanged.)
Don’t worry, parts 2 and 3 of “Oh, Mapleine!” are coming soon. But I found a couple more things that I thought would be of interest, and didn’t want to wait to post them.
Last year I posted about the cookbook Mexican Cookery for American Homes (1936 edition), and later tried a recipe from the book for “Enchiladas, Mexican Style” that turned out to be excellent.
Flickr user Eudaemonius has posted a complete version of the 1932 edition of the same cookbook. It is much more colorful and flamboyant in design than the 1936 copy I have—mine, perhaps, reflects a bit more Depression-era austerity. It doesn’t include the bilingual titles that the later edition contained. The 1932 copy also does not contain all of the recipes. It may be shorter (I can’t find mine to double-check at the moment), but it definitely doesn’t include the stacked enchiladas I made from the other book. It does have recipes such as “Mexican Rarebit,” “Chili and Rice Cones,” and “Mexican Chop Suey.”
Yes, you read that correctly. Here you go!
MEXICAN CHOP SUEY
- 4 T. butter
- 2 small onions, chopped
- 3 pieces celery, chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 1 lb. hamburger
- 1 No. 1 can tomato puree
- 1 t. salt
- 1 No. 2 can Gebhardt's Spaghetti
Cook onions, celery and green pepper in butter until tender; add hamburger and continue cooking until partially done.
Add tomato puree, salt and simmer until meat is tender.
Turn into a greased casserole, cover with contents of No. 2 can Gebhardt's Spaghetti and Chili and bake in moderate oven 20 min.
Mexican? Probably not so much. But it reminds me of some of the casseroles my mom cooked in the 1970s.
One other site I wanted to point you to is La Cocina Historica, a project of the University of Texas at San Antonio Special Collections Department. The blog features recipes from the university’s Mexican Cookbook Collection. They have more than 900 Mexican, Texan, and Southwestern cookbooks in Spanish and English, dating from 1789-2010. The collection includes printed cookbooks and also handwritten manuscripts. The bloggers (multiple people contribute to the site) try out the recipes and describe how they turned out.
I think “Huevos al Estilo EspaÃ±ol” (1908) sounds lovely, but that’s probably because it’s pretty close to my breakfast burrito recipe already. I’d just mix up that filling and wrap it in tortillas.
(Editorial note: This post was changed slightly on May 17, 2011 to include new recipe formatting to be compatible with Google’s Recipe View system.)
Imitation flavorings tend to be frowned upon these days, or, at least, not respected very much. No one wants “chocolate-flavored” candy if they can have real chocolate instead. But there is one imitation flavor that is commonly eaten without complaint in the US and Canada — maple.
The “maple” syrup that most people have on their pancakes and waffles isn’t made of maple at all. (In the US, if the label calls it “maple syrup,” it’s supposed to be 100% pure maple. But the majority of syrup sold in grocery stores is plain old “pancake syrup,” and that’s the artificial stuff.) It tastes reasonably similar to maple syrup, and it’s fine for what it is, but it’s still an imitation. Most grocery store pancake syrups, as you can see here on the Aunt Jemima website, are corn syrup with added colorings, preservatives, and natural and artificial flavorings.
Throughout the 20th century, however, many homemakers made a much simpler artificial maple syrup with only three ingredients: granulated sugar, water, and the flavor extract Mapleine.
Mapleine was (and is) a product of the Crescent Manufacturing Company in my hometown of Seattle, Washington. In 1905, a Crescent chemist invented Mapleine, “a wholesome, vegetable extract, made from roots and herbs” (according to a 1906 ad in The Pacific Monthly, pictured on the right). The formula has always been secret, but a modern Mapleine package lists the following ingredients: “Water, natural flavorings, caramel color, alcohol (7%), phosphoric acid, vanillin, and sulfiting agents.”
In the product’s early years, Crescent did not (perhaps) communicate quite as well as they could have that Mapleine was, in fact, not maple at all. For example, the package pictured in the Pacific Monthly ad features a large maple leaf in the design, and does not mention at all on the front that the flavor is not real maple. One of the earliest ads for Mapleine, from a 1905 issue of The Pacific Monthly, calls it “The new Maple Sap,” with no mention of its artificial nature.
The United States government took issue with Crescent’s packaging, and in 1909, the case of The United States of America vs. 300 Cases of “Mapleine” ended up in court. The government charged that the cases were illegally labeled “Crescent Mapleine” on the outside, and that those words would indicate that the product contained maple. Crescent contended that the labeling on the cartons and bottles inside the cases, which stated “Mapleine, a Vegetable Product Producing a Flavor Similar to Maple,” should be taken into consideration. (This defense of Mapleine from a local Seattle perspective, from a 1909 issue of The Coast, is interesting reading.)
A jury found Crescent guilty of misbranding, after which the company reached an agreement with the government that the name “Mapleine” could continue to be used, as long as all labeling was modified to plainly show that the product was an imitation maple flavor. The modifications were made, and Mapleine stayed on the market.
This 1908 ad, published during the same month in which those 300 cases of Mapleine were seized in Chicago on the charge of misbranding, shows that Crescent was already taking pains to clearly label the bottles and ads. The ad leads with the not particularly enticing paragraph “Mapleine has nothing to do with maple syrup—except the flavor. Neither is it a substitute or even an imitation of maple syrup but an original flavoring with the Genuine Maple Flavor.” The bottle pictured now contains a clear disclaimer.
In 1909, Crescent hosted a large Mapleine display at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle, and described Mapleine, perhaps with a bit of exaggeration, as a “household word” that “spread the fame of Seattle throughout the Western hemisphere.” The booth at the A.Y.P., standing between booths for Carnation Milk (also a local product, at the time, but currently owned by Nestle) and Jell-O, was proudly marked “Seattle, Wash.” in large letters.* Mapleine is still sold today, but Crescent was sold to McCormick and Company, Inc. of Baltimore, Maryland in 1989, and Mapleine no longer promotes Seattle on its packaging.
In the next few decades, wartime and depression frugality—along with a lot of advertising and recipe booklets from Crescent—caused Mapleine to grow even more popular. In Part 2 of this series, I’ll post advertising and recipes from Mapleine’s heyday; in Part 3, I’ll make a Mapleine Pie.
*(Editorial note added after this post was published.) On further examination of the picture, it seems possible that the “Seattle, Wash.” lettering on the booth was added to the photo after retouching. However, I cannot be certain of this. The University of Washington has a photo of the same booth, but not only has that area of the booth been clearly retouched in the UW copy, but there are some other small differences that make it seem likely the photos were taken at different times, so the UW photo does not necessarily confirm anything.
I have a certain interest in old recipes for sundaes and sodas from the soda fountain era. Along with the familiar chocolate sundaes and banana splits that we still find in today’s restaurants, you find more unusual confections such as a Rose Bud Sundae with rose dressing, a Grape Sundae Malted with grape juice and malted milk, and a Fruited Creme de Menthe Salad with lettuce leaves, vanilla ice cream, fruit salad, and creme de menthe syrup.
The above are a bit unusual to modern tastes, but they don’t seem all that strange, really. (Or maybe I’m just too used to browsing old cookbooks.) But then, I came across this soda recipe in The Standard Manual of Soda and Other Beverages, 1897:
- Clam juice, 1 1/2 fl. oz.
- Milk, cold, 2 fl. oz.
- Carbonated water, coarse stream, sufficient to fill an 8-ounce glass
Add a pinch of salt and a small amount of powdered white pepper to each glass.
Obviously this is not a sweet dessert. Anyone dare to try it and report back? I don’t think I can do it.
I have seen quite a few recipes for hot drinks with clam bouillon, milk or cream, and hot water (see the old ad below), and that doesn’t seem as weird—it just seems like soup. But the cold, carbonated clam soda?
The above recipe is from Modern Housekeeping, December 1905. You may find it hard to read. Here’s what it includes:
Oysters on Half Shell Lemon Slices
Clear Soup Bread Sticks
Baked Red Snapper, Parsley Sauce
Roast Goose, Apple Sauce
Riced Potatoes Boiled Parsnips
Roast Haunch of Venison
Plum Pudding, Hard Sauce
Peach Ice Cream in Sticks
In December 1901, American Kitchen magazine provided four separate menus for Christmas dinner. Raw oysters, Lobster Newburg and Broiled Quail are included alongside the roast turkey we are more familiar with at Christmas today. Here they are, formatted as they were in the magazine:
CHICKEN CONSOMME. SALTED ALMONDS.
BROILED QUAIL. MUSHROOM SAUCE.
ROAST GOOSE. CHESTNUT STUFFING.
APPLE SALAD. SWEET POTATO CROQUETTES.
MARLBORO PIE. NUTS. RAISINS.
CELERY. OLIVES. BROWNED WAFERS.
ONION STUFFING. ROAST GOOSE. APPLE SAUCE.
GLAZED SWEET POTATOES. TURNIPS.
APPLE AND CELERY SALAD.
PLUM PUDDING. MINCE PIE.
LEMON JELLY. LEMON QUEEN CAKES.
NUTS. DATES. COFFEE.
JULIENNE SOUP. CELERY.
ROAST PIG. STUFFED POTATOES. ONIONS.
BOILED TURKEY. POTATO CROQUETTES.
WAFERS. LETTUCE SALAD. CHEESE.
NEAPOLITAN CREAM. CAKE.
CONSOMME. ROLLS. CELERY. OLIVES.
ROAST TURKEY. MASHED POTATOES.
SQUASH. ONIONS. BROWNED SWEET POTATOES.
TUTTI FRUTTI. CRANBERRY JELLY.
MINCE PIE. PLUM PUDDING.
GRAPES. FIGS. DATES.
Lastly, vegetarianism is not new. Meatless Cookery by Maria McIlvaine Gillmore was published in 1914, and includes several holiday menus, such as:
Salpicon of Fruit
Tomato Bisque Rice Biscuit
Radishes Pine Nuts Ripe Olives
Curried Vegetables Sauce Diced Cucumbers
Potatoes Ã la MaÃ®tre d HÃ´tel
Spanish Onions Cranberry Sauce
Apple and Celery Salad Wafers
Caramel Ice Cream Assorted Fruit Creamed Cheese on Wafers
Perhaps some of these menus will inspire you to add old-style Christmas food to your holiday meals this year.
Browsing through Google Books (something I spend far too much time doing), I stumbled on an interesting article from a 1914 issue of American Cookery. At the time, World War I had newly broken out in Europe, but the United States remained officially neutral.
In this article, an American family declares war on expensive imported foods and converts the previous year’s Christmas menu to an American-grown feast for 1914. Consistent with the nation’s stand of neutrality, all traces of foreign content are removed, even the English plum pudding and the French word “menu.” But even in 1914, Americans couldn’t do without their coffee.
Censoring the Christmas Dinner
By Stella Burke May, American Cookery, December 1914
A state of war existed in the hitherto peaceful household of the American John Smith, for Mrs. John Smith, generalissimo of the kitchen, had declared war on foreign food products.
Among the causes which led to this declaration were, first; that the Smith household was being constantly menaced by the air fleet of Imported Products, which had dropped a High-Cost-Of-Living bomb on its commissary department, and second; that foreign invasion, during the past twelve months, had well-nigh wrecked the John Smith treasury.
In proof of this latter accusation, Mrs. Smith produced her Christmas menu from the previous year, which showed the foreign element in strong supremacy.
Feeling the need of support from a strong ally, she called her husband from his evening newspaper, and showed him the line-up of his last year’s Yuletide dinner.
“Shades of the Father of His Country,” exclaimed John as he glanced over the card. “No wonder they had war in Europe!”
This is what he read:Christmas Dinner, 1913
Salted Wafers Celery Spanish Olives
Broiled Smelts Maitre d’hÃ´tel butter
Roast Turkey Plain Dressing Duchesse Potatoes
Buttered Brussels Sprouts
French Peas Creamed Onions Cranberry FrappÃ©
Chinese Celery Prune, Apple-and-Nut Salad
English Plum Pudding Hard Sauce
Mandarin Oranges English Walnuts Malaga Grapes
So, even as the European press censor, pencil in hand, goes over his war dispatches, deleting a word here, a phrase there, lest his own particular country appear at a disadvantage or the enemy profit by the context, did Mrs. John Smith go over her Christmas bill of fare, eliding every foreign combination and condiment, and steering clear of the high C’s of yester-year such as “canapÃ©s, consommÃ©s and cafÃ©s,” this American censor effaced all evidence of foreign domination, and launched her transport upon neutral waters from cocktail to coffee.
With patriotism coupled with ingenuity, she set herself to the task of preparing a dinner that might stand uncovered as the flag goes by.
“I will avoid even the appearance of partizanship (sic),” she told herself, “and not even call this a menu. It shall be a bill-of-fare this year.”
“And there must be no foreign flavor, no paprika, no French or Italian olive oil in the salad, no imported wines or brandies.”
They both agreed that a canapÃ© was decidedly contraband, and while it might serve if disguised under the title of “appetizer,” felt that Baltimore oysters served on their native shell, with Iowa horseradish, Oklahoma catsup, and thin slices of California lemon would be in strict neutrality.
The consommÃ© must become a soup; not even a bouillon, but a plain vegetable soup, and asparagus seemed to meet all the maritime laws.
If the market afforded fresh radishes, they would be added to the soup course, but in no event would Spanish olives pass muster. In fact all “hors d’oeuvres” were now “hors de combat.”
The fish course was abandoned as an extravagance, since oysters were to open the meal, so the maitre d’hÃ´tel butter was thus disposed of.
“How would it be to buy the turkey on the ‘hoof’ this year?” queried her husband. “I will kill and dry-pick it and you can hang it in the refrigerator for a couple of days before Christmas.”
“Turkey! Turkey!” exclaimed his wife in supreme astonishment. “Why, John Smith, we’re not going to have a fowl with a foreign name like that. We’re to have roast goose, with chestnut stuffing.”
For the main course, then, it would be roast goose, with chestnut stuffing and potatoes.
“Remember,” cautioned John, “there will be no vegetable with a foreign name like Irish potatoes.” So avoiding the belligerent waters in which sailed “‘potatoes a la Hollandaise,’ French fried, German fried, au gratin, O’Brien, Hongroise” she landed at sweet potatoes, Southern style, and added this to her card.
Brussels sprouts came under the same indictment. “I always have thought Brussels sprouts are just sort of ‘babes-in-the-wood’ cabbages that lost their way, so I think we will just have creamed cabbage and be done with it.”
“Onions ought to pass without an investigation,” John said, as he watched her writing “baked onions,” “but be sure they’re not Bermudas and have no foreign flavor.”
Next, cranberry frappÃ© was shorn of its alien looks and appeared in homespun as “cranberry jelly moulded,” and the understanding was that they were to be Wisconsin grown.
Small light rolls made with Minneapolis flour would be served with the meat course.
The salad course was quickly disposed of. Following the dinner of the previous year, she chose a salad of apples, celery-and-walnuts in heart lettuce cups. She would insist on New York Jonathan apples, Michigan celery, Illinois walnuts and Florida lettuce, served with a cream dressing. In place of the Neufchatel cheese, she would serve cottage cheese spread between thin slices of brown bread, along with the salad. The “yellow peril” celery was, of course, taboo.
“I don’t see why they always have English plum pudding, when New England minced pie contains all the ‘stuff that dreams are made of,'” said John, and, his Commissary General agreeing with him, resolved to have New England minced pie with frozen pudding.
For nuts she selected Georgia paper-shell pecans. These, with Florida tangerine oranges and California raisins would seem sufficiently “censored.”
And, lastly, of course, coffee in half cups, with Louisiana cut-loaf sugar and home-grown cream. She realized she must call upon her neighbors in South America for the coffee, but they both agreed that Brazil coffee in a Connecticut percolator should pass the most captious critic.
Assembling her national dinner, this was what she produced:Christmas Dinner, 1914.
Baltimore Oysters on Half Shell
Served with horseradish, catsup and thin sliced lemon
Salted Wafers Fresh Radishes
Alabama Sweet Potatoes, Southern Style
Baked Onions Creamed Cabbage
Cranberry Jelly in Moulds
Small Light Rolls
Apple-Celery-Walnut Salad in Heart Lettuce Cups
Brown Bread-and-Cottage Cheese Sandwiches
New England Minced Pie
Florida Tangerines Georgia Paper Shelled Pecans California Raisins
Half Cups of Coffee
Louisiana Sugar Cream
So, stripped of her foreign garments, and clothed in a brand new gown with a fine domestic finish, we behold the American Christmas dinner for the Americans at home, and while we greet our guests, the American John Smith will insert a new needle and start “The Star Spangled Banner.”
American Cookery may not have taken this very seriously. The recipes they provide later in the issue contain many of the verboten foreign flavors.
(Want to see a few more Christmas menus? Stay tuned. I’ll post some more later today.)