Food I’m Pretty Sure You Never Thought Of

First of all, let me say that I am not ignoring the recent string of terrible events, but unlike all the “experts,” I believe that it’s okay not to know what to say about them.  I don’t feel qualified or compelled to hand out opinions and advice.  So I do my volunteer work, count my blessings, write my emails to my representatives, learn things, and share bright moments.  I hope you will find this post to be a bright moment in your day.

As I go through our family archives, I am finding plenty of items related to food, some of them a little unusual.

This family kept all of the children’s school work.  Here is a public health poster from about 1937.  I like the way it looks like our model student, my future father-in-law, didn’t quite put his usual effort into this poster.  He just slapped on two pictures and spent all his time coloring in the letters.

But, being a typical boy, he did find a way to incorporate guards and weapons.

“Milk is guarded all the way to your home,” c. 1937.

The cow is Carnation Ormsby Butter King, the World’s Champion Cow, on exhibition at the Texas Centennial Exposition in Dallas, October of 1936.  (I have no idea why someone would name a cow “King” instead of “Queen.”)

The concept of a turreted armored car to carry milk around is bizarre.  My own grandfather was a milkman, and I know that his real milk delivery “men” were my dad and his brother, at about 5 or 6 years of age, placing the milk on doorsteps every morning before school.

Milk guards, c. 1937. How do those milk bottles stay neatly lined up on the shelves when the wagon moves? And wouldn’t an armored car be too heavy for one horse to pull?

My husband says he vaguely remembers something about milkmen starting to wear military-type uniforms at this time, to build up public confidence in milk.  I have found some stories about fears over milk from tubercular cows in the 1920s, but I have not been able to find a particular milk scare around the middle ’30s, so I don’t know what prompted this campaign.

Okay, this next one has got to be the weirdest item in all the many boxes.

“Zippered Chicken” Meat Merchandising magazine from 1940.

This is a marketing magazine for meat retailers.  Why we have this, I have no idea.  Three generations back, one ancestor did own a store, but he had died a decade before this was published.  And normally, if someone subscribed to a magazine, they kept years’ worth of issues.  We have just this one lone issue.

Inside the magazine, we learn that the Zippered Chicken is meant to catch customers’ eyes.  This paragraph befuddles me:  “A zippered chicken is designed primarily to keep the stuffing from tumbling out.  However, this particular capon was cut open wider than would ordinarily be needed to secure better picture effect and to make the zipper more apparent.”

Explanation of Zippered Chicken marketing ploy.

This doesn’t clear up anything at all!  Was such a thing actually sold?  It seems like a zipper right there would actually cause the stuffing to tumble out.  I am just as confused as I was before I read the article.  And Googling “Zippered Chicken” just gets you a bunch of ads for handbags shaped like chickens.

In the same issue, there is a story about a Lucky Elephant display.

Vegetable Elephant, from 1940 Meat Merchandising magazine.

“Scholl tells us that all sorts of amusing and interesting displays can be built around this elephant.”  I’m getting a vision of the original potato elephant just standing there, shriveling on its carrot legs as the weeks fly by, while the other parts of the display change around it — bell pepper palm trees on celery stalks, morphing into cabbage cars on bridges made of uncooked spaghetti stuck into cherry tomatoes, morphing into a watermelon mountain with a kale forest…

This next item does not give the exact year, but I am guessing 1942.  It is from a meat packing company, explaining that deliveries will have to be cut back, to save equipment and tires.  I like #3 — “No truck may call at the same place of business more than once during any one day.”  That just seems like common sense, not a wartime hardship.

WWII era letter explaining delivery reductions.

Family members didn’t systematically collect things pertaining to the war, so I don’t know why this was saved, but I think it shows a good example of rationing.

Going ahead in time, we get a fun recipe from 1951, for “Colorvision Cake.”  Maybe you couldn’t afford a television, must less a color set, but your cake could be colorful if only you added some Jell-o to the mix!

Colorvision Cake recipe from 1951.

I wonder if anyone added multiple flavors of gelatin and got a muddy mess instead of a nice bright color.

Last we have a little recipe booklet from Sealtest.  It’s undated but since it was trying to trick all those baby boomer kids into eating cottage cheese by disguising it as fun things like drums and clowns, I would guess it’s from the late ’50s or early ’60s.  This recipe is supposed to look like the Big Top, but it looks like a crab to me.  The animal crackers in front look like claws.

Circus Salads from Sealtest.

So!  Armored-car Milk, Zippered Chicken, Potato Elephant, Big Top Salad, Colorvision Cake!  I think I’ve just provided you with a whole menu and plenty of dinner conversation topics to boot!  Bon Appetit!