Mom! . . . Is it safe to come in the kitchen yet?

It being Thanksgiving week,
my thoughts have naturally turned to food.

(Okay, I admit my thoughts live there most of the time).

And the prospect of Veg-All Salad (previous post) has led to a Hinckleyville discussion of a question that I believe deserves further Small Works exploration:

Did people have taste buds
in the 1950's?

It could be possible that their taste buds

were heavily deadened by all the smoking.

Or it could be that they were drunk and giddy
with the post-war technological advances

that were modernizing their kitchen worlds at break-neck speed.

It reminds me of the scene from the Albert Brooks movie "Mother," in which his mother explains that she has been bagging up her green salads in lunch size portions and putting them in the freezer

and he says something like, "The freezer is a great invention, Mother, but it's not for EVERYTHING."

Which is exactly how I feel about jello.

In addition to things like tomato soup and shrimp jello,
the 1950's also seemed to specialize in canned meat products and the many thrifty and appealing dishes you could make by utilizing them.

I had no idea that, at any point in history, one could purchase HAMBURGERS IN A CAN (hiding there in the back row, above.)

I'm trying to figure out what that would be. . . would it come out in a gloppy pile that you would then mold into patty shapes? Would it come out in a solid meat-like cylinder that you would then slice into patty shapes?

Somehow each image I conjure
seems equally suggestive of Alpo.

And when you combine the variety meat products of the 1950's with the inability to make food photos look appealing, you end up with things like this:

Which, although it is made with regular ground meat, looks something like I would imagine hamburgers in a can would look.

Unfortunately, Aunt Lillie's love of canned meats extended well into the 1970's so I was regularly treated to fried Spam. And my mother went through a brief fling with "Underwood Deviled Ham," which I distinctly remember as being a key player in my worst lunches ever.

To be fair . . . our newspaper's Taste section last week had some Thanksgiving ideas that were 1950's-ick, if you ask me. There was a recipe for brussels sprouts with bacon and figs, for instance. Now I admittedly detest brussels sprouts, and bacon could probably only improve them.

Keep the figs out of my vegetable dishes
and only in my Newtons, s'il vous plait.

I prefer my Thanksgiving vegetables swimming in Cream of Mushroom soup and crunching with french-fried onions. Or mounded up into a giant gravy-stopping dam, a starchy vegetable engineering marvel that just barely manages to save the rest of my plate from disaster.

In my world, Thanksgiving is NOT the time for Nouvelle Cuisine. Or to coin a phrase from another movie oldie-but-goodie,

"The food's brown, hot,
and plenty of it."

But even though I am in no way an adventurous eater, I figured I may as well jump on the bandwagon and make a

Small Works Thanksgiving Menu Suggestion.

Because if one owns an extensive collection of vintage women's magazines, one probably has a responsibility to use them to research both homemaking and hospitality, lest a whole lot of swell recipes and hostess ideas just *poof!* disappear from our modern tables.

So I offer you "Thanksgiving Corn-o-Copias":

Just grab some bologna slices, slather them with mustard, stuff them full of corn and velveeta, pop them in the oven and garnish with the ubiquitous pimiento slice and parsley and you will have a Thanksgiving treat that is not only festive and delicious, but will remind you why you are glad to be eating Thanksgiving dinner this year instead of in 1952.

Happy Grocery Shopping!


luanne said...

Well I'll speak up in favor of fried spam sandwiches with ketchup and American cheese, preferably on Hollywood "diet" bread. That was my favorite childhood Sunday dinner at Grandma's (the adults ate the boring brown food).

May your Hinckley Thanksgiving be happy, relaxed (just for one day!) and Veg-All jello-free!

Allie said...

ROFL - Happy Thanksgiving, Susan! Boy do I want that American Kitchen - but I would never ever serve meals from the 50's.

Amelia and Justin said...

Jello is not for everything, but in its pure form (or with a fruit) it is definitely a welcome Thanksgiving treat.

Wish we could join you for Thanksgiving this year! Have a fun and delicious day! :)

VO said...

How did we ever survive those types of convenience foods?

I do count my blessings that my parents weren't really into casseroles with velveeta cheese and spam. Our jello salads had only fruit in them, 'cept that one time when my mom put iceberg lettuce in one. Yech.

Hope all of you have a thanksgiving day full of blessings where you only eat food that isn't marked, "Festive and colorful".

susan m hinckley said...

Ha ha, VO -- You're right! If we've learned anything from the 50's it is probably that certain food descriptions are a guarantee of yuckiness.

Happy Thanksgiving, one and all, and thanks for your kind wishes. I send them all back to you tenfold!

I'm going to the grocery store tonight and I have to admit, I'm going to have a hard time staying away from the jello aisle, if only out of perverse fascination. We'll see if jello makes it on the menu; if it does, I guarantee it will be polluted only by whipped cream.

stfrank said...

C'mon Suso, don't you remember that fabulous spam pizza on a bisquick crust created by Alison Scow? First and last time I've ever eaten spam. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! Suey T

susan m hinckley said...

Spam pizza on Bisquick crust -- boy howdy! MMM mmm good!

Actually, I had blocked out that memory but I do seem to recall it being perhaps the worst party ever. Just a cautionary tale, folks. . .

Pam said...

Happy Thanksgiving!In the late 1950's I remember my mother making ground beef, we just called it "mince" in Australia.After her hard day out in the workforce, she'd say "there's mince on toast for tea,"and we'd all groan at the thought of the grey watery offering with peas. "There's sauce?" she'd say hopefully. Even the splodge of ketchup didn't help. Great post!

susan m hinckley said...

Thanks, Pam . . . and I think "splodge" might be my new favorite word!

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