Cleaning Out the Basement–What Shall I Cook Today?

Another treasure from the St. John's Opportunity Shop that will likely head over to the Products Cookbook Collection at the National Museum of American History, via CHoW

Another treasure from the St. John’s Opportunity Shop, likely to head over to the Product Cookbook Collection at the National Museum of American History, via CHoW

Spry was a vegetable shortening, says Wikipedia, first manufactured in 1936, and meant to compete with Crisco. Kind of like Hydrox was to the king of all cookies–the Oreo.

Today, when we value natural, organic, artisanal, and local, cooking with a  colorless paste, cranked out by a soap company is hardly appealing. But for cooks who dealt with spoilage, idiosyncratic shopkeepers, and unsanitary packaging, Spry and its big brother Crisco had the appeal of reliability. The same appeal of McDonald’s and shrink-wrapped, boneless, skinless chicken breasts at your supermarket.

The pamphlet advertises that Spry “Keeps Sweet on the Pantry Shelf,” but we know anything creamy that keeps on a shelf is bound to be bad for you. It reminds you that “Spry’s Superior Quality Never Varies,” just like a manufactured hamburger. And finally,  it’s “the Most ECONOMICAL.” Well, we all like cheap food–see hamburger mentioned above–never mind the environmental impacts of producing it.

Of course, this pamphlet starts out with Deep Frying and moves through shallow frying, sautéing, pie crusts, cakes, frostings, and breads. And there are some nice recipes here–though you can’t make Orange Tea Doughnuts, Celery Fritters, Ham and Egg Pie, or a Crimple Crust Chicken Pie with Spry anymore, which was phased out in the 1950s. We don’t eat like this much anymore–the closest these recipes get to vegetables are Fried Onions or French Fries.

And in another retro position–this is clearly women’s work and women’s decision. Who wouldn’t want a mannequin-like White man complementing you on your fried chicken. And be careful not to dip that pussy-bow blouse into the fryolator!





About Appetite for Books

read, cook, eat, repeat
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