Archive for Companies & Advertising

Betty…Rosie…Please Meet My Dear Friend – Diana Prince

Betty Crocker and Rosie the Riveter held their own as fictional female super heroines of WWII. But, let’s not forget Wonder Woman who made her debut in 1941.

 

Prior to television, media entertainment consisted of radio shows, newspapers, and comic books. The latter being sold at a rate of 15 million a month. Rationed supplies of paper and war production make it difficult to document how comic book sales held during the war, but it is no accident that their continued popularity led to the introduction of a women super hero who fought war with love instead of violence.

 

Created in a time when women were increasingly asked to take on some male roles — factory work, wearing pants, holding down the home front, etc. William Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman, based a character on his own wife, Elizabeth, who was ahead of her time in regards to what was socially acceptable for women.

 

While women were not encouraged to earn a degree, Elizabeth held three. She was an attorney and a Harvard-graduated psychologist. Elizabeth was on the front lines of women’s liberation, specifically on voting equality and reproduction rights. Her husband’s motivation behind creating the comic heroine in 1941 was to influence the public into accepting a new independent woman. Wonder Woman was incredibly capable, yet beautiful, kind and still feminine.

 

Wonder Woman was quickly met with resistance, dressed in her short skirt and a revealing top that had no straps. She was deemed, “insufficiently dressed”. It took roughly a year for the creator of Wonder Woman to come forward. The public outcry of indecency was met with the identity of an internationally famous psychologist (William and Elizabeth had met at Harvard pursuing their psychology degrees). And it was good that Wonder Woman’s creator was a psychologist as the skeptical crowd needed to hear that such a heroine was not a bad thing.

 

Dr. Marston was pushed to explain how the character was not a detriment to public decency and young minds. As Marston once put it, “Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who, I believe, should rule the world.”

 

As her acceptance and popularity grew, so did the team responsible for making Diana Prince…err, Wonder Woman, who she is today.  Dr. Marston died in 1947, but Wonder Woman and her fight for peace continued under the creative mind of Joyce Hummel who was only 18 years old in 1944 when she was hired to write the comic strip.

 

Even though Wonder Woman was created before the US entered WWII, influences from the conflict and Hummel’s young age during the war play a huge role on the core values of Wonder Woman’s story. The original outfit was American patriotic, of course – blue with white stars, red top. Pin-up poses are reminiscent of nose art on a bomber.

Oh…one more thing, Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth?  It turns out Dr. Marston is the original inventor of the lie detector.  Photos of the prototype device show test subjects wrapped in wires that measure pulse and blood pressure.  Wires…closely resembling a truth lasso of sorts.

 

 

Source:  http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/origin-story-wonder-woman-180952710/#p3A6sfvzRTReOGyi.99

Vintage Lemonade Like Great, Great, Great Grandma Used to Make

Here is a sad fact: the powdered concoctions found in the drink mix aisle labeled as “lemonade” are not real. Not even close. And for anyone who has never had a true and genuine glass of lemonade, I worry that life may pass by without ever having a real, honest-to-goodness glass of genuine lemonade.

 

As I pour myself a second glass of vintage lemonade, I think about what it must have been like when my great-grandmother tasted her first sip of the fake stuff. I bet they thought the fad would never catch on. Certainly people would not be satisfied with the missing flavor of the powder, nor would they ever believe it could be passed off as good.

 

Sadly, convenience won out and we’re likely on to a fourth generation of kids not knowing what lemonade is supposed to taste like.

Kool-Aid® may be considered by soKool-Aid 1940sme to be vintage. Invented in 1927 by Edwin Perkins in Hastings, Nebraska, (more specifically in his mother’s kitchen until 1931 when he moved to Chicago), the mix was introduced in six flavors: cherry, grape, lemon-lime, orange, raspberry and strawberry. The popularity of the drink mix didn’t explode until 1953 when Hastings sold the product to General Mills and “Oh Yeah” Kool-Aid Man® became the spokesperson. Now manufactured in Mexico, the mix is also good for temporarily dying hair to match the fake colors found in the packet.

 

No better, Countrytime Lemonade® was introduced in 1975, by the same parent company as Kool-Aid®. It appealed to many as a more grown-up image for adults who didn’t drink buy their lemonade from a talking pitcher of sugar water.

 

Enough about the fake stuff. Let’s move on to the good stuff. Yes, it takes time. Yes, your counter will end up a sticky mess before you’re through with the straining and pouring. But, you won’t even remember all that once you take your first wonderful sip.

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5 Lemons

1 ¼ Cup White Sugar

1 ¼ Quarts Water (38 ounces)

 

Peel the rinds from the lemons and cut them into ½ inch slices and place in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the sugar over them. Let stand for about one hour.

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Bring water to boil in a covered saucepan and then remove from heat. Add sugared rinds to the hot water. Allow this mixture to cool for 20 minutes. Remove rinds.

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Squeeze the lemons into another bowl and then strain to remove seeds.

 

Pour lemon juice into sugar mixture and then pour all into a glass pitcher.

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Waste Not.

Stop WasteAn overriding value of the WWII project is about avoiding waste. Whether the value was learned through the years of The Great Depression, or through government facilitation, it has always been clear to me that people alive during WWII were conscious about waste. Their efforts made them selfless in our minds and to them each following generation seems indulgent and living with a growing sense of entitlement.

 

About waste in general, I turned to a valuable timeline found on the Association of Science – Technology Centers site.

 

1927: John M. Hammes, an architect in Racine, Wisconsin invents the InSinkErator® food disposer in his basement. It is patented in 1935, a year when only 52 models sold.

 

Why is that important, you may ask. Well…think about it. 52 garbage disposals installed; do you know of any modern homes without a disposal these days?

 

There was a real problem at the company ten years later, as their salesforce was still trying to figure out how to sell disposers. They just weren’t necessary for the small amount of kitchen waste produced.

 

After WWII though, 18 competitors of InSinkErator arrived on the scene. Times were changing.

 

In the early 1900s, Americans were estimated to waste 80-100 pounds of food per year, per person. Can you believe we are now tossing 20 pounds per person, per month? That’s 100 pounds in 1900, 240 pounds in 2015.

What has made this change? Availability. Convenience.

Convenience came in the form of several inventions:

1914 – Wax Paper

1928 – Cellophane

1929 – Aluminum Foil

1930 – Plastic (polyvinyl chloride) and polystyrene

1937 – Nylon, the world’s first synthetic fiber

Waste Fat

Before such inventions, we were only able to take what we could eat. We weren’t able to store food easily so we better judged what we really needed. I can give an example. Today I reluctantly tossed out a half full clamshell of grape tomatoes to the compost that had gone beyond their safe ripeness. I don’t do this absent-mindedly. I think about what I did that led to such waste. I realized it’s about size and portions (the American way!). The clamshell held about a 1 ½ pounds of grape tomatoes — roughly 60 of them. Realistically, there’s no way we would have eaten that many grape tomatoes. We have learned to buy for size, without thinking if it’s really what we need…value is in the bigger package, right Sam’s Club and Costco?

 

Speaking of packaging, I’m having trouble with the local grocers. They have a real problem with me not allowing them to wrap household items in plastic before putting in my bags with my other items. Never mind the fact that most of what we buy is wrapped in heavy plastic, slid inside a cardboard box. In the case of most household items (shampoo, soap, moisturizer, cleaning supplies), that are put on our bodies or countertops where we serve food, what is the problem if it comes near my food on its way home from the store?

Waste Paper

Anyway…back to waste. In 1947, J. Gordon Lippincott, an Industrial Designer of the time, made a comment on an observation he had made: “Our willingness to part with something before it is completely worn out is a phenomenon noticeable in no other society in history. It is soundly based on our economy of abundance. It must be further nurtured even though it runs contrary to one of the oldest inbred laws of humanity – the law of thrift.”  That said in 1947, long, long before Apple phones are replaced every two years for the newer version with cooler features! Mr. Lippincott was actually referring to inventions such as disposable Bic pens and disposable Gillette razors. This type of waste just didn’t make sense.

 

Sadly, things only became worse as Americans became increasingly focused on consumerism.

 

1953: The American economy’s “ultimate purpose is to produce more consumer goods”. – Chairman of President Eisenhower’s Council of Economic Advisors.

 

“It is our job to make women unhappy with what they have.” – B. Earl Puckett, Allied Stores Corp.

 

1991: “Our economy is such that we cannot “afford” to take care of things: labor is expensive, time is expensive, money is expensive, but materials — the stuff of creation — are so cheap that we cannot afford to take care of them.” – Wendell Berry

 

1993: “We’re reminded a hundred times a day to buy things, but we’re not reminded to take care of them, repair them, reuse them, or give them away.” – Michael Jacobson, Center for the Study of Commercialism

 

By latest claims, Americans throw out 230,000,000 tons of trash (4.6 pounds per day) per person annually. Less than ¼ of that amount is recycled.

 

And back to food waste — it’s too much. 20 pounds per person, each month of food. Roughly 15% – 20% of what we buy we throw out.

 

Think about the additional waste of resources involved. According to author and food waste expert Jonathan Bloom, food waste is not just a moral issue, but also an environmental issue. “A tremendous amount of resources go into growing our food, processing, shipping, cooling and cooking it,” said Bloom. “Our food waste could represent as much as six percent of U.S. energy consumption.”

 

It comes down to winning the modern war against overabundance and consumerism.

 

Stores overstock. If the shelves or produce displays look empty we think there is something wrong with what’s left. No one wants to take the last head of broccoli.

 

Any produce slightly subpar is tossed before it even goes to market. The USDA standards of grading produce puts a farmer at loss. If something is a Grade 2, two-thirds of its market value is lost, even though taste and freshness is identical to a Grade 1. It’s all about aesthetics.

 

91% of consumers have tossed food for the reason it is past its ‘sell date’. There are no USDA health or safety standards on food expiration (except in the case of baby formula). The dates you see on food in a store is determined by manufacturer — someone who would have an interest in you tossing to buy again.

 

So, here we are in 2015…70 years since WWII and the food rules. ‘Living Green’ is popular…reduce, reuse, recycle feels like a hip concept to us. Don’t be fooled. The trend was a way of life, not a trend, until the end of WWII and we’re not even close to mastering it the way our grandparents did. This is one of those lessons we must hold on to.

 

Don’t buy more than you need. Use what you buy. Reuse or recycle what’s left of packaging, if you can’t avoid packaging completely. Or, as they use to say – Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, or Do Without!

Food Waste

We Interrupt This Program…

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For those who could afford one before the war started (production factories were converted to war production), radios served as important fixtures of the home front house. Styled more like furniture, and called “consoles”, you’d find one in a prominent place of the home within hearing range of the kitchen.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous “Infamy” speech was delivered through radio waves and it’s easy to picture every home in America tuned in with family and neighbors gathered around. The news of the bombing at Pearl Harbor and the speech land radio an earned spot of WWII history.

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan….

“I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again….

“With confidence in our armed forces—with the unbounded determination of our people—we will gain the inevitable triumph—so help us God….”

FDR continued Fireside Chat radio broadcasts focused on rallying the country throughout the war.

“We are now in this war. We are all in it—all the way. Every single man, woman and child is a partner in the most tremendous undertaking of our American history. We must share together the bad news and the good news, the defeats and the victories—the changing fortunes of war….

“To all newspapers and radio stations—all those who reach the eyes and ears of the American people—I say this: You have a most grave responsibility to the nation now and for the duration of this war.”

Broadcast news updates of the war via radio formed the modern style of half-hour news programs. What was three- to four-minute updates a few times a day became a regular thirty-minute event.

Happier times were spent listening to comedies, soap operas and music, especially while cooking and baking. Since the 1920’s, corporations realized the enormous reach of radio to their target consumer: the homemaker. WWII advertising was delicately delivered via sponsorship of radio shows: The A&P Gypsies, The Planters Pickers, The Yeast Foamers, King Biscuit Time , and Light Crust Doughboys.

Proctor & Gamble’s Sisters of the Skillet, a soap opera, was part of Mrs. Blake’s Radio Column advertising Crisco. PET Milk sponsored The Mary Lee Taylor Program from 1933 to 1954. For many, the famous PET Milk Pumpkin Pie recipe was first heard over the radio and hastily written down.

The Betty Crocker Cooking School of the Air played from 1924 until 1948. Over time, the school saw over 1 million homemakers enrolled. Students took the homework seriously. Listeners mailed in reports for grading and received cooking pamphlets and other promotional literature.

I feel grateful that the Cooking Shows have been saved and archived. The Old Time Radio Catalog collected all of the shows for purchase.

 

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

I have some wonderful ladies helping me in my wartime kitchen project. Betty, Martha, Mary, Jane, Nancy, Anne, Martha M., Mary Lynn, Aunt Jenny, Mary Lee, Ann, Sue, Kay, Virginia, Mary Ellis, and Mary Margaret.

WWII Spokeswomen

L to R: Nancy Haven (Western Beet Sugar), Ann Page (A&P Retail Stores), Martha Meade (Sperry Products), Betty Crocker (General Mills Gold Medal Flour), Aunt Jenny (Spry Shortening), Jane Ashley (Karo Syrup), Kay Kellogg (Kellogg Cereal), Virginia Roberts (Occident Flour), Martha Logan (Swift Meats), Mary Alden (Quaker Oats), Mary Ellis Ames (Pillsbury Flour), Mary Lee Taylor (PET Milk), and Mary Margaret McBride.

 

Advertisements from WWII make it possible for me to feel like these wonderful ladies are right here by my side baking bread, cakes, and pies. I know their faces from the labels on the boxes and cans of their products and I can hear their lovely voices on the archived radio shows.

 

These women were the famous names of food corporations during the war.  In most cases, the women were fictional; made up corporate characters used to sell products to the doubting homemaker who needed the expert opinion of someone she could trust.  “Experience has shown that a corporate personality makes friends for the company, gives it a greater degree of humanness, and frequently increases the readership and response to advertisements and recipes,” one industry executive wrote, “because Mrs. Consumer feels more confidence in recipes which have been tested and approved by another woman.” (Marie Sellers, “Product Insurance for the Homemaker,” in Food Marketing, ed. Paul Sayres McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1950)

 

One trade publication commented that “Ideally, the corporate character is a woman, between the ages of 32 and 40, attractive, but not competitively so, mature but youthful looking, competent yet warm, understanding but not sentimental, interested in the consumer but not involved with her.” (Katherine J. Parkin, “Food is Love: Advertising and Gender Roles in Modern America”)

 

Almost every food company had a corporate character with an “attractive, but not competitively so” face and a WASP-y name. Mary Alden worked for Quaker Enriched Flour, Nancy Haven for Western Beet Sugar, and Mary Lynn Woods for Fleishmann’s Yeast. (Susan Marks, Finding Betty Crocker: The Secret Life of America’s First Lady of Food).

 

“The extent of use of the corporate characters varied tremendously. Betty Crocker, whose name and face appeared on products, cookbooks, radio, and television, was one of the most-used characters. At the other end of the spectrum, some characters only appeared as a signature on correspondence to consumers.”  (The Path to the Table: Cooking in Postwar American Suburbs by Timothy Miller)

 

Deceptive? Commercialism? Maybe, but I feel less “sold to” than modern day brand names like Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray, Giada De Laurentiis and Ree Drummond.  How about the men? Would Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsey, and Emeril been credible back in the WWII kitchen? Probably not.  And, isn’t that interesting?

 

Another thought, why was Ann Pillsbury replaced by a Pillsbury Doughboy in 1965?  How about Betty Crocker now being a red spoon? Have we altogether given up looking for advice from experts resembling humans and turned our confidence over to figments of imagination or logos to sway our buying preferences? Throughout the interviews I recorded leading up to this project, many people commented on the change of values and lost sense of community. I can’t help relating the movement away from people towards images being part of the swift change.

Come On Home For Supper, Darling. We Have Ketchup!

1934-food-heinz-ketchup-swscan04154-copyKetchup. Ketchup on burgers. Ketchup on fries. Ketchup on meatloaf. Ketchup on hot dogs (sorry Chicago). 94% of American households use ketchup.

So, it is no surprise that I find a need to write about this critical condiment. Varying in points over the duration of the war, in early 1944 a 14 oz. bottle of ketchup was costing 28 points. Is that a lot?  Yep. Consider that the allowed ration points for the month is 48 points per person. Even if you toss in the fact that a bottle might last you more than a month and even if you toss in the fact that a family of two has 96 points for the month to spend, ketchup was still one of those things that was considered frivolous. The equivalent of 28 points was 6 cans of beets or 2 cans of corn.

I couldn’t see using up all those points on ketchup. Especially considering that the “economical” bottle of ketchup I could purchase is 64 oz. (really Sam’s Club?), or a more fathomable amount of 28 oz. in the handy upside-down bottle, would cost me 128 points or 56 points respectively, I knew there was a better way.

Ketchup recipes are not difficult to find. Earliest recordings of ketchup (then called catsup) go back to the year 1690 when it was brought to Europe from China or Malaysia, depending on who you ask. One of the earliest recipes published in England in 1727 called for anchovies, shallots, vinegar, white wine, cloves, ginger, mace, nutmeg, pepper and lemon peel. It wasn’t until almost a century later that tomatoes found their way into the sauce, in a recipe in an American cookbook published in 1801. Source

The H. J. Heinz Company, a name that’s synonymous with ketchup for most people today, produced a tomato-based ketchup in 1876. They originally referred to their product as catsup, but switched to ketchup in the 1880’s to stand out. Source

The earlier recipes with cloves, mace, nutmeg and other spices are recognized today by the most notable food preservationists: The Amish. Pick up an Amish cookbook and you’ll find the best variety of catsup you’ll ever need. Similar with a great story behind it is also Jim Ledvinka’s reminiscent blog post from npr.org’s All Things Considered.

I prefer the good ol’ Heinz variety and I needed a recipe close to it. I found one online thanks to Todd Wilbur. It’s good. It’s very, very good. The problem though is, Tomato Paste.

Yes, tomato paste can be a problem. At the same time in 1944, tomato paste costs 13 ration points for a tiny little 6 oz. can. Okay, so it’s not a huge problem, like global warming or economic recession, but 13 points is still a lot of points. I am making a mental note to figure out how to make my own tomato paste later in the year when tomatoes are taking over the kitchen.

You’ll notice in my recipe that I took the 1 T sugar out. Seriously – it didn’t need it. There’s Heinz Ketchupno added sugar in the tomato paste and really the only sweetness comes from corn syrup. I also compared the recipe to Heinz’s ingredients on their label: Tomato concentrate from red ripe tomatoes, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, salt, spice, onion powder, and natural flavoring.

High fructose corn syrup and corn syrup?  Both? “Natural” flavoring? Like what? Well, we’ll never know.

For all these reasons, I highly prefer my recipe:

6 oz. tomato paste

1/2 C corn syrup (I use a lot less…experiment to your liking)

1/2 C white vinegar

1/4 C water

1 T sugar (I omit this ingredient)IMG_20150301_090843190

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Combine over medium heat. Whisk. After boiling, simmer 20 minutes, stirring often.

I store mine in glass jars for several weeks until it’s used up.

Aw Snap, Crackle & Pop

Over and over I hear people refer to the good ‘ol days when life was more simple. Six weeks into the WWII Food Ration Project I have to ask, “Simple how?”

Meal planning was not simple. Getting food was not simple. Baking and cooking food was not simple (even with a few of my improvised modern takes). Every step of the meal in the meal planners require planning ahead and remembering to do something a day ahead of time.

But then again, there are Rice Krispie Treats.

Rice KrispiesIn 1928 Kellogg’s Rice Krispies started appearing on grocery store shelves. They were a big hit. People loved the noise their cereal made. It wasn’t until 1933 when the character named Snap was added. We know all three of the elves, but I bet you didn’t know they actually started out as gnomes. Snap was joined by Crackle and Pop in 1941. rice-krispies_2

As the story goes, in 1939 two Home Economics employees of Kellogg’s were tasked with coming up with a fundraiser for Camp Fire Girls. Malitta Jensen and Mildred Day (the employees) relied on the reputation of Kelloggs being good to its employees during the lean times of the Great Depression. The company never laid anyone off (back then…sadly, that’s not the story from the recent recession). They knew if they came up with a good tasting bake sale item, the community would respond.

Who could imagine back then that we’d still be holding good ol’ Rice Krispie Treats so dear as our go-to bake sale recipe?

With only three ingredients – Rice Krispies, Marshmallows (or Fluff to make it vegetarian), and butter, there is no easier treat. And even better, you can’t get it wrong. If it doesn’t come together gooey enough, add marshmallows. If it’s a mess on the stove top, add butter.

The end result is sweet goodness, without added sugar, in little time and ready to eat almost as soon as the burner is turned off.

Simple basics. Good stuff.