Thursday, September 12, 2013


Many years ago, I was perusing yard sales for hidden gems of design when I found a whole collection of Betty Crocker vintage recipe cards in a plastic yellow box. The cards were from 1971, which was not the happiest era for international food photography. If you're lucky to own a few vintage cookbooks from the 70s, you are certainly familiar with their disturbing, high-saturation portraits of truculent stews, purple cabbage "surprises" stuffed with Russian salad, carousels of boiled egg on pewter trays, and glowingly awful seafood aspics.

Candyboots published a treasure of appalling Weight Watchers recipe cards from 1974 that you just have to see to believe. Here are my modest picks from the Betty Crocker recipe collection. The images are not as outlandish as the Weight Watchers ones, but I have to show you anyway and add my commentary as Italian spectator. My plan is to publish a small series in which I'll be sarcastic, of course, but also intrigued (Italians have their skeletons in the closet, too). This series will be a compassionate farewell to the bad culinary habits that America has been trying to shed in the past decades. It will also be a heartfelt "nevermore!" to recipes that are mostly made of boxed ingredients such as canned Vienna sausages, liver loaves, and other can o'meats.

The first recipe card is titled Fun with Franks, and really what other sentiment other than fun could ever accompany a course like this? The recipe asks you to cut the franks lengthwise and stuff them with either apple and cheese, peanut butter, clementine wedges, melon balls, pickled onions, or boxed stuffing. Then you wrap them in bacon and grill them for 15 minutes. Franks with peanut butter, pickled onions, and bacon. If Betty C. can digest this, then I am sure we can, too, right?

Read this in Italian: Sbellicata di BBiustel Ripieni.


  1. I agree ... Everything in the years 70/80's was exaggerated, the hair, the clothes, the food... They were times of growing economic opportunities. It also began the spread of recipes in large-scale and many people suggested recipes often frankly improbable ... Just looking at the photographic reproduction of some food I have to take something to digest !

    1. Grazie, Boba! Non avevo visto il tuo commento. Cmq dagli anni '70 e da queste schifezze in scatola siamo passati direttamente a fast food e merendine. Solo nei 2000 ci siamo ripresi un po'.