Tag Archives: Food

When Frozen Vegetables were Fancy

In 1912 Clarence Birdseye, taxidermist and naturalist, was working in Labrador, Canada, enjoying the temperate climate of -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Birdseye took to ice fishing and discovered the fish he caught froze almost instantly as it hit the frigid air. What’s more, when thawed, the fish tasted fresh! Clarence learned this flash freezing created small ice crystals which preserved the meat without destroying the cells. This was a far cry better than contemporary freezing methods that were costly and left frozen foods mealy and unappetizing.

Birdseye, back at home in New York City, went to work to recreate this flash freezing process. In 1927 he applied for a patent for a new food freezing machine and soon after got to selling his new and improved frozen foods.

What seems crazy to our modern palate is that, at the time, frozen food was seen as a posh culinary choice. The 1920’s and ‘30’s hostesses proudly announced to her guests she was serving frozen foods at her dinner party. At the time, only those who could afford freezers could store the products which also cost more due to the needed temperature control from production to travel to storage in local shops. Birdseye began leasing grocery stores special freezers to display his products. All this lead to frozen fish and veggies being seen as fine dining.

Birdseye’s companies started advertising “June peas as gloriously green as any you will see next summer” which seems a tad lengthy, though totally delightful.

Post WWII people began buying freezers for their homes, making frozen foods more accessible to the masses. Food companies began offering frozen pizzas and eventually the classic TV dinner.


In the 1950s, Birds Eye, now owned by General Foods, introduced its popular slogan, “Sweet as the moment when the pod went POP”

peas pop ad

In 1969, Birds Eye made history as it aired the first color TV commercial to run in the U.K., showcasing those peas in all their technicolor glory.

And, because we all love those vintage food ads, here you go:

peas adman birds eye



Of Tiny Men and Eggnog

Last year I lamented the punch bowl missing from holiday festivities, and I thought I would expand on that theme by exploring what’s up with Eggnog. Love or hate it, eggnog’s a staple of the holidays and likely one of the earliest social lubricants – evidently it’s been an American winter drink dating from the pilgrim days.

It seems boozy eggnog advertising was dominated by two brands, Four Roses and Bacardi. Each took their own path to lure their customers to holiday cheer.

Four Roses stuck to the same visual, barely updated for the changing times. I’m serious. All the ads were the same:

These ads were from 1944, 1956 and 1937. Three decades of the same imagery! Still, I enjoy that they call their recipe “Merry Christmas!” It sure takes some jingle bells to try and brand such a common phrase.

Bacardi went with the whimsical route, featuring Elf on the Shelf’s other little known cousins – The Booze Brothers.

Are they elves, or gnomes or the 7 dwarfs on their day off?  I don’t know…I just.don’t. know…

Please note the “Man’s Recipe” for the eggnog. Men can’t be seen sipping some sissy nog, now can they?! “Sally, get away from that bowl! You know ladies can’t handle such a macho mix of eggs, cream and spices!”

Other notable eggnog ads include this Glenmore spot with more tiny bartenders, this time looking like a cross between Albert Einstein and the Monopoly guy.

glenmore nog

This very pretty ad showing Four Roses could do other things besides headless beings pawing at punch bowls, 4 roses

And though not eggnog related, I thought this was a fantastic ad! Get ‘er done, Santa! martini

Whatever’s in your cup, be sure to raise a glass for peace, love and good advertising!

Memorial Day Picnic – Ad Style

Happy Memorial Day weekend in the US! As the unofficial start of summer there is one thing everyone wants to do: Grill Out! Let’s see what’s on our vintage ad picnic menu, shall we?

First up: hot dogs! So convenient in a can! I can see thousands of cold-war era backyard bomb shelters stuffed to the rafters with cans and cans of wieners. Why, the nuclear winter will seem like a picnic with all those hot dogs!

canned weiners
If you are trying really hard to get Middle Schoolers to laugh, you can’t go wrong with the phrasing “Can o’ Wieners” paired with “Sack o’ Sauce”
By “a little bit you you!” I’m pretty sure they mean “internal organs.” 

Or maybe we can tempt you with a hamburger, fresh from the tin?

burger can 2
“Say, I know! burgers in a can, ya see?” 

Let’s not forget the condiments! What’s a picnic without ketchup?

Folks must have had a lot of time to read ad copy back in the day. I’ve asked Uncle Mary to call me his angel whenever I buy new ketchup, but he had declined. 

Or folks losing their minds over mustard?

This is everyone’s favorite style of vintage ad! It hits me right in the ad loving spot.

…and to wash it all down?


Seagrams cookout
I have never wanted anything more than to be at this party. 
Brewers Memorial Day
If I can’t be at the Seagram’s party, can I be here instead?

Many wishes for a happy and peaceful Memorial Day!

Punch Up Your Holiday Parties!

I think it’s time we bring back the punch bowl! Enough with the wine and craft beer at every party, I want a big crock of Cheerful Whatever poured into a cut glass vessel large enough to take a bath in.

You aren’t on board? You will be after you see these delightful retro recommendations!

Dudes be creepin. I have a feeling “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is played in a loop at this party. 

You can find this punch bowl at literally any second hand store anywhere. I love thrift shopping and there is always at least one punch bowl at any local shop.



Named after someone in the Four Roses test kitchen was heard shouting “Merry Christmas”after sampling the newest punch recipe. They were later found sleeping it off under the break room table.



Is it just me or is this headline a little threatening?  Still, there’s meat and a bucket of rum in crazy-adorable cups so count me in!



It’s important to have sustenance on hand to soak up all that hooch. Be sure to adorn your party table with Elf on the Shelf’s older cousin, Judgy McStink-Eye, who sits on the buffet and makes note of everything you eat and drink. “Oh, you’re having another plate of food…well that certainly is a choice.”

By the way, that’s a tower of tuna…at a cocktail party…where people have been drinking. Good plan!

Aunt Mary’s Home for Creepy Ads

Perhaps it’s the triple whammy of my obsessive watching of Stranger Things, listening to the Black Tapes Podcast and the infiltration of clowns across our great nation, but I’m on edge lately. Obviously the best treatment was days spent searching the deep web for weird-ass ads to share with you all.

I’m a giver, that’s for sure.

Brace yourselves, kids, for Aunt Mary has uncovered the creepiest food ads from the good ‘ol days. I’m pretty sure none of these open a portal to the Upside Down.





I get the distinct impression there is something in this pie that Fred isn’t telling us about. He watches while we eat, but he never takes a bite. He just smiles that knowing smile.










Obviously this doll gets up and wanders the house at night, that’s a given. What’s weird is he rips the labels off the canned vegetables leaving the homeowners guessing what tonight’s side dish will be. It’s diabolical.







Even demons need their vitamin C.

Maybe it’s time to lay off the OJ when your kid is carrot colored.



skinless-weiners Hey Jughead, I feel like this might be one of those “if you see something, say something” situations. I’m not sure what’s wrong here, but I can say that nothing’s right.

The odd imagery this company used in almost all of their advertising lends a sinister tone to their name, Skinless.






Nothing about this ad is either safe or sane.





Well, goodnight kids! Sleep tight, I hope the stuffed Green Giant won’t bite.

Sure, I’ll leave the hall light on.

A Study in Casseroles – Recipe Wednesday

Today’s retro recipes are from Aunt Mary’s personal edition of “Casseroles” published by Favorite Recipes of America in 1968. All of the recipes in the book were submitted by readers, making them a leader in group sourcing content long before the Huffington Post thought they were so cool.


Leafing through the book, one thought kept creeping through my mind: is it better or worse that the interior photos are black in white. Does it make them more or less appetizing? I’ll let you decide!

This Tabasco Beef Ring has a whopping 1 1/2 teaspoons of Tabasco Sauce to two pounds of ground beef. 
I’m not sure if it’s the chunkiness or the shininess that make this so worrisome. 
Janie thinks she’s so fancy because she’s been to Canada. 

I especially enjoyed that each recipe is accredited to its submitter in full honorific detail. In typical contemporary fashion, the ladies are listed as their husband’s name such as Mrs. Frank Schnozzel, South Bend; or by their given name if unmarried, Betty Birdpants, Tacoma. By all means, let’s make sure to let everyone know if this person’s cooking is good enough to snag herself a man!





Big Otis is OK

At some point in the 1950’s, an exasperated marketing exec in Battle Creek said “I don’t know. Make the mascot a giant Scotsman?” and OKs cereal’s Big Otis was born.

I get it, oats, oatmeal, Scotland. Sure. Why not? How else was Kellogg’s going to elbow in on that smug Cheerios? What kid doesn’t love a burly, bearded man in ethnic garb telling them what to eat? It’s like we’re printing money, baby!


Big Otis
Don’t look up, kids!

Big Otis spent two years basking in the cereal mascot sun before he was replaced with Yogi Bear in 1962. In 1963 OK’s was scraped in favor of Fruit Loops. It was grand while it lasted, wasn’t it, Laddie?


Thanks to Dan for suggesting today’s topic! Let me know if you have an idea for the Ad Storytime!