Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Rawleigh's guide to creepy families and shattered dreams

My childhood self would sooo not be excited by today's post. After getting dragged on multiple Saturdays to an old couple's house in the next county so my parents could pick up cases of double-strength vanilla and Will Power laundry detergent to try to sell to our neighbors if they would ever stop hiding in the basement when they saw us coming toward their front doors, I was not a fan of Rawleigh's. Yet, when I saw this booklet in a grab bag at an antique shop many years later, I was excited. Nostalgia is a powerful drug.

"Rawleigh's Good Health Guide Almanac Cook Book" for 1950 is well before my time, and it makes being the kid of a Rawleigh family look like it was so much more glamorous back then. Kids got to gaze into each other's eyes as they ate jelly bread over big glasses of off-brand Kool-Aid (with their choice of "compound lemon nectar" or some unspecified red flavor).  Looks like I missed out on some real fun.

Of course, a big portion of the booklet is focused on selling old-timey non-food Rawleigh products, like "Anti-Pain Oil Internal," "Stainless Vapor Balm," and "Soapless Washing Compound."

The patient are rewarded near the end with a lovely spread of recipes:

Midnighter's Special: that sandwich for when you want to make sure you'll have bad dreams. Just spread bread with butter, peanut butter, baked beans, chopped onion, catsup, and pickle relish, then top with bacon, tomato, and self-loathing.

This recipe was for a time when parents were not nearly as worried about kids taking up smoking:

Irish Pipes are much more elaborate than simple candy cigarettes, filling a hollowed-out cupcake with frosting and chocolate shot "to resemble tobacco." I'm not sure why this is to be served on a lace doilie. Pipe smoking may seem kind of fancy I guess, but I can't imagine the kids being impressed that mom busted out the doilies for their cupcake pipes.

Rawleigh wanted readers to associate the company with the joy and ease of quick desserts.

Yes, you too could stare dejectedly into a glass dessert dish as you filled it full of reddish glop coordinated with your apron and wondered why you'd gotten talked into marrying Gerald rather than running away to Europe to write your novel about the woman who could cause "spontaneous" human combustion with the power of her mind.

Rawleigh desserts seem unlikely to derail that particular train of thought:

Try imitation tapioca dessert dotted with chopped dates, for an imitation good time.

The recipes are not all winners, but they're not generally the worst, either. While I am not thrilled at the thought of Tuna Fish Pie with Cheese Swirl Crust, this version does sound infinitely better than the cheese-crusted tuna pie that launched this blog almost three years ago.

The recipes are almost good enough to make you put on that dress that matches the print on the new couch and watch your husband creepily feed a spoonful of brown glop to your fever-dream of a daughter.

Happy Cookbook Wednesday! Thanks, as always, to Louise of Months of Edible Celebrations for hosting. Now get out there and find some imitation tapioca to lace with Anti-Pain Oil Internal.


  1. Oh my goodness, those recipes are crazy! The Midnighter's Special sounds like a hangover special! lol Thanks for sharing!

    1. It was "special" in the not-so-good sense of the word.

  2. Hi Poppy:)
    I see you have really tried to get on the right side of Rawleigh products with this post. Those book sure are a hoot! I do like the center spreads of imitation extracts that I've seen in some of them.

    My mother did the Fuller Brush thing for a while. I can't say I was thrilled with the whole thing. I think it was one of the reasons I loathed selling Girl Scot cookies. Slammed doors are not good memories...

    I'm floored by the method for those Irish Pipes. Cucakes? Really? It sure was a different time. Can you imagine the reaction people would have now, lol...

    Thanks for sharing this booklet for Cookbook Wednesday Poppy. It really is a time capsule in a sense. Perhaps one to be forgotten. Perhaps not...

    1. I love the idea that you should buy your lemon extract and fly killer from the same source, too! Rawleigh was kind of all over the place with their products.

      Some of us are certainly not meant for sales, either. I wasn't in Girl Scouts, but I do remember having to sell things for school fundraisers and wishing I could do just about anything else....

  3. They're all part of a cult! Rawleigh's is a cult! Plus those kids killed their parents, hence the creepy smiles and the blank eyes

    1. That certainly seems plausible based on their pictures. Maybe I should write a Rawleigh-based horror movie.

  4. Wow. Just wow. That Midnighter's Special sounds like something stoned college kids came up with.