Saturday, April 5, 2014

Aunt Jenny's Nutrition Lessons

Today's treat is commonly discussed in the bizarre cookbook circles, but it is a favorite for a reason. "Aunt Jenny's Favorite Recipes," a pamphlet of recipes for Spry shortening (from the 1940s or so?), is packed with folksy, -g droppin' cartoons and some interesting ideas about how women should take care of their husbands. (At one point, Aunt Jenny is "makin' frostin'" so her husband Calvin can "lick the spoon" (apparently not a euphemism) and asks, "Husbands aren't much different from little boys, are they, ladies?")

I want to look at the pamphlet's ideas of what is nutritious. They are questionable at best, just like my mom's conviction that the whole family would immediately die of a protein shortage if we didn't have meat at least twice a day, and preferably at least one of those times should be beef.

So what does Aunt Jenny think about nutrition? You'll see at the bottom of this page:

All those dinners of French fries, fried chicken, and doughnuts are not just good for Calvin, they're "so good for him...!" that the sentence actually needs an intensifier and an exclamation point to reinforce readers' understandin' of the foods' nutritional value. What Jenny thinks is nutritious about these foods, I can't say, but apparently she's a big fan of trans fat.

And what are her nutritious recipes? Here are a couple of her more unusual ones:

"Salmon Cutlets" are pretty clearly salmon patties deep fried in Spry. (Let the omega-3s and the trans fats fight it out!) I was a especially surprised by the "Macaroni Cheese Cutlets." I thought deep-fried macaroni and cheese was dreamed up fairly recently as a way to escalate the obesity epidemic, but Aunt Jenny was deep frying her mac and cheese 70 years ago.

My favorite claim of all is the way that Spry can coax picky kids to eat:

We all know how hard it is to get children to eat their damn doughnuts already. But Spry makes doughnuts "so light and digestible a child can eat 'em." Amazin'!

I'm all ready to run out to the grocer and ask for the 6-pound can.

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