Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Health lessons from Wesson

Today I reached into a big grab bag of random cooking pamphlets I bought at an antique shop and fished this out:

"Good Eating With Your Heart in Mind" is a promotional pamphlet from Wesson vegetable oil. It's undated, but Michigan State University's Alan and Shirley Brocker Sliker Culinary Collection estimates its publication date as 1955. (That is a cool web site if you're interested in old cooking publications!)

The front cover gives a pretty good overview of the booklet's contents, most of which are pretty familiar. (The "Wesson Nest Egg" advertised on the cover is just an egg fried in the hole cut into a slice of bread. Add a sausage, and you can call it toad in the hole.)

Some recipes are a bit more interesting:

I'm sure you can guess that spiced chicken is NOT my thing. I know there are people out there who think orange juice, canned peaches, and brown sugar go perfectly well with vinegar, garlic, and chicken, but I am soooo not one of those people! I want my main meal to be savory and my dessert to be sweet, but smash them together and I will gag ostentatiously enough to make anyone in the near vicinity flee to at least the general vicinity.

Other recipes sound pretty tasty...

...but their commitment to heart health seems a bit suspect. Are fried strawberry-preserve-and-cottage-cheese or creamed chicken pies really gifts to one's heart? Well, considering the pastry and frying oil are made with vegetable oil rather than the lard or shortening most cooks would have used in the '50s, these probably are a step up. Still, calling them healthy seems to be pushing it a bit.

The most interesting part of the pamphlet for me is the back cover, which lists offers for other cookbooks:

I am intrigued by the claim here: "America's first Skillet Cook Book." I want to say this sounds like a debatable claim, but then I realized that even with internet access that people in the '50s wouldn't have had, I do not want to spend a day investigating this assertion. I doubt anyone back then would have had the time or inclination to investigate either. It could have been a golden era of professing to have the first cookbook dedicated to any one type of cookery without any foundation at all for the claim! Or they could just be telling the truth. I don't know why I find the question of whether this is really the first skillet cookbook in America (and whether many other cookbooks made similar dubious claims) to be so interesting, but that is just the kind of odd machine I am....

There's also an ad for this:

"Quicker Ways to Better Eating" shows once again that Wesson's idea of "better eating" includes things like "Chocolate Brownie Pie" and "Italian Pizza." (I'm sure it was pronounced "Eye-talian Pizza.") Wesson has odd ideas about healthy food, but they sound like more fun than, say, Rodale's or the Rosicrucians'.

Wesson, if I could still send you 50c in coin to get these cook booklets, I'd be chucking spare change into the nearest mailbox right this minute.

Happy Wednesday!


  1. Chocolate Brownie Pie for better living?! The fact that the FDA has kept this information secret is just proof that it works!