1935 H.W. McNess Cook Book – Recipes in 14 Languages!

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This one has great photos and product advertisements along with recipes from Argentina, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland written in their native languages! See this and other great advertising cookbooks at The Cookbook Maven.

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Advertising Cookbooks Rock!!!

I love connecting with others who share my enthusiasm for old COOKBOOKS! My personal favorites are the advertising cookbooks from 1920s through the 1950s. It’s fun to watch how cooking techniques and recipe formats change. Sometimes the narration itself is fascinating, full of commentary on the family structure and social norms of the time period. And I just LOVE all those great illustrations of happy housewives and fabulous (and sometimes funky) FOOD!

Everyday dishes that taste like more pet milk advertising cookbook Everyday dishes that taste like more pet milk advertising cookbook 2

These 1940s Pet Milk advertising cookbooks are chock full of homey comfort foods, colorful graphics & nifty NBC radio ads.

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Cook Until Done: Evolution of the Recipe

In the early days of cookbooks, recipes were more art than science and contained helpful instructions like “cook until done.” By the 1890s, recipes were becoming more standardized due to the influence of cooks like Fanny Farmer and the “domestic sciences” movement. By the 1920s, electric refrigerators and temperature regulated ovens made it possible to develop more precise instructions. The basic format evolved from a chatty, narrative style into an ingredients list with precise measurements, followed by a paragraph of instructions.

By the late 1940s, the fictional Betty Crocker further refined the modern recipe with illustrations and step-by-step instructions. The groundbreaking “Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook” (also known as “Big Red”) was published in 1950 and remains one of the most popular cookbooks of all times. Here’s a peek inside some vintage cookbooks, showing how recipes have changed over the last 100+ years.

“The Vest Pocket Pastry Book” (1905)
Note the short, paragraph-style recipes; instructions were minimal and lacked oven temperatures or precise cooking times.

The Vest Pocket Pastry Book Vintage Cookbook 4

“Fifty-Two Sunday Dinners” (1928)
Note the reminder “All measurements are level” – such scientific precision in recipes was spearheaded by Fanny Farmer of the Boston Cooking School.

Fifty-Two Sunday Dinners woman's world vintage cookbook 3

“Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook” (1950)
This groundbreaking cookbook combined a modern recipe format with clear illustrations and step-by-step instructions. In addition to being useful, it’s a sentimental favorite among cooks whose mothers or grandmothers cooked family dinners from it. It’s no wonder it remains one of the best-selling cookbooks of all time!

Vintage Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook Cook Book 4

Hungry for more? Check out the succulent selections at The Cookbook Maven or connect with other enthusiasts on our Vintage Cookbooks fan page on Facebook.

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Food Fights for Freedom

Victoriana says make “food fight for freedom” with the help of Jell-o!

Bright spots for wartime meals jell-o advertising cookbook

"Bright Spots for Wartime Meals" (1943)

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Collecting Vintage Cookbooks

Vintage cookbook collecting has been gaining in popularity in recent years, and a lot of people start with the cookbooks their mothers or grandmothers used. When you’re ready to broaden your collection, the many cookbook subgenres provide cooks and collectors with a wide variety of themes to choose from. General or basic cookery books were often among the first gifts a new bride received. Examples include the Joy of Cooking, Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook and Meta Given’s Encyclopedia of Modern Cooking. In addition to recipes for all courses and food groups, they often contained instructions for beginner cooks, reference tables and household advice.

Betty Crocker's Cookbook Red Pie Cover Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book World Scope Family Cookbook by Gertrude Wilkinson Vintage 1949 1

Specialized cookbooks might focus on a specific ingredient (poultry) a particular class of food (vegetables), or a particular cooking method (baking). Ethnic and regional cookbooks offer recipes themed around a particular country (France), region within a country (American South) or ethnic style of cooking (Jewish). Some collectors are particularly keen on fundraising cookbooks, so called because they were often assembled from recipes contributed by church or community members and then sold to raise money for an institution.

Vintage Cookbooks at The Cookbook Maven on EtsyAll About Home Baking Vintage Cookbook General Foods AdvertisingHousekeeping in Old Virginia Vintage Cookbook 1The Vintage Cookbook Maven on Etsy

One particularly interesting area of collecting focuses on food and product advertising cookbooks. These ranged from small folded recipe leaflets that were tucked into product packages to illustrated magazines or small hard cover books available for a fee. Some endorsed a particular product (canned milk or baking powder) while others were offered by non-food companies, such as department stores or insurance agencies, as customer appreciation “giveaways.” In the late 1800s and early 1900s, when large printed cookbooks were scarce or simply too costly for the average household, many housewives relied on these little advertising cookbooks to guide them in the preparation of family meals, while also instructing them in the rules of table setting and service.

Bright ideas for better meals vintage cookbook pet milk advertising 1 1949 Milk-Maid Recipes from Adohr vintage advertising cookbook 1 Sealtest Food Adviser Holiday Spring 1939 NY World's Fair Edition 1 Husband tested recipes vintage advertising cookbook pet milk 1

No matter what you’re craving, chances are there’s a cookbook to satisfy your appetite! Stop by The Cookbook Maven to see our current selection.

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