I can’t say why I love recipe pamphlets – you know, the kind that manufacturers such as Kraft, General Mills, Dole, Campbell’s, etc., publish to encourage us to use their products. I used to clip order forms for such pamphlets from magazine ads and send away for them. They ought to give them to us – even pay us to take them -- but usually they ask something for them, if only postage / handling. These days I don’t “buy” so many, but I’m still interested, especially in those published prior to 1970. (1970 denotes modern times to me.)
I recall the day in 1991 when we were cleaning out the basement at the family home in Orofino. We pulled open a drawer packed with recipes, appliance manuals, product-specific leaflets and pamphlets, etc. I hadn’t seen them before – at least, not as a whole collection. Mother simply stored them away because she could. As I declared my interest in this treasure trove, my half-sisters rolled their eyes and told me to have at it.
So, I have some pamphlets that came from Mother, a few that were Grandma Ina’s, and of course, some that are mine. These pamphlets / booklets abound at antique and thrift stores, but I usually don’t pay much attention. It has to be meaningful on some level for me to buy in.
Meaningful -- like the other night when I was listening to a podcast of an old Fibber McGee and Molly radio program, c.1950, sponsored by PET evaporated milk. The announcer was advertising “Everyday Dishes that Taste Like More,” by Mary Lee Taylor. Tune in on Saturday morning, he was saying, to hear Mary Lee Taylor share the “recipe of the week” over most of these NBC stations. In my sleepy state, I made a mental note to tune in – and then realized this happened in “old time” and wasn’t a “real time” possibility. But my curiosity was piqued.
An internet search revealed some history about Mary Lee Taylor. She was a nutritionist and home economist as well as an accomplished chef, I read. But digging deeper I learned that Mary Lee Taylor was a pseudonym created by Erma Perham Proetz, who handled the PET evaporated milk account at the Gardner Advertising Company in St. Louis, MO, from 1923 until her passing in 1944. Mrs. Proetz developed a test kitchen for PET and became the first “Mary Lee Taylor” on radio.
So, in Mrs. Proetz I discovered another wonderful retro woman. In her lifetime, she was an award-winning advertising executive and mentor to other women. Posthumously, she was the first woman elected to the Advertising Hall of Fame. As for “Mary Lee Taylor,” I’m afraid I don’t know what happened to her. The Saturday morning cooking series was the longest-running cooking program on radio, beginning November 7, 1933 on CBS and concluding October 9, 1954 on NBC. Whatever happened to Mary Lee, the folks at PET Milk aren’t saying. They don’t even mention the radio program in their history timeline.
Anyway, on a lark I decided to see if I could find the recipe pamphlet, “Everyday Dishes that Taste Like More” on Amazon – and I did! So, I ordered it. And it came.
“Bet those recipes are laden with fat,” observed Mike, alias “Jack Sprat.”
But I didn’t think they were so bad. And anyway, I know how to fix them. KW