I picked up this March 1950 issue of McCall's magazine in a thrift store a few weeks back and it's a real delight. There's an advice column written by Eleanor Roosevelt (sample question: "Why is it necessary to have guards around President Roosevelt's grave?", which she answers by saying, "I have nothing to do with the management of the government property at Hyde Park"), as well as an Ask the Doctor feature (sample question: "Is measles a dangerous disease?", which the doctor answers, "Yes. Measles can be a serious disease. Don't say, 'It's nothing but measles'").
There are also three short stories (here's the amazing subhed of one of them), and a sizable amount of "Create a Powerful Insecurity + Aggressively Market a Solution" content ("Flatten your bulging tummy," a sidebar urges. "Are you really sure of your charms?"). But, by far, the best part of the magazine is its food coverage. Let's take a look at the kale salads of yore.
Ice-Cold Crushed Pineapple with Plump Piping-Hot Sausage
Toothsome and approachable. The sausage was cooked to perfection: indeed, "piping-hot." Rivulets of icy pineapple juice ran down the luscious mound of steamy, unctuous sausage, and Mrs. Food Critic savored the pillowy contrast on her tongue. "Ah!" she said. "A new just-right taste."
Okay, so you make some Jell-O, spice it up with some lemon juice and cinnamon, and get it hard on some banana chunks. Pretty basic until you have to "unmold and serve on salad greens with mayonnaise, garnished with paprika." Makes 4 or 5 servings. God, I love Cuban food.
This recipe is best if you imagine Guy Fieri in a house dress, in front of an ice-cream-colored '50s refrigerator, hosing up all 4 or 5 servings by himself for a midday snack.
Miracle Whip Fruit Salad
"Arrange the peach and pear halves on lettuce. Place a spoonful of crushed pineapple in the center of each pear half and garnish the stem end with a quartered cherry." Seems reasonable. "Fill the center of the peaches with Miracle Whip." THE FUCK I WILL BE DOING THAT
Rice'n everything nice
*including eggs, mushrooms and creamy.
We may look at this as some sort of Devil's Risotto, in which mustard and Worcestershire are stirred into melting butter, and a 14-oz can of Borden's Evaporated Milk is then blended into the vomitous roux. A cup of Borden's Grated American Cheese is added, then mushrooms, then hard-boiled eggs, then the whole thing goes in the middle of a "rice ring" and Mom goes off to take some tranquilizers in the basement.
Crisco's Rice 'N' Cheese Balls
This ad is the equivalent of when someone starts a story with "I swear I'm not a racist." Because, like... IS IT DIGESTIBLE, CRISCO? IS IT?
Star-Shaped Grilled Cheese Mayo Fantasia (name my own)
"Split frankfurter buns in half and spread with Kraft Mayonnaise. Fill with good thick strips of Velveeta and brush the tops of the buns with melted butter or Parkay Margarine. Place in a moderate oven until the Velveeta is melted, and serve with crispy bacon." Substituting every ingredient for another ingredient, this could be a great recipe. Note, at top-right, another ominous reassurance that Velveeta is "digestible," and at bottom-left, an early predictive image of the End of Men.
Tuna: Just Eat It
This ad is an epistemological nightmare. "This label is white," it sing-songs. "This label is green." Both cans mention both chicken and tuna; the large font screams "Oooooooooh, yes! The Best O'Tuna becomes Breast O' Chicken." The thesis of tuna and the antithesis of chicken are within here united in a synthesis of Breast O'Chicken Chunk Pack Tuna Flakes, which could also be interpreted as nothing but an auto-generated word cloud of insults.
Imagine the copywriter, girdled too tightly and stoned off her hysteria tablets, sitting down at her agency Olivetti. Always the young, she clatters out, an inexplicable tear streaking her porcelain skin. The tenda' tuna. "Perfect," she whispers to herself, and then passes out in the trash can. Two hours later she's woken up by the brown-nosing receptionist, who hisses, "We need a recipe on the copy in 5 minutes before the meeting.
"Okay okay," mumbles the copywriter woozily. The tuna cans swim before her. RECIPE, she types. JUST EAT IT. Any way.