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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Dear preemptive vacationers,

I realize there’s been a lot of food in these dispatches lately, perhaps in subconscious anticipation of Thanksgiving this Thursday. I don’t know about you, but when I think about Thanksgiving (or Turkey Day, as I’ve heard it called), I think about sweet potatoes with marshmallows, fresh roasted turkey, grandmotherly love—and that’s just the Garfield Thanksgiving special.This year my brother and sister-in-law are hosting, and rather than bake a pumpkin pie, I figured I’d bring something far more nutritious and satisfying: cultural ephemera! Even my nephew, who hasn’t started teething, can digest that!

Even in 1898, Americans had discovered the fine art of historical reenactment. The photograph below, from the Memorial Hall Museum Online, shows four women dressed in colonial garb making “Thanksgiving Pies.” The image was created for Home Life in Colonial Days by Alice Morse Earle, usually remembered for reviving interest in the colonial period.

If you’re unsure what to prepare for your own Thanksgiving feast, then best consult the amazing collection of cookbooks and home economics among Virginia Tech’s rare and digitized books. Why not take a page from Ida Follett’s Table Decorations and Delicacies: a Complete Hand-book for the Hostess, and place a stuffed turkey at the center of the table (and illustrated turkeys at the center of your plates!). Honestly, it’s only slighty tackier than the Thanksgiving “tablescape” offered by the Food Network’s Sandra Lee.

You can also search USC’s L.A. Examiner negatives archive for some truly awe-inspiring photographs from the years of 1950s abundance, like the ones below.

And last but not least, I’ve pointed you, dear readers, to the J.N. “Ding” Darling cartoon archive at U of Iowa, but not his Thanksgiving panels. Here’s one of my favorites, “The Thanksgiving turkey of our forefathers – and the Thanksgiving turkey of today.”

With thanks to you, readers,

Stephen

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To students seldom awake before ten,

Like many scholars, I’ve relied on coffee as a lifeline for most of my academic career. By senior year of high school, I was already bringing a plastic mug full of instant Maxwell House (terrible, I know) to class. In college, I even considered footnoting the local convenience store in a freshman year philosophy paper, since I owed their machine-made vanilla lattes at least as much as Kant.

My thoughts turned to coffee this week after reading a great paper-in-progress by a fellow graduate student here at Harvard. Still I wondered, where was the history of coffee on the web? Look no further than the Victorian trade card collection at Miami University in Ohio . Trade cards became popular in nineteenth century America, as a way of advertising products from soap to lawnmowers (to learn more, check out the Baker Library’s online exhibit). In the example below, Uncle Sam himself endorses one brand. The back of the card features these inspiring verses, “Take this from me my people dear / If you’d keep war away/and fill the land with peace and cheer / Do just what I shall say: / I know a beverage full of charm, / there’s magic in the cup. / To cure all ills, to keep from harm, / Drink when you dine or sup.” Sorry, Anglophiles, your Earl Grey tea won’t help you escape the traumas of sickness and strife!Other cards, while produced by coffee companies, didn’t bother to picture the product itself. Arbuckle Brothers, for instance, came up with a number of collectible series, including “sports and pastimes of all nations.”  Check out the gentlemen athletes in the image below, and the coffee instructions on the reverse.

For more coffee-related trade cards, click here. And for yet more cards of all types, check out the collections at the Brooklyn Public Library and University of Iowa.

To see where coffee advertising would go a few decades later, surf over to the always remarkable Prelinger Archives. You’ll quickly discover the theme in these Folgers ads from the 1960s: make a better cup of coffee for your husband, or he’ll be back “at the office” faster than Mad Men‘s debonair Don Draper.  Click on the images below to watch.

Yours perkily,

Stephen

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Dear lethargic readers,

It’s one of the regrets of my life thus far that I’ve never been to a county or state fair—to my knowledge, there weren’t many (or any) on Long Island where I grew up. Thanks to the Digital Library of Georgia, however, I can at least enjoy the “idea” of the state fair from my home computer. Their wonderful State Fair collection includes a short history of the annual Macon event along with dozens of photographs, like the one on the left from 1955 of a young boy at a chicken show, and the one on the right from 1935 of the ominously named Buddy Bloodworth Chicken Grill (click on images for more details).

Only one thing absent from all these photos: African Americans, who couldn’t take part in the fair until the end of segregation.

The Georgia website also includes some great links to more digital State Fair archives, including the Wisconsin State Fair Gallery from the Wisconsin Historical Society. I particularly love the photographs from the annual “Alice in Dairyland” competition. Check out, on the left, a photograph of 1962’s Alice with Miss Wisconsin and a milk-loving gentleman, and on the right, Alice of Dairyland 1951 buttering the kernels of Miss Sweet Corn Queen. Make of that what you will.

Suggestively yours,

Stephen

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Dear snooze-button specialists,

Eating may be one of the more delightful ways to delay work. People who don’t spend their lives in libraries and classrooms for a living might, in fact, be surprised at how many lunches, teatimes, coffee breaks, iced coffee breaks, brownie breaks, suppers, dinners, desserts, and happy hours you can fit into a single day—not to mention those golden moments when you discover free leftovers from a talk or workshop you didn’t attend.

SupergoopOf course, eating well requires work all its own. Thankfully, the A.V. Geeks have posted countless classic (and by classic, I mean truly awful) educational films on their website, including several specifically related to food. Like the Prelinger Archive, the A.V. Geeks specialize in ephemeral films, though their collection weighs a little more heavily towards the 1960s and 1970s (Duke has them to thank for digitizing their Ad Views archive). Many of their films are also available for purchase on DVD, which may explain why the site is so poorly indexed.

Nonetheless, for the devoted delinquent like myself, a quick scan for films of the 1970s reveals such gems as “Soopergoop,” where an animated cat reveals the manipulative techniques of advertising execs looking to sell a new cereal. Or there’s “Munchers: A Fable,” a claymation pic about tooth decay with a psychedelic soundtrack and a black devil named “Jack Sweet.”

BarbecueSpeaking of psychedelic, don’t miss the kids getting down in “Story of a Peanut Butter Sandwich.” And last but not least, there’s a public service announcement about “National Barbecue Month,” where a bunch of teens in cowboy hats learn the joys of a well-cooked steak.

Onto the day! Isn’t it lunchtime yet?

Hungrily yours,

Stephen

P.S. I couldn’t resist highlighting one more video: Believe it or not, my health teacher in eighth grade actually showed us this frightening 1979 film about male puberty, “Am I Normal?“—poorly timed erections and carefully coiffed hair included.

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