April 28, 2006

Canned Foods and the Wartime Consumer

The Canned Food Handbook (26 pages) was published during World War II by the American Can Company to educate consumers about commercially canned foods. This special Wartime Edition also addressed some of the issues that people faced regarding their food supply during the war.

One purpose of the booklet was to clear up some of the common misconceptions about canned foods that were prevalent at the time. Presented in a Q&A format, many of the items covered concerned food safety and the nutritional value of canned foods in general.

For example, many women were firm in their belief that canned foods should be emptied into another container as quickly as possible after the container was opened so as to avoid harmful health effects. This belief was brought on in part by the earlier labeling practices that recommended one do so. Although in reality, manufacturers were more concerned about the attractive appearance of their product after the can was opened, many consumers received the message that the food became unsafe if it wasn't immediately transferred into a different container. The booklet tries to rectify this confusion by stating that it was okay to leave the food in the cans after opening as long as they were kept cool and covered.

As was also common during this time period, manufacturers, in their quest to educate consumers so they would be more comfortable with the idea of processed foods, used scientific evidence and references to government offices to infer that their food processing practices met with the highest standards. This booklet has the Seal of Acceptance from the Council on Foods and Nutrition of the American Medical Association.

The booklet contains 38 queries in all, grouped into the four sections of General, Nutrition, Public Health Aspects, and Purchase and Use. A sampling of the questions included is:
  • What is enameled steel?
  • Do canneries use the so-called surplus crops?
  • Are cooked fruits and vegetables prepared from market more nutritious than similar canned varieties?
  • Are canned foods suitable for children?
  • Are preservatives used in canned foods?
  • Does rust on a can indicate spoilage?
  • What is the liquid in the can?
  • Should foods be heated in the can?
Special wartime considerations are touched upon in the question "What is enameled steel?"

"Enameled steel is a special material developed during the past three years for making containers for a wide variety of essential products, including certain foods. Wherever possible, the use of enameled steel in food containers is now required by the WAR PRODUCTION BOARD as one means of conserving tin."

Canned foods represented only one of the many shortages on the home front during World War II. The rear of the booklet contains a four-page List of Canned Foods that existed before the war. The War Production Board, however, restricted or prohibited production of certain items for civilian use in order to conserve metal, so the individual food items are marked with symbols that showed the foods to be classified in one of four ways:
  • Production Prohibited
  • Entire Production Scheduled for Government Purchases
  • Production Limited
  • Production Unlimited
From this list you can learn that production of canned apple butter, spiced and pickled fruits, anchovies, ready-made entrees of any type, many meats and juices, as well as many other items, was strictly prohibited.

You can find out that the production of canned crabapples, beets, catsup, grapefruit and orange juice, were just a few of the things whose production was scheduled for purchase by the government.

There are several black and white illustrations interspersed throughout the text. There are also two pages of literature references at the end of the booklet.

April 05, 2006

Fleischmann's Yeast Sour Cream Twists

Today I had an inquiry about whether or not a recipe for Sour Cream Twists was in an advertising cookbook I have listed, The Young Cook's Bake-A-Bun Book (Standard Brands Inc., 1974, 8 pp).

This is a cute booklet written for children and printed in the Fleischmann's brand colors of red, white and yellow. It contains trivia about buns and bread, a recipe for sweet buns made with cinnamon and raisins, and it's illustrated with step-by-step drawings. The instructions used the Rapidmix and Coolrise methods.

There's also an earlier booklet in this series called The Young Cook's Bake-a-Bread Book.

Although the Sour Cream Twists recipe wasn't in this particular booklet, I did find the recipe elsewhere and I'm sharing it with you below:


3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 envelope Fleischmann's RapidRise Yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 (8-oz) container sour cream
1 cup butter or margarine
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
Vanilla Glaze (recipe follows)
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds

Directions: In a large bowl, combine 1-1/4 cups flour, undissolved yeast, and salt. Heat water, sour cream, and butter until very warm (120 degrees to 130 degrees F). Gradually add to flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add eggs, vanilla, and 1/2 cup flour; beat 2 minutes at high speed. Stir in remaining flour to make a stiff batter. Cover tightly with plastic wrap; refrigerate 2 to 24 hours.

Divide dough in half, returning half to refrigerator. Roll remaining dough to 12 x 8-inch rectangle; sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar. Fold ends of dough over center (like folding a letter). Repeat rolling, sprinkling with sugar, and folding procedure twice more. Roll dough to 12 x 6-inch rectangle. Cut into 24 strips, 6 inches long and 1/2-inch wide. Twist each strip 3 to 4 times; place on greased baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough and sugar. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place for 30 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 15 to 17 minutes or until done. Remove from sheets; cool on wire racks. Drizzle with Vanilla Glaze; sprinkle with chopped almonds.

Vanilla Glaze: In a small bowl, combine 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted; 3 to 4 tablespoons water, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir until smooth.

Makes 48 twists