June 29, 2006

Supermarket Consumers

My interest in advertising cookbooks often leads me consider other aspects of consumer advertising and marketing by the food companies. I like to read about consumer behavior, supermarkets and shopping trends and the subtle marketing methods they use to get us to buy what they have to sell.

Right now I'm reading Everybody Eats: Supermarket Consumers in the 1990s, which is a book about supermarket shoppers and the factors that influence their food buying decisions. The book is written for the benefit of "retailers and manufacturers who don't want to fall behind in today's intensely competetive, overcrowded grocery industry."

Everybody knows that the milk and bread aisles are located far from the front door so that we have to walk all the way across the store to get to what we want. Chances are good we'll pick up some extras along the way.

But here's something I never thought about before--evidently it's no accident that the baby products are on the opposite side of the store from the pharmacy, the boxes of Depends and the cans of Ensure.

This is from a section called Everything Young is Old Again:

"Some of the newest products to be pitched to older people are "grown up" versions of goods usually found in the baby-food aisle. The implication that people go full circle and return to their infancy in their old age is a frightening prospect, and marketers must be careful to walk the fine line between the two product classes with diplomacy and sensitivity."

"As more products are developed to suit the needs of the aging baby boomer generation, "mature boutiques" may find their way into the foods stores--one-stop shopping for older customers to get all of the specialized items they need. Presumably these departments could be positioned away from the baby products aisle so that the products needed to ease boomers' second childhood are far away from those that evoke memories of their first."

Don't they just think of everything?

June 28, 2006

Humorous Souvenir Cookbooks

Although books like Civil Wah Cookbook from Boogar Hollow (1972, 15th Printing, 32 pp.) isn't really an advertising cookbook, I like to keep them when I run across them anyway. I rationalize that they're advertising a place, so they count.

Some are a real hoot!

These types of cookbooks are regional in nature and are usually developed for the tourist trade. You'll find them in thousands of gift shops right alongside the small cedar boxes with "The Ozarks" or "Smokey Mountains" stamped on the lids.

This one features good ol' Southern cooking' recipes with names like Cousin Arlin's Sausage Balls, Miz Saunders Beer-Chez Spread, Johnny Reb Wine, Secession Apple Pie, Miss Jane's Hot Tater Salad and Aunt Lula's Bar-B-Qued Wieners.

The Boogar Hollow series includes another cookbook, Boilin' and Bakin' in Boogar Hollow, just in case you can't get enough. If cooking isn't your bag, or that of the lucky gift recipient, there are plenty of Boggar Hollow joke books to serve as alternatives.

Depending upon the region you're visiting, you'll find these softcover souvenir cookbooks that feature everthing from Hillbilly cookin' to Old Timey Cooking to Real Amish recipes. I imagine if you were in Alaska, you'd find one that played up Eskimos and igloos. On many of the booklets, the rear cover featured a place for a stamp and an address so you could mail them off to your friends and relatives.

June 27, 2006

Delineator Institute Chicken Cookbook

The Delineator was originally a fashion magazine for women that began publication in 1873. The magazine was published by the Butterick Company and was originally used to market the sewing patterns invented by Ebenezer Butterick. Eventually the magazine expanded to other areas of interest to women in the home, and this, of course, included cooking recipes.

37 Ways to Serve Chicken (1931, 24 pp.) was published by the Delineator Institute of the Butterick Publishing Company. The copyright page of the booklet shown here states First Edition, May 1931. This was only one of several Delineator Institute cookbooklets that were issued that related to food; other service booklets covered the topics of General (Household), Fun, Manners, Decorations, Child Welfare and Beauty.

According to an order form in the rear, these booklets were available by mail order for (depending upon the title) 10 cents and 25 cents each. The Delineator Cook Book was available for $2.65.

The recipes in this booklet were developed by Ann Batchelder, a member of the Delineator Institute Staff. She was previously a food editor for Ladies' Home Journal.

By 1937 Butterick had decided to concentrate on its sewing patterns and the publishing rights to the cooking-related Delineator material were acquired by the Culinary Arts Press and the Delineator magazine was merged with another magazine popular with women, the Pictorial Review.

Here's one of Batchelder's recipes for chicken found in the booklet:


Now we're talking! Let no one turn up his or her nose at the word hash. A good word with a long lineage. I, myself, like French names on my food when I am in the frame of mind that calls for French, but when it comes to hash, no "hachis" for me. And chicken hash is no exception. Would you make some on a night for supper? Take, then, two or three cups of finely chopped cooked chicken. Add a well minced onion. Season same with salt and pepper and the tiniest bit of dry mustard. Go light on it, but do it. Put a tablespoon or so of fat into a frying pan. Add a little stock to the meat with a beaten egg. Then put into the heated frying pan and pat it into omelet shape. Brown, fold and serve on a hot platter garnished with green peppers saute and toast points.

The recipe format shown above is like that of the other recipes in the the book. No ingredient lists followed by direction lists -- simply paragraphs as they were wont to do back then. All peppered with a bit of personal talk and opinions, as if she were in the kitchen with you.

June 22, 2006

Recipe Booklets from True Story Magazine

True Story, a pulp confessional magazine that began publication in 1919, joined in with many others in trying to capture homemaker interest through the issuance of recipe booklets.

The magazine, originally aimed at attracting the interest of both male and female working-class readers, contained "true" stories, written by anonymous authors. These stories had provocative titles such as "Did I Fail as a Woman?", "I Was Only Looking for Love" and "I Took Men at Their Word". These stories were considered quite racy and controversial for the times.

During the 1920s, in an effort to increase circulation and advertising revenues, the publisher began to target women readers by providing more female-oriented advertising and topics of interest.

The dedication page of 161 New Ways to a Man's Heart (1926, 56 pp.), one of the cookbooks published by the magazine, tells the following:

"A recent letter contest conducted by True Story Magazine on the subject, "How True Story has helped to make my home life happier," brought more than seven thousand letters from all over the country. These letters emphasize more strikingly than ever before the fact that the great proportion of True Story readers are women whose chief interests lie with their homes and families. Such women are naturally interested in good cooking; and it is for their appreciation and enjoyment that the unique collection of recipes included in "161 New Ways to a Man's Heart" was compiled and published. To all True Story readers who are homekeepers as well, this book is dedicated."

The Introduction is by Phoebe Dane, who professes 30 years experience as an old-fashioned home cook, and who shares in this cookbook her mother's recipes as well as some of her own, that she has prepared and perfected over the years.

This recipe booklet was so popular that two other editions, 219 New Ways To A Man's Heart and 333 New Ways to a Man's Heart, were also published during the next few years.

Although the booklet shown here contains only a few black and white product advetisements in the rear (Carnation Milk, Knox Gelatine, Post's Bran Flakes, Lux Dishwashing Soap and Seald-Sweet Florida Oranges and Grapefruits), the later editions contained many more.

June 21, 2006

An Old Tupperware Cookbooklet

Tupperware, introduced in 1946, has been around longer than I have.

The amazing new product with its unique airtight seal was originally sold in retail stores. By 1951 the company had figured out that the home demonstration method was better for sales and switched exclusively to selling their plasticware via the Tupperware Home Party.

My first solid recollection of women entrepreneurs in action were the Avon and Tupperware ladies who were regular fixtures around the neighborhood.

Throughout the years, there have been quite a few cookbooks and recipe booklets published for use with Tupperware products. The trend continues today and includes hardcover cookbooks and recipe cards.

Beat the Blahs Recipe Ideas from Tupperware (1980, 16 pp.) was published by Meredith Publishing Services so, naturally, the recipes hold the Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchens seal of approval.

The front and rear covers feature a variety of Tupperware products in those bright orange and yellow colors that were available in the late 70's and early 80's. They squeeze in examples of a few other products while displaying the food in the illustrations inside.

The booklet has five pre-punched holes along the left edge, apparently so the booklet could be placed in a binder of some sort. Offhand, I can't recall whether or not there are other Tupperware booklets that also have these binder holes--I'll have to look.

The booklet appears to have been a handout to the customers as there is a rectangular blank spot on the rear where the consultant could stamp or write down their name and phone number.

The recipe instructions promote the products, with the tupperware item name shown in bold print amongst all the directions. Although I imagine you could get along quite nicely without using any Tupperware at all in the preparation of these recipes, the instructions tell you to use items such as the Large Mixing Bowl, the Pastry Sheet, the Mix-N-Stor pitcher, Season-Serve containers and the Handy Grater.

The recipes were used by the previous owner of this booklet at least, as evidenced by the large stain that is visible on all the pages, an accidental spill perhaps, that came about while she was preparing the Funnel Cake or Strudel recipe.

And just in case you think Tupperware is merely a food or drink container, check out what this guy has done. Very creative.

June 20, 2006

Milk Contest Cookbook

The Best Milk Recipes in America Cookbook (1998, 33 pp.) features fifteen winning recipes from the (what else?) Best Milk Recipes in America contest.

This recipe booklet was available free in supermarkets with the purchase of a gallon of milk.

The contest was sponsored by the Milk Processor Education Program and the Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies Home Journal magazines.

Contestants were required to create recipes using fat-free or low-fat milk as an ingredient. Entries could be submitted for one of seven categories: snacks and appetizers, one-dish meals and casseroles, main dishes, side dishes, breads and baked goods, hot or cold beverages and desserts.

The Grand Prize was $5,500 and a special spot for the contestant in a Milk Mustache ad in the June 1998 issue of both magazines.

The Grand Prize winning recipe, submitted by Annette Erbeck of Mason, Ohio, was for Santa Fe Grande, a spicy Mexican version of polenta that could be served as a side dish. She is shown in the Milk Mustache ad inside the front cover of the booklet with a very appropriate caption: 'For Mrs. Erbeck, cooking with milk provided numerous benefits: Calcium, Potassium, and $5500.'

Other First Prize recipes and Honorable Mention recipes in the booklet are:

Curried Baked Pork Chops - Mary Ann Lee of Marco Island, FL
Southwest Peppered Cream Chicken - Mary Hawkes of Prescott, AZ
Peanut Butter Fudge Milkshake - Rhonda Flanagan of Edwardsburg, MI
Red Pepper Soup with Shrimp - Patricia Cassaro of Dallas, TX
Rocky Road Bread Pudding - Yvonne Hynes of Vestal, NY
Italian Parmesean Dinner Rolls - Linda Hallett of Hilliard, OH
Spicy Salmon Chowder - Ellen Burr of Truro, MA
Tomato Basil Strata - Judy Rockwell of Columbia, SC
Raspberry Delight - Betsy Tjapkes of Rothbury, MI
Orange Cappuccino Shake - Miriam Baroga of Fircrest, WA
Roasted Garlic and Cheese Spread - Barbara Lento of Aliquippa, PA
Pear Clafouti - Betty J. Nichols of Eugene, OR
Apple Bran Muffins - Tish Barlew of Signal Mountain, TN
Chocolate Coffee Coconut Pie - Jeanne Walker of Oxnard, CA

Fourteen additional recipes from the Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchen round out the remainder of the booklet.

It's nicely illustrated with color photos and plenty of reminders that calcium and added nutrition play a vital role in a healthy diet.

The rear cover shows another Milk Mustache ad with celebrities Shirley Jones, Marion Ross and Florence Henderson.

June 19, 2006

Cookbooks with Old Cookbook Recipes

I like collecting original recipe pamphlets and vintage advertising cookbooks. I also like reading about those types of cookbooks.

And, judging from the emails I receive, I'm not the only one who actually uses some of the old recipes in the kitchen.

I came across two cookbooks by Bunny Crumpacker that were written based upon her own collection of vintage food company cookbooks.

The Old-Time Brand-Name Cookbook: Recipes, Illustrations, and Advice from the Early Kitchens of America's Most Trusted Food Makers (2001, 125 pages)

Recipes, anecdotes, advice and illustrations from booklets published between 1875 and 1945. Some of the booklets featured are Adventures in Cornmeal Cookery (Quaker Corn Meal), Cake Secrets (Swans Down Cake Flour), The Heinz Book of Meat Cookery (H. J. Heinz), Kate Smith's Favorite Recipes (Calumet Baking Powder) and the Royal Cook Book (Standard Brands, Inc.).

Old-Time Brand Name Desserts: Recipes, Illustrations and Advice from the Recipe Pamphlets of America's Most Trusted Food Makers (2001, 96 pages)

Dessert recipes, stories about the brand name foods, excerpts and illustrations from the old booklets which date back to 1875. Some of the recipes found are Busy Mother's Cake, Apple Custard, Upside Down Banana Cake, Chocolate Bavarian Cream and Lunch Box Cookies.

Those concerned that these old recipes might not fit into their healthy lifestyles of today needn't worry. The author has updated and adapted the recipes to reflect today's health-conscious cooking when necessary.

June 18, 2006

Sunday Morning Reading

While cruising the blogosphere over my morning coffee, I came across a nice piece about vintage cookbooks and culinary ephermera over at the Foodieporn Blog Ars Culinaria.

I'm feeling rather lazy this morning and seem to be leaning towards reading instead of writing.

June 17, 2006

Imperial Sugar Company History

Thanks to the kindness of a good friend (you know who you are), I temporarily have my hands on a copy of Sugar Land, Texas and The Imperial Sugar Company. It's fairly difficult to locate a copy, even when you're closely located to the subject matter.

I've written before about my fondness for the company's publication, My First Cookbook, because it actually was my first cookbook and sort of the beginning of my interest in advertising cookbooks.

With plans and discussions continuing about the redevelopment of the abandoned Imperial sugar refinery and property, I wanted to read more about the history of the company and the town of Sugar Land that grew around it.

The postman rang the doorbell yesterday with a package for me. What a surprise! Same wonderful person also sent me a 2000 fundraising calendar called Early Sugar Land. It's full of old photographs of the town and Imperial Sugar company buildings that are long gone.

Thanks friend!

June 16, 2006

UFCO Banana Cookbook

The United Fruit Company name existed from 1899 until 1970. They were the largest banana empire in history.

According to The United Fruit Historical Society, in 1939 "United Fruit's Home Economics Department published the first school teacher manual entitled "A Study of the Banana: The Everyday Use and Food Value." The manual gave a detailed description of the food value of bananas and gave suggestions of preparation. The success of this manual led the company to publish other school manuals in the following years for elementary to high-school students.

Between 1955 and 1962 United Fruit published around 15 million pieces of literature for students in elementary grades through high school to promote the learning of bananas and the health benefits of their consumption. These manuals were also distributed in schools around the world."

The cover of the booklet shown here, A Study of the Banana (not dated, 24 pp) states that it's a Student's Manual on the front cover. In my opinion, the illustrations inside appear to be from the late 1930s or the early 1940s.

Many of the dishes in this particular booklet (which contains 21 recipes) don't sound very appetizing: Banana Scallops, Bananas Au Gratin, Banana Rice Patties, Banana Meat Loaf and Banana Salmon Salad.

Others sound a little more palatable: Banana Cream Pie, Banana Fruit Cup, Banana Gelatin Dessert, Banana Spice Cake and Banana Tea Bread.

The illustrations and drawings are in black and white.

June 15, 2006

1950s Parties for All Occasions

Although Foodarama sounds like the name of a supermarket (and indeed there is a company by that name who operates a chain of New Jersey grocery stores), it was also the name of a side-by-side refrigerator-freezer made by Kelvinator that was introduced in 1955.

The Foodarama was a combination 6 cubic foot, upright home freezer and 12 cubic foot, self-defrosting refrigerator that were both contained in the same cabinet.

The Foodarama Party Book (1959, 128 pp) was published to help promote the idea that entertaining was a breeze if you had the help of this magnificent Kelvinator refrigerator/freezer.

"Foodarama families do more entertaining because it is so much easier. Everything is prepared in advance so you have more time to spend with your guests. There's plenty of space to store teen-age treats and Dad's favorite beverages. With Foodarama in the kitchen, Mother has more time for joining in the family fun."

The cookbook contains a lot more than just recipes. It tells you how to plan your party and includes many different ideas for themes, making guests lists, ideas for menus, table settings, decorations, party games and other entertainment ideas.

Numerous different themes and types of parties are addressed: Birthdays, Valentine's Day, Tea Parties, Ladies Bridge, Baby Showers, Easter, Wedding Anniversaries, Buffets, 4th of July, Barbecues, Picnics, Children's Parties, Teenager Parties, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Poker, Christmas, New Year's and Cocktail Parties.

This is a nice hardcover book with plenty of color food illustrations. Lots of great ideas if you want to throw an authentic 1950s party.

June 14, 2006

Delta Air Lines Cookbooks

The Women's Services Department of Delta Air Lines published a series of recipe booklets during the period between 1972 and 1979.

Each softcover booklet reflected a different U.S. regional or international cuisine:
  • Flavors of Florida (1972, 18 pp)
  • Flavors of New England (1972, 22 pp)
  • Flavors of California (1972, 22 pp)
  • Flavors of New Orleans (1972, 22 pp)
  • Flavors of the Old South (1974, 22 pp)
  • Flavors of the Caribbean (undated, 22 pp)
  • Flavors of Quebec (1976, 22 pp)
  • Flavors of Britain (1978, 30 pp)
  • Flavors of Germany (1979, 34 pp)

These are considered cross-collectibles because they appeal to both cookbook collectors and to aviation memorabilia collectors.

You can find some of these cookbooks here and here.

Here's one of the recipes from the Flavors of Quebec:


"Quebec sugar pie has as many variations as cooks but tradition demands that the filling be somewhat thin in consistency and, because of its richness, that the depth of filling be much less than for pies in general.
Nowadays the maple sugar version denotes that spring is on the way."

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Prepare sufficient pastry and line a 9-inch pie plate. Trim, flute edge, but do not prick.

Bring to a boil over low heat:
2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
2 cups soft maple sugar, chopped
1 cup heavy cream

Cook, stirring slowly, for 10 minutes, or until thickened.

Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup chopped nuts.

Cool. Pour into prepared pie shell. Bake in 375 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool. Filling will set when cold.

Delta got this recipe courtesy of the Canadian Home Economics Association.

June 13, 2006

Florida Seafood

I grew up eating fresh shrimp and seafood from the Texas Gulf Coast. Much of it was caught by family or friends. If any of it was frozen, it's because we cleaned, packaged and put it in the freezer ourselves.

Not so anymore. Time and circumstances march on, the world changes. These days I rely a lot on what's found in the supermarket seafood case.

The fresh and frozen selections come from all over the world. Some is wild and some is now farm-raised. Quality and selection varies from day to day, from store to store.

The other day while waiting for my order to be wrapped, I picked up a brochure off the top of the case, Florida Pink Shrimp Recipes (not dated, 6 pages).

This brochure was published by the Bureau of Seafood and Aquaculture Marketing, a group that provides information about Florida's seafood and aquaculture industry. This group is a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The color brochure has four recipes that use Florida Pink shrimp: Boiled Shrimp, Tortilla Towers, Sizzling Shrimp and Santa Rosa Shrimp. (It does provide some alternative seafood suggestions for each recipe) Nutritional information is also given for those who need or want to know.

When I got home, I went to their website for more recipes as was suggested in the brochure. The consumer portion of their website "provides general information about Florida seafood and aquaculture, the variety and availability of Florida products, recipes, festivals, food safety tips, and other information of interest to consumers."

On the tab marked "Brochures" I found a list of other publications they had available either through the mail or for viewing and printing via PDF files.

There were many kinds of Florida seafood recipe pamphlets to choose from: Blue Crab, Farm-Raised Catfish or Clams, Grouper, Mahi-Mahi, Oysters, Scallops, Red Snapper, Shrimp (fresh and farm-raised), Swordfish, Tilapia and Yellow Fin Tuna and others. Even Alligator, if that's to your taste.

I opted for the mail variety. I got them a couple of days ago--twenty-five new fold-out pamphlets full of recipes with tempting names that I can't wait to try.

You can order yours here. There are even a few available in Spanish.

June 12, 2006

Folger's Coffee and Mrs. Olson

Mrs. Olson's Get-Together Recipes (1973, 65 pages) was a free advertising cookbook that was given away with the purchase of a 3-lb. can of Folger's coffee.

Mrs. Olson was the well-known spokesperson for the Folger's Coffee brand. The ficticious character was created when Procter & Gamble purchased the Folgers Coffee Company in 1963. Actress Virginia Christine played the part of Mrs. Olson in the television commericals and other Folger's advertisements. The Mrs. Olson advertising campaign ran from 1963 until 1985. Virginia Christine died in 1996 at the age of 76.

The recipes in this softcover booklet are from the Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchens and will feel familiar for anyone who has used other cookbooks and recipes published by the Meredith Corporation.

There are a variety of 'family-style' recipes that range from Beverages and Breads for a Kaffee Klatch to Main Dishes and Casseroles to Desserts. Out of the total 186 recipes found in this booklet, only 15 of them actually use Folger's Coffee as an ingredient. Those 15 recipes are in the Beverages and Desserts categories.

The booklet is illustrated with many color photographs. The food styling shows many examples of dinnerware and servingware that was popular during the 1970's. There are two large photos of Mrs. Olson -- one on the front cover and another inside along with her introductory letter.

June 11, 2006

Famous Kitchen Cook Book Series

Pillsbury published a series of softcover recipe books in 1970 that were known as the Famous Kitchen Cook Books.

Each one was 96 pages in length, measured 5-1/4 x 9 inches and was illustrated with full color photographs. They sold for 98 cents apiece.

From an advertisement describing the cook books:

"Now every part of a meal, even snacks and beverges, can be your "specialty". These 8 beautiful cook books show you how to cook and serve foods with a flair. Recipes are the "best" from 8 famous kitchens, chosen by their own home economists. Included are many favorites consumers have requested throughout the years."

The eight titles in the series are:

Pillsbury's Dessert Cook Book
Kraft's Main Dish Cook Book
Lipton's Soup & Salad Cook Book
Armour's Meat Cook Book
Nabisco's Snack Book
Booth's Fish & Seafood Cook Book
Green Giant's Vegetable Cook Book
Pepsi Cola's Beverage Book

June 07, 2006

Ideas for Fruit-Fresh

Canning season is upon us and seasoned canners probably have a can of Fruit-Fresh, the ascorbic acid fruit protector, somewhere amongst their canning equipment and ingredients.

Fruit-Fresh is used to preserve the color and flavor of fresh fruits and some vegetables. It can be used in canning, freezing or drying foods, or sprinkled over fresh fruits used in salads and desserts. Fruit-Fresh keeps these foods from turning that ugly brownish color and also helps to retain the fresh flavor.

The Fruit-Fresh brand has had several owners over the years. Merck & Co., Inc. applied for the Fruit-Fresh trademark in 1957. The present day owners are The Jarden Corp. (formerly Alltrista) who also own the Ball and Kerr glass canning jar brands.

Fruit-Fresh Ideas (24 pages) is a small colorful recipe booklet published by Beecham Products that gives recipes, tips and some basic food preservation instructions for use with the product. It's undated, but looks like it may have been produced sometime in the 1980's.

Here are a few of the special hints on using Fruit-Fresh from the booklet:

  • Fruit-Fresh in frozen or canned juices. Fruit-Fresh is an excellent source of ascorbic acid. It gives frozen and canned juices a fresher, natural flavor, too. Add 1 teapsoon of Fruit-Fresh to a 6-oz. can of concentrated frozen juice or 2 teaspoons to a 12-oz. can. For canned juice, add 2 teaspoons Fruit-Fresh to a 46-oz. can.
  • For potatoes. It's ideal for keeping them white when making potato pancakes. Grate 4 medium-sized potatoes and add 1 teaspoon Fruit-Fresh to keep them from darkening. Or when making French Fries, add 1-1/2 teaspoons Fruit-Fresh to each 1 quart water used to soak the potatoes.
  • For avocados. Maintain the same tempting green shade and preserve the natural fresh flavor by coating all cut surfaces with a solution of 1 teaspoon Fruit-Fresh to each 2 tablespoons of water.
  • For peach and apple pies. Combine 1 tablespoon Fruit-Fresh with the sugar. It will preserve both the color and the flavor of the peaches and apples. Serve the pie either fresh or tuck it away in the freezer for later use.
  • For picnic packing. Peaches, apples, other fruits can be cut, tossed with Fruit-Fresh and kept fresh in covered-plastic containers until they go to the picnic table.

June 06, 2006

More Advertising Cookbooks in Spanish

I can add two more recipe booklets to my small, but growing collection of advertising cookbooks that are in the Spanish language.

They are Una Muestra de The Pampered Chef Coleccion de Recetas which are similar to the English version of The Pampered Chef Season's Best Recipe Collections.

Pampered Chef introduced the Una Muestra de The Pampered Chef in March of 2004. There are also recipe cards for Turkey and Fish that are offered in Spanish.

Una Muestra is a separate recipe collection and not just a Spanish version of Season's Best. These recipes reflect the cooking of the Hispanic culture which is why the recipes are not the same in both collections.

The two booklets shown here are not designated Spring/Summer or Fall/Winter on the front cover like their English counterparts, but it is notated on the rear cover in smaller print.

June 01, 2006

A Tour of Blue Bell Country

I finally got around to taking the tour of the Blue Bell Creameries. Blue Bell, in case you didn't know, manufactures the best tasting ice cream in the whole world.

I'd never visited previously for a couple of reasons:

1) Nobody visits what's in their own backyard until somebody comes to town who wants to go there. None of my visitors have ever wanted to go there.

(Confession time--I didn't even visit NASA's Johnson Space Center until I was 36 years old--the whole space, astronaut and moon thing went down right in the middle of my old stomping grounds and I never venutured inside the gates until an out-of-town guest insisted.)

2) I'm kind of squeamish about milk products (they're actually kind of gross); they're one of those things that even though I like to eat them, I don't like to share them off my spoon and I sure don't want to see how they're made. The possibility of the sight of one person actually touching the milk might have put me off of ice cream forever. Didn't want to take a chance.

(I once had a co-worker who had worked in a lab at Borden's Milk. Her job was tasting milk samples all day long. They couldn't have paid me all the money in the world to do that job.)

I was prompted to go to Brenham (location of the company headquarters and plant) that particular day because I was in the area hooking up with an out-of-state friend who was in Warrenton for the twice-yearly Round Top antique show and I needed to kill some time.

The tour costs $3 and you get free Blue Bell Ice cream at the end. How better to pass the time? The tour guides were both friendly and knowledgeable. I learned quite a bit about some of the company policies that help explain why their product is so good. There was nothing that contributed to my dairy product problem--I still wanted to eat ice cream when the tour was over.

I was only mildly disappointed that there were no Blue Bell advertising cookbooks or recipe pamphlets in sight.

Some of the things I learned from the tour:

1) If I ever had to work in Brenham, then I would apply at Blue Bell because the employees and their families get free ice cream.

2) Blue Bell uses the milk from cows on local farms (I believe she said within a 200 mile radius) to make the ice cream. We can almost classify this as home-grown, as hard as it is to buy food produced by local farmers in the Houston area.

3) Although they're the third best-selling ice cream in the country, they serve only 17% of the market. That's pretty impressive.

4) They don't pay for shelf space in the supermarkets here. Again, pretty impressive.

5) In order to ensure top product quality control, Blue Bell employees handle the product every bit of the way from production to delivery.

I have a new favorite flavor: Lemon Ice Box Pie. It tastes exactly like that pie that's made with a graham cracker crust, whipped topping and frozen lemonade concentrate. Unfortunately, it's one of their rotating flavors which means that I have to wait another year before I can have any more.

If you're not lucky enough to live in one of the places where you can buy Blue Bell locally, and you have deep enough pockets (for the shipping cost), you can order it from their website. Or, you can go down to Outback Steakhouse, which are everywhere in Generica, and at least try the Homemade Vanilla. Blue Bell is the brand of ice cream Outback serves with their desserts. The manager might even be kind enough to order a big tub of it for you.

Also, dry ice will keep 4 or 6 gallons nicely frozen in your cooler for about 24 hours. This information is gained from personal experience hauling it around to friends from those unfortunate states who must do without.