July 15, 2006

Kraft and Salads

I've been reading Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads by Sylvia Lovegren, which looks at the culinary history of America from the 1920's through the 1990's. The material is informative, slightly humorous, and I'm reading it much like I would a novel.

In the first chapter, she examines the the salads of the Twenties. She describes the ideal salad at that time as one "in which the ingredients were unrecognizable, masked, or masquerading as something else." During this decade, canned fruits and vegetables were preferable over fresh and the use of lettuce was minimal, except in the Caesar Salad, which came into being during this time. Congealed gelatin salads and frozen salads, the sweeter the better, were the rage.

Pickles, eggs, chicken, seafood, canned pineapple, mayonnaise and marshmallows were popular ingredients which found their way into many of the salads of that era.

Kraft is one food processing company that still produces and promotes some of those 1920's salad recipe ingredients: marshmallows, mayonnaise and salad dressing. Although many of the ingredients are the same in modern salads, the end results seem a bit more palatable and not such a mish-mash.

There are twelve recipes given in the pamphlet, Salad Recipes from Kraft (1989, 6 pp). Lettuce plays a part in three of the dishes: Summer Vegetables and Chicken, Taco Chili Salad and Vegetable Salad Stack-Up. All twelve of the recipes call for fresh fruits and vegetables rather than canned, exept for Fruit and Mallow Toss that uses, guess what?--canned pineapple.

Marshmallows still appear in the fruit salad recipes for Marshamallow Fruit Medley, Marshmallow Waldorf Salad and the Fruit and Mallow Toss. Kraft Mayonnaise or Kraft Miracle Whip are used as binding agents in eight of the recipes with the Italian Pasta Salad and the Marinated Ravioli Vegetable Platter and Summer Vegetables & Chicken calling for bottled Kraft dressings.

I wonder what the salads will be like sixty years from now? Given their past history, they'll probably still contain marshmallows and mayonnaise in one form or another.


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