October 10, 2007

Arm & Hammer Soda

If you happen to come across any current promotional material for ARM & HAMMER, you'd have difficulty guessing that the company wanted you to use their baking soda as an ingredient in your baking. Instead, you're much more likely to see the familiar red and yellow box sitting on a shelf in a refrigerator being used to absorb odors.

In the early years of the product's history, the use of bicarbonate of soda by home bakers was heavily promoted through magazine ads and by the distribution of millions of recipe booklets.

The booklet shown at the left, Book of Valuable Recipes (1917, 32 pp.) was published in numerous editions for almost 100 years. The 70th Edition is shown here. Many other recipe pamphlet titles were published besides this one. As home baking declined due to the increased use of convenience foods, their advertising began to focus more on the use of baking soda as cleaning and personal care products.

There are many recipes (41 in all) in the booklet including the one below. Note that lard is used for frying and the storage method is in a stone crock.


1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup thick sour Cream, or soft Butter or Lard
5 to 6 cups flour
2 Eggs
2-1/2 cups sour Milk or Buttermilk
1 rounded teaspoonful Arm & Hammer Soda
1 teaspoonful Mace or Nutmeg

Beat together the sugar, eggs and thick sour cream or soft butter or lard. Pour in the sour milk or buttermik and Arm & Hammer Soda. Then mix very lightly with the sifted flour. For flavor use mace or nutmeg. This dough should not be very stiff and not worked much, otherwise the crullers will be tough. Roll out a half inch thick cut in the shape desired and let raise a few minutes, until the lard gets well heated. When raised and brown on bottom, turn with a fork. The fat must sizzle when you put a few drops of water in it. Otherwise it is not hot enough. These crullers will keep fresh for a week in a stone crock.

Although primarily a booklet of recipes, Church & Dwight didn't neglect to include other information in the pamphlet they thought might be useful to the consumer. The 70th Edition included a Perpetual Calendar inside the front cover covering the years 1908 through 1919.

Another section admonishes thrifty and efficient consumers not to waste money buying Baking Powder and includes several pages of fine print dedicated to convincing them that Soda was better.

The rear of the booklet contains Kitchen Weights and Measures and includes the gill measurement "4 gills equals 1 pint". As a unit of measurement in the U.S., 1 gill is equal to 4 fluid ounces. This term is not used anymore but can often be found in older cookbooks.

Timetables for for boiling, baking and broiling meats and vegetables are shown on another page. Common vegetables at that time included asparagus, beets, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, green corn, lima beans, onions, parsnips, peas, potatoes, spinach, spring beans and turnips. Meats seem to encompass chicken, corned beef, ham, mutton, pot roast beef, turkey, fish, beef ribs, goose, steak, grouse, quail, squabs, venison, veal, ducks and partridge.

Three pages are devoted to other various uses of Arm & Hammer Soda--in cooking, for the farmer, for the home nurse and "here and there about the house."

There are also four pages of tiny print devoted exclusively to matters pertaining to the United States Postal Service. This information includes both domestic and foreign postage rates and categories of service, the money order system, and postal regulations. Why this information is included, I don't know. I can't see any food manufacturer giving over one inch of advertising space today for the USPS unless big bucks change hands.

Indeed, their website today is a maze of clean-and-deodorize this and clean-and-deodorize that, be it your home, car or body. Scaring us to death about germs seems to be the name of the game ($$$) now. One has to dig a little deeper to find anything related to baking. I guess they figure that their marketing job is mostly "done" in the cooking department.

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At 2:44 PM CST, Blogger ~~louise~~ said...

WOW! The search engine is working out GREAT. I did a quick search (blogs only) before posting for National Bicarbonate of Soda Day (12/30) and I found this GREAT post of yours. Going to use the link. I hope you don't mind. The Cruller recipe actually sounds pretty good.

You get the feeling the bleach people are doing the same as the baking soda people, scaring us to death with germs which can only be abolished by the use of their products??

Thanks for sharing Kathy:)


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