September 25, 2008

Marion Harland and Karo Syrup

Still examining the Corn Products Cook Book from the other day, I finally get as far as inside the front cover.

There I find an endorsement for Karo Syrup by Marion Harland, a pseudonym used by household advice and cookbook author Mary Virginia Terhune. An excellent post on this woman can be found over at Months of Edible Celebrations. No doubt her popularity with housewives was the reason the Corn Products Refining Co. chose to use her as part of their advertising.

I do not hesitate to award Karo the preference above any other table syrup used in my household.

As an accompaniment to waffles and griddle-cakes it deserves all that can be said in praise of it. It is as clear and as sweet as honey and richer in consistency, without the cloying quality that makes honey distasteful to some, and unwholesome if eaten freely.

I have also used Karo in the preparation of puddings and gingerbread, with satisfactory results. The candies made from it are pure and delicious.

This seemingly innocuous endorsement stirred up quite a hornet's (bee's?) nest with those in the honey industry. The January 1912 issue of the American Bee Journal contains a couple of references to her endorsement and they're not very flattering. An excerpt from one of the references is below. Check out the link to the remainder of the article--there was a great deal of concern that people might choose this product over honey.

(Karo) Glucose vs Honey Fraud in Advertising
By Dr. A. F. Bonney

No, there was no "gasping with astonishment" on the appearance of Marion Harland's article advertising Karo Corn Syrup, except on the part of the few bee men observing enough to see it. They (the bee men) might have thought a little helpless profanity but they are so used to seeing patent medicine advertisements, gold brick schemes, bluffs, rot gut whiskey, and other alluring literature, that they would scarcely see the article complained of in the editorial in the November American Bee Journal.

Personally, I believe Marion Harland pulled down a nice little wad of "long green" for this piece of literature, otherwise she is as ignorant as an Indian. That is all I have to say; there is no other explanation for the rankest piece of writing that ever appeared. More, she probably merely sold her signature, the glucose people having done the "writing."

I think we should felicitate ourselves that the Karo people take the trouble thus to advertise honey, for that is what they are doing every time they use the word for no one will believe what they claim, that the glucose compound is good as honey. American Bee Journal

I love how the writer refers to "the glucose people" and "the Karo people." I wonder if those at the Corn Products Refining Co. referred to the bee men as "the bee people."

The article also refers to an editorial in the November 1911 issue about this same advertisement, which gives us the second clue as to the publication date of the cookbook.

The honey industry published many of their own promotional cookbooks too. Once again, I'll send you over to Months of Edible Celebrations where she has a great article on honey.


At 1:37 PM CDT, Blogger ~~louise~~ said...

Hi Kathy,
What a wonderfully informative post. It blends in so well with National Honey Month that I have revised my honey post to include a link to your Marion Harland, Karo Syrup post. Thanks so much for including me in your post. It was so "sweet" of you:)

I hope you've gotten a chance to rest from your temporary "job."

At 9:29 AM CDT, Blogger ~~louise~~ said...

Hi Kathy,
When you get a moment, drop by "my place," I posted an award for you!

At 4:37 AM CDT, Blogger Jacquelyn: Because I Said So! said...

Hi Kathy!

What a fabulous blog! My collection of retro cookbooks is very, very humble.

I come to you by way of a search for a cookbook that I would love to own. You left a comment on the Peanut's Cookbook, Scholastic Books, 1970, saying that you'd sold every one you'd come across. If you ever come across one or two or three again, I'll buy them from you. My two sisters and I lived on the food we made from that book for years. I haven't seen one in 30 years at least, and would be SO happy to be able to get one for each of us as a project.

Please email me if you ever get another, or know where I could buy one. I'm in Toronto, Ontario, if that means anything. Thanks in advance, and I'll be passing your URL to my one sister who collects more on your scale.

At 6:43 AM CDT, Blogger Kathy said...

louise - Thanks so much for the award.

jacquelyn - Thanks for visiting my blog! I don't have any copies right now but I'll email you when I find more. I love to hear about favorite cookbooks.


Post a Comment

<< Home