October 30, 2008

Burnett's Color Paste

Doubly Delicious Desserts (not dated, 48 pages) was one of several recipe booklets published by the Joseph Burnett Company of Boston, Massachusetts. Although the booklet is not dated, magazine and other periodical advertisements from the late 1920s and early 1930s contain mail-in offers for this title.

The color illustrations, all signed by a Mary Briggs, are similar to many other illustrations found in recipe booklets and cookbooks of this same time period. I wonder if she was an in-house illustrator or if she had her work published in other cookbooks?

The Joseph Burnett Co. was established in 1847 in the city of Boston. Besides Vanilla extract, their flagship product, they were also known for manufacturing personal and medicinal items, eventually expanding their product line to include extracts in over thirty other flavors, spices and color pastes that could be used to decorate and enhance the appearance of foods. In later years the company also produced ice cream mixes, muffin mixes and pudding mixes.

Besides the food illustrations, the only other illustration in the booklet is this one of their company located at 437-447 D St. in Boston.

The booklet title might indicate that only dessert recipes are to be found inside. It does cover this realm adequately, with recipes for cookies, cakes, frostings, candy, pies, ice cream, puddings and jellies. To reflect the new popularity and affordability of electric refrigerators, the booklet also includes recipes for both frozen and refrigerator desserts.

Besides sweets, the booklet also contains recipes for beverages, sauces, sandwiches, curry, poultry dressings along with a few recipes for main dishes, salads and soups.

I always like how these older cookbooks suggest ideas for an invalid diet. A menu suggestion and recipes are recommended for an "Invalid's Tray" which had the indisposed person ingesting Chocolate Mint Egg-Nog, Creamed Chicken and Snow Pudding with Custard Sauce.

Burnett's Color Paste, introduced around 1894, is one of the Burnett products featured prominently in the recipes. This photo of a box containing a 1/4 ounce jar of Burnett's Color Paste is not from the recipe booklet but from another advertising leaflet.

Although I'm not sure of the original colors, the Burnett's Color Pastes available in 1906 included these colors with fanciful, descriptive names: Leaf Green, Mandarin Orange, Fruit Red, Golden Yellow, Damask Rose, Violet, Caramel, Chestnut, Salmon and Imperial Blue.

By 1918, the fanciful names had been dropped in favor of those far more plain: Orange, Caramel, Blue, Rose, Green, Yellow, Scarlet, Chestnut and Red.

These same colors, with the addition of a Crimson (possibly a renamed Scarlet?), Violet, Pink and Black were the colors available about the time Doubly Delicious Desserts was published.

By 1933, the colors were available in both paste and tablet form and the color paste list included little more than the basics: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Violet, Blue and Rose.

Sometime around 1939, the company also introduced Burnett's Liquid Color, in a "Color Kit," which was a small rectangular box containing four bottles of food coloring in the primary colors colors of Red, Blue and Yellow and also the secondary color Green.

In the event one needed help in deciding what to do with the color pastes, the booklet listed these ideas:


To Color Fruit - If using fresh fruit, use water as the liquid. If using canned fruit use fruit juice as the liquid. Bring liquid to boil and add enough Burnett's Color Paste to give the desired color. Place pieces of fruit in the liquid and allow to stand until cold or until fruit has taken up the desired color. Fruit will absorb color. Pears, pineapple, apple, white cherries, lemon or peaches can be colored in this way.

To Color Frosting - Place a small amount of Burnett's Color Paste on the side of the bowl in which you have made the frosting until you hve the desired color. The smaller amount used the more delicate the color. In making two or three different colors divide frosting and proceed as above.

To Color Water - Use just enough to color.

To Color Cream - Color as desired.

To Color Flowers - Slit stem three times, about one inch up, and let stand in a cool place for twenty-four hours, in water which has been well colored, say one-quarter of a jar to a tumbler of water. White flowers can be colored any shade to match any color scheme in this way.

To Color Ice Cubes in Electric Refrigerator - (a) Whole cubes may be colored one color. (b) White cubes may have colored centers. Place clear water in the icing pan and set in icing unit for about one hour. Remove cubes from pan and punch hole in each cube, and allow water in center to drain out. Refill each cube with cold water which has been colored any desired shade with Burnett's Color Paste and continue freezing.

To Color Cream Cheese for Sandwiches.

To Color Easter Eggs.

To Color Hard-Cooked Eggs for a Garnish.

To Color Granulated Sugar - Take a small amount of granulated sugar, as much Burnett's Color Paste as can be held on the end of a sharp pointed paring knife, and a few drops of water. Work with the fingers until the sugar has taken up the color. Allow to dry and roll out umps with a rolling pin, or break up with the fingers.

To Color Cocoanut -- Color same as fruit. Allow cocoanut to dry before using.

To Color Cake Batter - Delicate shades of pink and chocolate for the checkerboard cake.

Yellow color paste is used with flour or cornstarch to substitue for egg yolks, in fillings and boiled dressings.

The Caramel Color Paste will darken gravies and soups.

It's difficult to imagine anyone today, or even back then, taking the time to make the ice cubes with colored centers. Well, maybe for a small luncheon for four, but certainly not a party for thirty. (Not that the ice unit would have held that many cubes anyway.) Many of the other suggestions remain as common uses for food colorings today.

The photo below shows some suggested color schemes that could be achieved using Burnett's Color Pastes, Extracts and Spices.

What did folks do before the convenience of commerically produced color pastes and liquid food colorings in nice, neat little jars and bottles? The Old Foodie has several posts earlier this month (Oct. 6-9) that address this very question.

October 20, 2008

Recipes Lost and Found

Another Karo cookbook again today. No, I promise this isn't turning into the Karo Syrup blog. It's just a coincidence.

It's getting close to the holidays again. That means lots of cookbook and recipe inquiries for Karo Syrup and Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk. Sometimes I think those must be the two most popular holiday cooking ingredients besides turkey.

I promised a lady on the telephone this morning that I would post this recipe. She called to see if it was in one of the Karo cookbooks. Her recipe got lost in a wildfire.

I also posted the recipe here, where there's a link to a format that's easily printable.


1-1/3 cups sifted cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup Mazola or Nucoa margarine
2 eggs, unbeaten
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup flaked coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift flour with baking powder and salt. Cream sugar and margarine, beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in nuts, coconut, and vanilla, then dry ingredients. Spread batter evenly in a well-greased, lightly floured 11x15x1-inch pan. Prepare topping and drizzle while hot over batter. Bake in 350°F. (moderate) oven 1/2 hour. Cool in pan 1/2 hour. Cut into bars and remove carefully from pan.

Stir 3/4 cup brown sugar with 2 tablespoons Mazola or Nucoa margarine, 3 tablespoons light cream and 1/4 cup Karo Blue Label Syrup in saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, to 234°F. or until a little mixture forms a soft ball in very cold water. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Drizzle over batter.

I promised another recipe a couple of weeks ago, but that lady probably already has her cookbook by now and doesn't need it. She had lost the original that was in a booklet that came with her International Cookware. I hope the mail was faster than I was in posting this recipe.


1 medium cauliflower head
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 T. butter
2/3 c. chopped onion
2 T. flour
2 c. half and half
1/2 t. worcestershire sauce
3/4 t. salt
1 c. grated Cheddar cheese
Chopped Parsley

6 servings

Cut cauliflower heads into tiny flowerets. Cook in 3 cups boiling water in 2 quart saucepan until tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add bouillon cubes. Set aside.

Melt butter in 3 quart saucepan; add onion and cauliflower gradually, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in half and half, worcestershire sauce, and asalt. Heat to boiling; stir in cheese. Garnish with parsley.

To Nancy, who lost her A.1. Sauce booklet in Hurricane Katrina: I'm still looking for that one.

To the folks who have called because of my listing for a Popeil's Automatic Pasta Maker booklet and who are looking for replacement parts or have questions regarding the product: I'm sorry I can't help you--I only have the one copy of the recipe and instruction booklet. Maybe Ronco can help if you contact them. Good luck.

October 16, 2008

Man, oh Manischewitz!

No matter what I'm doing, I always have a book or two going. Usually one is fiction and the other non-fiction. My interest in product cookbooks and food companies in general have led to some really interesting reading. There are more books about individual food companies than I ever knew.

While out at Round-Top earlier in the month, I naturally carried a book with me. I didn't expect to get much reading done, but as it turned out, I was able to start and finish Manischewitz: The Matzo Family in only a couple of days.

Manischewitz, maker of matzo, wine and other processed kosher food products, is the leading brand of this type of food in the United States. Even if one is non-Jewish and unfamiliar with their products, it would be hard to miss the display of their brightly colored packages in the aisles of grocery stores everywhere.

The author, Laura Manischewitz Alpern, is the great-granddaughter of Dov Behr Manischewitz, the founder of the company. Although he passed away thirty-one years before she was born, she grew up hearing stories about him and has managed to relate his tale, and her family's, in a story that reads as smoothly and entertainingly as fiction.

The beginning of the book contains the Manischewitz family tree. I spent two or three hours contemplating this page alone.

Behr Manischewitz and his wife Nesha Rose had eight children: three daughters and five sons. There were eighteen grandchildren, thirty-one great-grandchildren and thirty-six great-great grandchildren. As of 1999 there were thirteen great-great-great grandchildren.

With this large a family, there was a lot to think about, what with all the names, dates of births and deaths, marriages and divorces, my speculation about in-laws and out-laws, their occupations and so on. I referred back to this family tree many times during my reading.

The company was sold and passed out of family control in 1990. How did a successful, thriving family business come to be sold to an impersonal conglomerate after 103 years? This question, perhaps more than any other, was at the back of my mind the entire time I read the book.

In my last post, I ruminated about not being able to find anything readily available about the early history of the Shefford Cheese Company, which is only one of many such instances I have encountered.

Perhaps that explains why I enjoyed this book so much--the history's all there, contained in a neat and tidy package. Did I mention that the book also has pictures? Not just of the products, but also of the family. I love pictures. They made the story that much more real.

Even if one has no time to read the entire book, the five-page Introduction by Jonathan D. Sarna is worth the time. His summarization of the B. Manischewitz empire is quite interesting in itself.

Besides the regular Manischewitz brand website, there's also an additional site dedicated to the celebration of the company's 120th anniversary. Some of their earlier recipe books are shown in the "Manischewitz Memorabilia" section. Another section, "Your Memories," although not recently updated, is fueled by reader contributions, which also provides us with a nostalgic history of the brand from the consumer viewpoint.

A few days ago I visited my favorite area used bookstore. I've been visting this store since 1985 and never fail to find interesting out of print non-fiction books on a variety of subjects. That day I hit pay dirt in the food company history area. It was obvious that someone with reading tastes similar to mine had turned in a nice batch of books for credit. Lucky me. Among other things, I found:

Candy Freak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America

Pure Ketchup: A History of America's National Condiment

Built on Chocolate: The Story of the Hershey Chocolate Company

A Romance with Baking: A Millennium Dedication to the American Flour Milling Industry

And so my reading stack grows even higher and my floor sags a little lower. I look forward to obtaining the answers to many more of my questions.

October 13, 2008

Shefford Cheese Company

Sometimes a recipe booklet appears in my pile that's advertising a brand I've never heard of and can't find very much information on. Such is the case with Shefford Cheese Recipes (1935, 32 pages).

The first page shows the booklet to be authored by one Alberta Winthrop. Was Alberta a real person? Or was she one of those invented spokespersons who mysteriously head up the Home Economic Departments of some food companies? My research fails to return anything on the mysterious Alberta other than her name on other Shefford Cheese cookbooks.

The title page lists locations for the Shefford Cheese Co., Inc. as Syracuse, N. Y., Green Bay, Wis., Jersey City, N. J. and Dallas, Tex.

Their product line in 1935 included:

  • 1/2 lb. packages of American Cheese, Pimiento Cheese, Olde Yorke Cheese, White American Cheese, Chevelle, Chevelle with Pimiento, and Swiss Cheese

  • Shefford Cheese Spreads in "smart" beverage glasses in these tempting flavors: Pimiento, Pimiento with Olives, Pineapple Cream, Roquefort, Olde Yorke, Limburger, Swiss and Cheese Relish.

  • Shefford Snappy Cheese

  • Shefford Cream Cheese

This recipe features the use of canned soup and Shefford Cream Cheese. Amazing how many years we've been doctoring up canned soups.


1 Shefford Cream Cheese
1 can tomato soup
1 can crab meat
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat tomato soup. Flake crab meat and add. Salt. Break Cream Cheese and add. Stir thoroughly while heating--but do not boil. Serve on fresh toast or in ramekins.

Shefford claims to be the first manufacturer of packaged cheese in America. Whether or not this is actually true, I don't know, as I've noticed many food companies claiming to the first in something when it wasn't necessarily so.

And what was Snappy Cheese exactly? This particular booklet doesn't give much information:

It is prepared in a convenient form which prevents hardening. In using it you simply break it apart with a fork, or spread it for sandwiches. It can easily be molded into fancy shapes for garnishing or cut with a knife into convenient sizes for salads or for pie. SHEFFORD SNAPPY CHEESE melts perfectly in cooking.
I have messed around with this post for over a week now, searching in vain for information about the early history of the company.

The earliest mention of the company that I can find is in an interesting paper (PDF file) from the Ontario Heritage Foundation which mentions that James Lewis Kraft briefly worked for Shefford:

In 1902, his initiative took him to Buffalo where he worked as secretary and treasurer of the Shefford Cheese Company. The following year, Kraft went to Chicago where, with $65 in capital, he rented a horse and wagon and established his own business of buying cheese wholesale and selling it to local grocers.
I did notice that their product line, including the Swankyswig-like cheese glasses, closely resembled that of Kraft brand cheeses. Their Chevelle cheese was similar to Kraft's Velveeta.

This page, addressing some of the history of Chittenango, New York says:

On January 15,1915 the Shefford Cheese factory was finally opened. The Shefford Cheese Co. of Syracuse purchased the Old Stone Mill. The Factory made dairy products, mainly cheese and butter. It helped famers with their income. In February of 1915,there were 60 farmers who brought their milk to the creamery on a daily basis. Farmers of the community were paid about 5,000 dollars monthly.The factory employed the greatest number of people of any business in the village and its business increased.
Connecticut History Online has a nice old photo of a Shefford Snappy Cheese truck taken in 1925.

The company history is scarce until January 1944 when Standard Brands, Inc. announced that the company had acquired all of the outstanding capital stock of Shefford Cheese Company, Inc. of Green Bay, Wis., formerly wholly owned by Kingan Co., Inc. of Indianapolis.

This site mentions that Shefford was dissolved in 1946 by the Fleischmann Company. Fleischmann Co. was one of several companies that merged in 1929 to form Standard Brands.

The year 1946 about the time the colorful magazine advertisements and the Shefford Chef disappeared.

If anyone knows anything about the early history of Shefford Cheese, please enlighten me.

October 06, 2008

A Return to Regular Programming

I'm finally released from my sales duties in the Texas countryside where the lack of an internet conection for the major portion of each day has left me way behind in the goings-on in the blog world, not to mention all the breaking news that I now must read about after the fact. (I'm a bit of a news junkie.)

The show was fun although the traffic was bit light this Fall. Whether or not the smaller crowd was due to the hurricane, the economy or the upcoming election, it was fodder for endless speculation amongst the hundreds of vendors found up and down the roads.

I was able to visit with old flea market friends that I don't see regularly anymore, and who don't quite understand what it is I do with all these old cookbooks and the internet. Most of the time, their eyes tend to glaze over whenever I mention a computer. I've found it easiest to just reply "I sell cookbooks" when they ask what I'm doing now. Selling, they can relate to; blogging and maintaining websites, mostly not their cup of tea.

I got a glimpse of the queen of Shabby Chic, Rachel Ashwell, and I continue to be amazed by her ability to walk through heaps of old furniture and salvaged items, knowing exactly what she's looking for and picking it out in record time. Sadly, I lack her talent which enables one to make a silk purse out of what many would consider to be a sow's ear.

Foodwise, I met a nice young couple from Yonder Way Farm, located in a neighboring town, who have ventured into the world of grass-fed beef and pastured pork and poultry. I look forward to a visit to their farm after I've caught up with things around here.

I'm embarrassed to say that on account of my absence, I'm also late to acknowledge my very first blog award, given to me by Louise over at Months of Edible Celebrations. Thanks, Louise! I'll have to think about what to do now, but I must confess that I'm more of a blog reader than a commenter. I read a lot of blogs, food-related and otherwise, but I tend to stay in the background for the most part. Perhaps I need to work on that!

Below you'll find one last scrap of information that might be useful to you from the Corn Products Cook Book and then we'll put that one to rest. (Finally! some of you may be thinking.)

These tips concern Kingsford's Corn Starch and Karo Syrup, the products highlighted in the booklet. I see no reason why some of them might not still be viable today.

Miscellaneous Suggestions

  • When baking ham, if Karo Syrup is substituted for brown sugar to nmix with the bread crumbs and yolk of egg with which it is covered before the final browning, a finer flavor will be obtained.
  • Brushing pastry lightly with Karo Syrup will give it that fine glaze considered so desirable.
  • A tablespoon Karo Syrup stirred into griddle cakes (not enough to sweeten) will materially assist in the process of browning. A small proportion of Kingsford's Cornstarch will improve their texture.
  • When cooking with Karo Srup over a quick fire, to prevent from possibility of burning, drop in three or four stone marbles ("agates," as the boys call them). The heat will keep these constantly on the move and will not only prevent the burning but will do most of the stirring.
  • In making cakes, etc., where Karo Syrup is used, alwasy stir the soda into the syrup.
  • If your fire is quite hot and you are afraid that your Karo Syrup will boil over, butter the inside of the vessel about two inches from the top. The syrup will not rise higher than the butter.
  • In making panckaes, use one-third Kingsford's Cornstarch instead of all flour.
  • When eggs are scarse and several are used, a teaspoonful Kingsford's Cornstarch may be used very satisfactorily in place of one egg.
  • All kinds of crusts, steamed puddings and dumplings are much better when part Kingsford's Cornstarch is used in place of all flour.
  • When short of cream in an emergency, Kingsford's Cornstarch, with milk and egg, makes a good substitute.
  • To prevent icing from running off while being spread, lightly dust the cake with Kingsford's Cornstarch.
  • A little Kingsford's Cornstarch introduced into a juicy fruit pie, such as rhubarb, cherry, etc., prevents its running over.
  • A pinch of Kingsford's Cornstarch is fine to powder candies, such as marshmallows, etc.
  • The wholesomeness of Kingsford's Cornstarch, and the ease with which it is assimilated, makes it much more desirable than flour for things prepared for the very young, the very old, the delicate.

And now my Dad has just delivered to me 27 pounds of freshly picked pears that he got this weekend while visiting Canton First Monday Trade Days.

Note to Self: Add Pear Butter to Things to Do list.

And now I'm off to catch up on my reading.