(+ magazines & more)
This page is dedicated to a granddaughter born in 2003, who has now already gotten a 2-year Culinary Arts Pastry degree. How time flies! And because 1500 miles separates us, she's not been at my house to get to rummage through & learn of alllll the "stuff" of the baking world from throughout my mother's (a recipe saver) & my lifetimes.
So, not only for my granddaughter, but for all people who are interested in 1) the American culture of baking history, 2) old cookbooks & recipes, 3) the influence immigrants had on our baking culture, and 4) how our grandmothers lived "in their day" (i.e. wondering what resources they had for baking in their wood-burning stoves), this is just a sketch of some of what I know which began by learning from my mom. Culinary students, food writers, etc., in the various regions of the country could do entire research studies on which cookbooks & magazines had the major influence on the Baby Boomers living in their state area & could have many additions to this website info page.
Also, (in time) I am going to include what I know of the main "women's" & some other magazines during the 1900s which included recipes. Magazines could cover the various foods from the many different nationalities throughout the entire country because subscribers were country wide! It was an affordable way for women in the home to learn of new recipes for variety. That's why magazines have had such a great impact on our food culture.
I am not a "schooled/professional" expert in this subject, but this will be a jumpstart of some of what's been in the past 100 years, based on what I've learned during all my 75+ years already. So, to help younger people know some of the past related to their food interests today, & for anyone in general to have this kind of knowledge, this can be a beginner's guide & then you can continue to discover according to your own personal interests.
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Just realize that there are 10s of 1000s of "cookbooks" today! Years ago I read that early on, Food Network had a resource library of 40K, but doing a search, 40K is attributed to the Library of Congress, so I believe one can't be correct?!? I met a culinary teacher who has 10,000, so who knows! You can do a "search" & type in all sorts of "giving away ..., donating ..., collecting ..., de-cluttering ..., how to rid myself of ..., letting go of COOKBOOKS," & read for hours & days about people wanting to know what to do with all the cookbooks they've accumulated through their decades! Some years back I read an article where a lady had "a precious cookbook collection" of 400 "treasures" from over many years of her life, & she donated them to her local library in belief that they would become part of a preserved archive of cookbooks (some evidently quite old). Sometime later she read a local library notice that there would be a book sale of 400 cookbooks. She said she had ALL SHE COULD DO to NOT go back to the library & buy every one of her books back!
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If you do want to begin your own resource - collection - shelf - or "library" of older, or another food-book category, try to first narrow it down to the subject area you're most interested in because even the general area of "baking" is overwhelming within the "food/cookbook" genre. Or set a limit (for several reasons), & when you find "just one more," can you get rid of "one?" Ask yourself about your "need" vs. "desire" vs. something else. What's your objective?
I'll read food books that have a lot more information, history, cultural info, etc., along with recipes, like some people read novels, & I've learned much that way. Also, ask what fits into your lifestyle. If you have an empty wall where you can build floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, & "the hunt" for a specific category becomes a life-long love, & you read or skim through them, go for it :)! But will you also be able to let them go if need be (like moving)?!?
If you only need cookbooks for your own cooking/baking, a dozen or 2 "basics" should set you for life (with some spiral-bound). OR if you have 2-3-10 magazine subscriptions which have recipes, you'll have all you'll need for a month or more of new menus with each issue.
Also, if you do subscribe to "food" & what used to be thought of as "women's" magazines, the latter which have a recipe section, will you be able to tear it apart & keep & "file" only the recipes you might like to make someday, & throw the rest of the magazine away? (I have some boxes in the garage from twice cleaning out Mom's houses, which are filled with tear-out pages of her magazines mainly from the 1930s through the 1970s. (I'm waiting for this National Bread Museum to exist "on land" so there's a depository for those filled boxes! I keep thinking "history!")
So next is the Q - Where to find "what you'll consider to be a treasure . . . and at a bargain price?" Thrift shops/Second-hand stores today are amazing because we Baby Boomers are moving (or dying). We keep hearing that the "younger/adult children" don't want anything they aren't using. (NOTE: Make a list of all these shops in your area & gradually check them all out to see what their price range is, so you know. Some stores in my area have a "many dollar" tag on each! Then some have a flat $1-2 or 3/$5 hardback, & 5/$2 soft cover, but the best is this one place where EACH is 40¢ - hard or soft. That means alllll the old spiral bound, usually fund-raising recipe books, of all tried 'n true recipes with a contributing lady's name attached, are almost free! And they were the best & most often-made recipes or a lady wouldn't want her name with it. No photos, but 9 out of 10 recipes are the treasures handed down.)
The other great bargain-price places are usually garage sales, church rummage sales, library sales, & sometimes "salvage" places. Also, spread the word amongst family & friends that if anyone they know is moving or has any OLD "cookbooks" that they're getting rid of, you'd like them. That way you can go through, pick & choose, & pass on (like to the local library sale, thrift shop, or in your/someone's Little Free Library).
The next "bargain or not" price level is at estate sales, flea markets, used book stores, & eBay, & that whole world. Beyond that are retail bookstores & elsewhere where you're paying the retail price. OR, you just make your own binder or card file if you copy off the internet with a few million recipes at your fingertips :) !!!
I believe it's good if every young person, going out on their own, has 1-3 of the old, what I call "spiral bound," softcover cookbooks from community groups, usually sold as a fund raiser. All the recipes were contributed by people of that community group & were actually made & loved by the contributor. The recipes are usually quite simple & basic, made with common ingredients. The downfall, most younger people would say, is that there are no photos. If you want that, look for the older Taste of Home, All Recipes, Food Network, BH&G, Southern Living, Bon Appetit, Woman's Day, Good Housekeeping, Midwest Living, bake FROM SCRATCH, or other "food-included" magazines, & many had "annual" hardback cookbooks, which always have photos with all their recipes.
Enjoy the read! It may be enough to "know," & not get into any of the "have" - - unless it's Mom's or Grandma's cookbooks with their hand-written notes :). My mom's several cookbooks are also personal diaries w/names, dates, & happenings!! For my main 50 years of making meals, I've always had a good supply of some books, but also, lots of magazines - especially when the holidays rolled around. I look at all of those now & think of how the few from the 1970s @ $1.25-$2 were carefully chosen. But during the '80s there was a bit more money - since I see a large stack of those holiday issues @ $2-$2.95. Then a 1991 issue was $3. Just think - 10 years to go up $1.00. And for years now, every recipe I make ends up in a "card file." It's the only way for me to find it again & relive memories.
This is an index of the following books and other info on this page so you'll have some idea of where to find what!
American Cookery--1796 by Amelia Simmons
Mrs. Beeton's Household Management - 1861
The Boston Cooking School (1896-1945)
Fanny Farmer (name change from above)
The Settlement Cookbook (1901)
1930 - 1940s
Better Homes & Gardens (a checkered past)
Joy of Cooking (1931)
Radio in the 1930s
WWII (depression 1930s; war 1940s; tough times)
1940S - today
Mom's 3-ring Homemade
The Modern Family Cookbook
CAI - not CIA (1948-50)
County Extension Services (began 1914)
In the beginning . . .
There is a cookbook titled "The Plimoth Colony Cook Book" by the Plymouth Antiquarian Society, originally published in 1957. It is available through Dover Publications which has long been an invaluable reproduction book company. The book is described as "receipts" used in Plymouth from the colonial period to the end of the 1800s. Even though it wasn't published until 1957, it is possibly the first "recipes" representing U.S. cooking, baking, & what people of the time ate.
Now, the book in this photo is the 1984 edition by Dover Pub. of "The First American Cookbook" by Amelia Simmons in 1796, the first cookbook known to be published in this country. Up until then, if there was to be a written source to consult, it was always an imported book such as Thomas Tusser's Five Hundreth Pointes of Good Husbandrie, 1573, or a few others during the beginning 1600-1800 colonial period. But most of those that did exist from England, or two published in the U.S. in 1742 & 1772, were written by men & titled for the "Housewife" & all her duties.
What was so amazing about Amelia's book is that even though she copied some British recipes, she had recipes for common ingredients in America that were unknown to the English. For instance: cornmeal; certain berries; molasses; pearlash - a chemical leaven in doughs -- a forerunner of baking powder which created what we call "cakes" - especially "gingerbread" at that time; pumpkin, squashes, & the American "pie;" a separation of lard & butter for "shortening;" and "cookies" from the Dutch "koekjes" vs. the British "cakes" or "little cakes." Then besides many ways to "dress" & cook fish (+ oysters & turtle), meats (beef, mutton, veal, lamb, turkey), and "game," she had the well-known, every day foods of puddings, tarts, custards, creams, syllabub, cookies (to roll & cut, shape, stamp, or press in a mold), pound-soft-light-cheap-or-sweet cakes, pancakes & Johny or Hoe cakes, slapjacks, wafers, biscuits, bread, preserves, marmalade, jellies, dried fruits, & picked vegetables. [The Chriftmas Cookey says to put in an earthen pot for 6 months & it will be finer, softer, & better. :)]
The other notable item was that a woman's name appeared on the title page (& eventually the cover) of a book on cooking. This set the standard that eventually paved the way for all future, women, "food book" authors! And I've often said that I don't believe there is any other genre of books that holds more women authors, than do "food" books. As it should be because usually women give a greater portion of their lives to working with food & creating meals than do men. So overall, who would know more and know better?!?
All recipes are written in paragraph form, and it helps to know from Ben Franklin's printing press shop in Philadelphia that when you read words with an "f" at the beginning or inside the word, it is an "s" for us today: likewife, feafoned, fmall, itfelf, muft, fhell, whofe, fo.
This was published in England, but known in the U.S. BOOK OF HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT Edited by Isabella Beeton 1859-61; The 1986 reprint edition, below, was from a 1982 printing. (£4.95 in England = $7.50) In 1861 when the book was 1st published, 60,000 copies were sold. By 1868, 2 million had been sold!
In reading about cookbook history, there may often be references to Mrs. Beeton's book. She was in England. There was no such thing as electricity. The Title page says the book covers information for the "Mistress (wife of husband; of the house; . . . not "the other"!!!), Housekeeper, Cook (all the recipes), Kitchen Maid, Butler, Footman, Coachman, Valet, upper & under House Maids, Lady's Maid, Maid of All Work, Laundry Maid, Nurse & Nurse Maid, Monthly – Wet - & Sick Nurses, etc., etc. Also Sanitary, Medical & Legal memoranda; history of the above entities connected w/Home Life & Comfort. Sounds like Downton Abbey, right?
The All New Fanny Farmer Cookbook
evolved from the 1896 Boston Cooking School Cookbook
79 printings under Little, Brown & Company, publisher, in 10 editions, 1896-1959;
then under Bantam Books, began in 1957, 31 printings of 3 editions through 1970; I'm sure there are more today.
This is one of those books which covered everything from soup to nuts, & as a paperback, easy to consult & use. One source said over 7 million copies have been sold. Mine fell apart from use years ago!
The Settlement Cookbook - 1901
Mom's edition in the 1930s-40s
Up through the mid-1900s, Mom had 3 main cookbooks. It was also her way (& other women) that if you wanted to keep another recipe, you wrote it somewhere inside one of your bound cookbooks. Somewhere in the 1950s-60s, 3x5" or 4x6" index cards were also used for extra recipes. In fact, 1 of only 2 wedding gifts I still have are the 4 x 6" index cards on which an aunt typed some of my grandma's recipes & gave us in a wooden recipe box.
Better Homes & Gardens ~ 1930+
Better Homes & Gardens began as a magazine in 1922 under a different name, & was changed to BH&G in 1924. The 1st cookbook was published in 1930 - the 1st style of a 3-ring binder. It was updated in 1933, & included wartime adjustments in the 1943 edition, which was the first red & white plaid-type cover; although, it's said that the 1st "checkered" was in 1952. A million cookbooks were sold by 1938, & 34 million by 2015. For a read on the history, see these sites:
Joy of Cooking - 1931
Although the cover is a photo of a huge 1987 copy (43rd printing) of the 1975 hardback edition, my original was a paperback like my Fanny Farmer, only the Joy one was thicker. Again, it was a "go to" for almost everything under the sun! I used both of these 2 paperbacks many times, over & over, for "basics." One source says over 20 million copies "are in print."
Baking Classes on the Radio - 1932
Around WWI time frame (U.S. soldiers were involved mid-1917-Nov. 1918), many middle class families could afford a radio. Prior to that it was just newsprint. Amongst my mom's papers I found this 1932 Baking Book in which the General Foods Company gave recipes "over the air" on Tues. & Thurs. 11:15 A.M Eastern Daylight Saving Time, and 9:15 A.M. Central Standard Time. Now what do you notice about that info? First, it says "Daylight Saving Time" (singular) which began in 1918 for WWI, ended in 1919, & began again in 1942. These broadcasts were in 1932, so why does the book say "Daylight Saving Time" . . . (if there was none between 1919 & 1942)? Also, it gives times of a 2-hour difference between the "Eastern" & "Midwest" time zones. Then it wouldn't be "live" in the Midwest.
If the recipe pages were sent "through the post," a stamp was 1.5 or 2 cents at that time, which the radio must have paid, as it says they'd send free booklets after you wrote with a request. So, to get these pages, it was a "project" if you'd need to write to request each and every one! That info is a bit of history, now lost in time.
WWII days - 1940s
Mom's Homemade Recipe Book
Magazine recipes, recipes on food product containers, recipes in the local newspaper, recipe fliers & pamphlets given out by food-product companies for advertising, and such got glued onto the former school assignment papers in a 3-ring notebook. Every item that came into one's hands went through a mental "Can it be recycled?" process.
I grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin from the mid-40s to the mid-60s, & almost all of our vegetables were grown in a garden & canned; a hog, a cow, & chickens were butchered each year & in the freezer; all baking was from 50# cloth sacks of store-bought flour which were kept in the "flour bin" section of the kitchen cupboards; cherries were picked on a 1-day drive to Sturgeon Bay - Door County area where we filled some empty milk cans - & all you ate while picking were free :); black berries were free - picked in a woods; purple/blue grapes grew along a fence beyond our back yard; jams were made from crab apples by the house & choke cherries on the other end of the 80 acres; applesauce came from some other apple trees here & there by fields & pastures; & on & on.
Milk came directly from the cows, & a slip of paper to the milkman delivered however much butter & cheese the next morning, w/the cost deducted from the milk paycheck. It was a VERY financially tight life. But when growing up, we never thought, nor felt, that we were hungry. During winter the bed coverings with fluffy handmade quilts kept us warm even though you needed to scrape the frost & ice off the inside of the barely heated upstairs bedroom windows in order to see what the day looked like in the morning. We were happy.
We got to go to school (by a yellow school bus - about 40 minutes each way for the 3-mile distance). There were 6 of us in my class the first 7 years in a 4-room school house. Lunch was in packed, tin, lunch pails, & how I wished we had store-bought bread for sandwiches, but is was ALWAYS homemade! When I was 12-14 I needed to make 5 loaves of white bread every Saturday for the 1st half of the next week. Mom said it was the practice I needed in order to give a 4-H demonstration of "How to Make White Bread" at the county fair for two years!
The Modern Family Cookbook (1942)
Published in 1942, Mom had this 1961 edition. It had loose recipes inserted throughout, along with writing in both Mom's and my handwriting (printing). Along with Mom's 3-ring notebook, this was our family's "grown up" cookbook, used all the time as our "cookbook library." NOTE: At age 9, Mom gave me the brand new "Fun to Cook Book" (very treasured then & now!), and then at age 10, I got the beginning 4-H "Foods & Nutrition project" baking pamphlet. It was a gradual baking process into the "adult books!"
Culinary Arts Institute (CAI) Encyclopedic Cookbook (1948 / 1950)
Don't mix up the culinary CIA with the CAI, nor the government CIA!!!
The CULINARY INSTITUTE of AMERICA, the CIA (May 22, 1946 - https://www.ciachef.edu/our-story/) began as a restaurant institute to train returning World War II veterans in the culinary arts. They moved & opened up their school, still today, in Hyde Park, NY (1970), and then one in Napa Valley, CA (1995). This is where the Williams- Sonoma museum is today (Chuck Williams Culinary Arts Museum with 4,000 items).
I have no idea if this CULINARY ARTS INSTITUTE (CAI) Encyclopedic COOKBOOK was ever affiliated with a culinary school in Chicago. It's difficult to find history online as information references a Le Cordon Bleu school, now closed, which evolved from another former school. This book began with "cookbooklets" copyrighted in 1948, and some of that material was included in the 1950 edition of this "Encyclopedic" Cookbook. This is the 1969 edition, given by someone as their "gift to Grandma in 1970." At almost 1,000 pages, it also came on the heels of WWII. There is one main editor & 19 associates listed, but not a one word of a "school," (i.e. institute of learning).
Again, like a few others, this cookbook encompasses so many thousands of recipes, it would work as thee only ONE anyone would need in their lifetime because it says in the title, "it's like a set" of encyclopedia books.
Your State & County Extension Service
Throughout the 1900s, some of the most basic recipes of "where to begin" with cooking and baking were put out in booklet/pamphlet/flier form at no-cost (under an Act of Congress - 1914), with just a request by a postage stamp, to the Department of Agriculture, or a call or visit to your local County Extension Office. Everyone who was living in rural communities throughout the entire United States, and connected with 4-H (began in 1902), and was familiar with county and state fairs, knew, and today still knows, about these offices. They were headed up by two main people: a woman who was the Home Economics Extension Agent (dealt with everything in the home, plus gardening), and a man who was called the County Agriculture Extension Agent for everything to do with agriculture, dairy-hogs-poultry-sheep-etc., nature conservation & forestry, automotive, & all other work projects necessary for farming.
Regarding "the woman," she went to college for a "Home Ec" degree. Prior to that, she probably took the high school classes for home economics. The areas were finances which included budgeting to run a household, consumer issues (purchasing & selling), housing & interior design, nutrition & food preparation & preservation (i.e. canning), as well as textiles & apparel (i.e. sewing). I never took it because I was in French 3 years, band & chorus 4 years, & the required classes of English-4yrs., history & government-4, math & economics-3, & science-3, PLUS extra-curriculars . . . & no "half-day" senior year classes & then have a job. The 7th hour was "phy. ed." 2 days (i.e. physical education = gym) & study hall the other 3 days, besides a shorter period for lunch. (On the bus at 7:10, school 8:20-3:30, home by 4:30.) All of my "home economics" came from 8 years of related 4-H projects (definitely more fun than a class!), & apprenticeship with my 18 years on the farm. By the time I graduated from high school, I pretty much knew how to run the basics of a farm household, plus the barn & beyond. Besides, I could read in order to learn more as, if, & when needed! What a blessing.
Recipe History to be continued:
Books - Booklets - Pamphlets - Fliers Cards - Magazine Tear-outs
Appliance Companies - Product Companies - Magazines - Health Concerns - Celebrities - Seasons & Holidays - Nationalities / Heritage / World Countries / Regions - Fund-Raising, Spiral-Bound Manuals