Old Recipes

So recently, I’ve been looking into older recipes. Specifically, mid-20th century American recipes, which are really quite fascinating.

For those who aren’t aware, in the 1930s, the US had the Great Depression. Then came WW2 and food rationing. Along with that came great advances in food storage, which made everything keep longer and more importantly, preserved previously-localized foods so that they could be easily transported to grocery stores that were too far away to get them beforehand. So, in the late 40s, 50s, and 60s, a lot of people who were used to saving and using everything they could out of necessity suddenly had access to a wider variety of foodstuffs and the means to preserve them for longer. This led to some interesting choices in the name of novelty and stretching food life.

You can put anything into gelatin salads. That doesn’t mean you should.

Additionally, with the advent of easy-to-make foods and advances in cleaning technology, a lot of middle-class housewives were left with time on their hands. So, to show that they were doing something, they put a lot of time into PRESENTATION! Which, as we all know, is the difference between food villainy and food supervillainy.

So, here are some recipes I’ve come across that aren’t necessarily good or bad, but that I think are interesting. Also, I’ll be providing a picture (for proof that I’m not making these up) and transliterating it because some are a bit small or blurry and screenreaders are a thing.

First up: cranberry candles.

1 1-lb can Ocean Spray Whole Cranberry Sauce
1 3-oz pkg. red, yellow, or orange fruit-flavored gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup HELLMANN’S Real Mayonnaise
1 apple or orange, peeled and diced
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Heat cranberry sauce, strain, set berries aside. Dissolve gelatin in hot juice and water. Add salt and lemon juice.
Chill until thickened enough to mound slightly when dropped from a spoon. Beat in Real Mayonnaise with rotary beater till light and fluffy. Fold in cranberries, fruit, and nuts.
Divide mixture evenly unto eight 6-oz fruit juice cans. Chill 4 hours or longer. Unmold. Garnish with real mayonnaise to taste.
To flame: Cut thin birthday candles in half to shorten. Insert into tops of cranberry candles. Light.

Next: potato brownies.

2/3 cup mashed Potato Buds from Betty Crocker
2/3 cup hot water
1/3 cup shortening
2 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
⅓ cup Gold Medal Flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease square pan, 8x8x2 inches.
Measure Potato Buds into mixing bowl. Blend in hot water; set aside.
Melt shortening and chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. Add chocolate mixture, sugar and eggs to potatoes in the bowl.
Stir together remaining ingredients; blend into chocolate mixture. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Cool; if desired, frost. Cut into 1 1/2 inch squares. Makes 2 dozen.

Next: Frito macaroons. For those who don’t have them, Fritos are a brand of corn chip.

2 tbsp shortening
½ cup sugar
⅔ cup coconut
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt or less
¾ cup rolled or quick oatmeal
2 cups Fritos crushed slightly
2 eggs

Beat eggs well and mix with oatmeal. Let stand while creaming the sugar and shortening. Combine the two mixtures and add coconut, Fritos, baking powder and salt. Drop by spoonfuls or shape into walnut size balls, and spread on baking sheets. Bake 15 minutes in moderate oven at 350 degrees.

Hey, you know how avocado is technically a fruit? Avocado Ice Cream.

Yolks 5 eggs
2 c sugar
1 qt. milk
4 medium sized avocados
Green maraschino cherries
Almond and vanilla extracts.

Make a boiled custard with the milk, eggs, and 1 c sugar, and flavor with vanilla. Mash the fruit to a pulp with 1 c sugar and flavor with almond extract. When the custard is cool, add the fruit and freeze. Serve in mounds with a green maraschino cherry on top of each mound.

Let’s end this (for now) with a party recipe. Wheelbarrow Ice Bar.

Assorted fruit (looks like watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple, grapes; choose what you want)
Ice cream (your choice)
Fruit punch

Chop fruit. Cut large fruit in half to serve as serving dishes. Cut other fruit into chunks and place on larger fruit.
Put foil on the bottom of the wheelbarrow and fill with ice. Place fruit and punch into the ice. If desired, decorate.
Scoop ice cream onto fruit. Serve.

Do you have any older recipes with interesting combinations or interesting history behind them?


Jello salads are amazing.

Vegetables in green jello. Red jello is used to make strawberry jello salad.

I may have eaten both of these growing up.

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Have you ever had fish or shrimp in jello? Genuinely curious, since that seems to have been a not-uncommon combination and I have no idea how well that would pair.


Challenge for you - Recreate one of your posted recipes!


I know nothing about old recipes, but i do know the YouTube channel How to Cook That does occasionally recreate some really old recipes, and then tries them on her family. This one is all about the oldest marshmallow recipes she could find, and these are made with real marshmallow (as in the root of the marshmallow plant)

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I was not mentally prepared for this topic. :joy:


I have not… but I have a story about that.

My grandmother was an amazing cook – she made money cooking meals for my grandfather’s army buddies and later for his fellow med students, and would do things like hosting army functions and making full meals including dessert eclairs and such for a hundred people. But she did the cooking-to-make-money stuff because they were flat broke (at one point my grandfather’s stipend was $90/month and their rent was $70/month), and she made everything stretch and work. And one day, the day before pay day, there was essentially nothing left to eat in the house except, somehow, a can of shrimp and some unflavored gelatin. And so she made shrimp aspic (aspic is essentially savory jello). And it was terrible – so bad that it might be the only time in my grandmother’s life that she threw away food, so memorably so that my grandparents still chuckled about it over 50 years later.

With that in my family lore, I have never been tempted to try aspic. :wink:


I’m glad the word aspic has been defined, or I’d be imagining a tool that’s used if no toilet paper is available.


I went out to a convenience store and bought the missing ingredients for one recipe in the original post. I’ve already had dessert for today, so I’ll make it tomorrow.

Just remember: the blame for whatever may befall humanity as a result of this challenge rests squarely upon your shoulders. :stuck_out_tongue:


Sea Pie is a recipe that goes back to the late 18th century. It is a casserole of mixed meats (pork, beef, and chicken) baked slowly and carefully. It has a top crust and also (IIRC) a middle crust. It is the only recipe I have made that calls for three different kinds of meat— plus salt pork, very important!


With a name like that, I was expecting fish.


Nobody really knows where the name comes from. Some say it was made for fishermen, others say that it is an anglicized version of the French name for it, cipaille (pronounced “sea pie”).

I was curious, so I looked it up. According to Wikipedia, it’s the other way around. The French name comes from English. That says that it was made for fishermen, and that some versions of the dish include fish.

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Hmm. I guess I will have to check my sources.

I accept the responsibility for any potential catastrophes that befall humanity from this recipe with a smidgen of pride and a single caveat - Everything must be cooked correctly. I’m not accepting responsibility for any disasters if you don’t cook it right! :yum:

I will raise a glass in your memory.


The recipe I will be making today: potato brownies! I’ll have to come back to the computer to get the recipe, so I’ll be updating with my thoughts as I go. I’m also taking pictures; will update with those later.

A few substitution notes: the only brand of potato flakes they had at the store were Idahoan, specifically the buttery flakes. Everything else had garlic/onions (which I am mildly allergic to) or cheese. Neither of those would work well in brownies. At least butter is already going into it, more or less.

Also, due to ethical concerns, I’ll be using cocoa powder rather than buying new chocolate for this. The formula to make unsweetened baking chocolate from cocoa powder is 3 tablespoons cocoa, 1 tablespoon butter/margarine/oil for one ounce of chocolate.

For shortening, I’ll be using a stick of margarine. Shortening is basically any fat that’s solid at room temperature, so margarine counts.

I don’t have an 8x8 pan, only 9x18 so I’ll be checking in on it at 15 and 20 minutes.

Also, I am not adding walnuts, because I don’t like most nuts.

Just noticed a typo in the recipe. Should be 1/3 cup shortening, not 1/2. Will fix that later. Probably.

The potatoes definitely taste buttery.

Note to self: do not lick the cocoa powder spoon. You will regret it.

I licked the cocoa powder spoon. Bleh. But it smelled so chocolately!

After putting the potatoes in, I was worried it was going to be a bit too dry. But the eggs really did a good job hydrating it. Definitely going to need that flour.

It is now in the oven. Initial taste test of the batter is… chocolatey, but odd.


The kitchen is now clean, so here are the pics.

The potatoes I used.

Step 1, complete.

I did have a picture of the chocolate and potatoes, but I turned at the last minute so it was blurry. This is the batter with everything but the flour, salt, and baking powder. Also took a picture of it with that, but I thumbed it. :unamused:

In the pan, ready for the oven.

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I missed 15 minutes due to posting the pics. I checked at 18 minutes and they were done.

The texture is a bit dry.

I am not good at cutting brownies. Also, for some reason, the phone demanded a flash after cutting it.

The inside looks perfectly moist. Time for the taste test.

I can sort of taste the potatoes, but it’s drowned out by the chocolate. Not quite as sweet as I’m used to from brownies, compared to recipes that have the same amount of sugar. It’s also a bit on the salty side. Not bad, but not what I was expecting.

The biggest change is to the texture. They’re the same size as the brownies I usually make, but they’re denser and more moist. I can easily squish them with my tongue. Definitely on the chewier side of things.

Not something I’d turn down, but also not something I’d go out of my way to make.


A worthwhile experiment! Thanks for sharing it with us. :slight_smile:

I wonder whether whatever they put in the potatoes to give them a “buttery” (not “butter”, so I’m guessing not actual butter) flavor contributed to the density, or if that was strictly the potatoes.

For future: You can usually make a larger pan have a smaller area by lining it with aluminum foil and creasing/ridging the foil up to make a full-pan-depth divider wherever desired. But as these were already denser and more squishy than regular brownies, I’m not sure being deeper would’ve improved on that!


I checked the ingredients list. It looks like the butter flavor is actually butter. However, there’s also maltodextrin (used to make things crispier), monoglycerides (leavening agent), and calcium stearoyl lactylate (also a leavening agent). Which is a bit odd, considering they weren’t any bigger than the brownies I usually make, which have half as much baking powder.

So I’m going to put this squarely down to the potatoes making it dense and moist.