A journey in words...

Welcome to my journey in words! A story about health, exercise, weight loss, food addiction, humor, size discrimination, sarcasm, social commentary and all the rest that’s rattling around inside my head...

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cooking Like It's 1943

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I bought another vintage cookbook. This time it's a February, 1943 issue of a magazine called The Health For Victory Meal Planning Guide. It's a wartime publication that was produced monthly by the Home Economics Institute, Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company. I bought this from an antique book and print vendor at a fair, but this same issue and others are easily found on eBay.

Look at that cover! Look at the interior photos! It was only $3! How could I resist?

I would love to eventually find more information on the Health For Victory Clubs, but from the publication, it looks as though it was a national health and cooking club focused on teaching people how to create healthy meals in a time of austerity and hard-work. Of course, considering the time, the club and publication are written for women and absolutely packed with patriotism.
"Wives, mothers, [and] landladies learn plenty about packing husky, healthful mid-shift meals at H for V meetings." (page 2)
"So eat a well-balanced lunch from now on. We're all in this war to win. And upon the health of our production soldiers, depends the strength of the nation." (page 3)
The first third of the publication is instructional. Topics such as what constitutes a healthy lunch, what to pack for different types of workers, how to time meals for shift workers, tips for organizing meal preparation equipment, the best ways to cook vegetables so the least amount of vitamins and minerals are lost, are discussed.

Once you get past the instructional portion of the magazine, to the recipes, the difference from current day cooking isn't too significant. There are ingredients listed that are out of fashion such as corn syrup and lard. But happily, some of the recipes featuring corn syrup have instructions for replacing sugar for the corn syrup.

Actually, I think there are a few surprising similarities.
  • There is is a section of  Jiffy Dinners, Ready in 35 minutes! 
  • There is a focus on cooking with seasonal vegetables. This issue was from February, so root vegetables, cabbage and dried beans are ingredients in many of the recipes.  
  • There is also a mention of hiding healthy ingredients in 'tastier' dishes. 
    “The best lunch in the world, packed full of vitamins and minerals and energy-producing foods, won't do much good, if it isn't eaten. So in planning lunches, give them what they like, but don't stop there. And don't forget – many a time it's possible to fool them! If they don't like carrots, for example – try the Carrot Honey Cookies on page 30 of this Meal-Planning Guide. And sandwiches made of the Liver Loaf on page 44, for those who 'hate liver'.” (page 4)
I think I'll pass on the Liver Loaf for now, but look for a recipe review of the Carrot Honey Cookies next week. (It's just too hot to bake this week)


  1. What an interesting peek into our culinary history, I can see why you had to buy this one (and it was a bargain, too)!

    I like how the focus in it is on making healthy food instead of on losing weight, although I'm sure our definitions of what is healthy have changed some over time. (Ew, lard).

    Judging by this little snippet one of the mentalities we have changed for the better is that many of us actually like the taste of healthy things like carrots just as they are.

    Thanks for posting!

  2. Since the H for V Club goal appears to specifically to keep war workers strong and healthy, weight loss isn't addressed directly, a least not in this issue. This issue was about packed lunches. It's also privately produced with no advertisements. Fashion magazines of the period may give a different view.

    I'd love to get a few more issues of the magazine.