Back in 1901, when the concept of commercially canned food was fairly new, the American Can Company set up shop in Cincinnati, Ohio. Despite the company’s “rapid and extraordinary” dominance of the market, training for consumers was still in order. That explains Quick Trick Cookery from the company’s home economics section, which has no publication date but a guess is that it comes from the 1930s.
In this book, the can opener is a “magic wand” leading to family meals that are “speedy, easy, appetizing – and fun!” Um, appetizing? Not the Menu No. 5 for Chilled Pea Soup, Spicy Tongue, and Savory Spinach. Here, canned tongue is fried with tomato sauce, vinegar, sugar, cloves, and a bay leaf! Other winning menus present Green-Gold salad with peas, celery, cubes of processed cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and vinegar served in lettuce cups; and canned Spanish rice baked with a topping of Vienna sausages and cheddar cheese. There is also a Jellied Tomato-Vegetable salad made of lemon gelatin, stewed tomatoes, chopped onion, green pepper, and vinegar.
But my favorite recipe from the collection is below. Make it if you dare! By the way, the American Can Company ended in a way that sounds like a joke – but it’s true. In the 1980s, it sold off its manufacturing business and became the financial services company Primerica.
Tomato Cocktail (1930s)
1 pound, 4 ounce can chick peas
1 pound, 4 ounce can bean sprouts
2 1/2 cups tomato juice
1 teaspoon canned lemon juice
Few drops of Tabasco sauce
- Into a pitcher, drain the juice from the chick peas and bean sprouts; reserve the chick peas and bean sprouts for another use.
- Add the tomato juice, lemon juice, and Tabasco sauce.
- Chill until serving time, or serve over ice.