Crazy Cold War Recipes

Given the strong-arm tactics of Russian President Vladimir Putin, some observers expect a return of the Cold War. If that prediction proves true, maybe the new Cold War will bring back some of the kitschy old recipes below, found in vintage cookbooks. Predictably, they emphasize canned veggies and preserved meats—perfect fare for bomb-shelter dining.

Best casserole: Frankfurter Crown

What can't you do with a hotdog? This recipe card, printed by Curtis Publications in 1973, combines American's favorite encased meat with green beans, potatoes, and bacon in a hot dish. The card suggests you serve it with coleslaw and rhubarb.

3 slices bacon
1 cup chopped onion
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
3 cups sliced cooked potatoes
1 cup cooked cut green beans
1 pound frankfurters

Cook everything but the wieners and mix to form a filling. Then dump it into a casserole dish ingeniously lined with vertically stacked frankfurter halves. Serve with a straight face.

Best Chinese recipe that contains nothing Asian whatsoever: Ham Ling Lo

The Cold War spread to Asia at about the same time as American cookbook editors began to feature "ethnic" dishes, including many with Chinese themes. But not all of them were very authentic, as this offering from Good Housekeeping's Casserole Book (1958) shows. Maybe the celery counts as Chinese? But where's the soy sauce, for crying out loud?

2 lb. pared white potatoes
2 12 oz. cans luncheon ham, grated
1 can pineapple slices
5 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup minced green peppers
1 cup sliced celery

Layer ham with veggies, topping with pineapple, in a casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes or until the smell drives your company screaming from the house.

Best dish for a Tupperware™ party: Sandwich Loaf

sandwich-loaf.jpg Not since the "˜70s has it been fashionable to combine mayonnaise, cream cheese, and sour cream in a single dish. Add white bread and you've got the makings for an impressive sandwich-cake on which you can draw faces or special messages with mustard. Serves at least 15 people, not including the dozens who suddenly remember they're not hungry.

4 hard-boiled eggs
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped pimentos
1-pound can salmon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 pounds cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
Small can chopped olives
2 tablespoons minced scallions
2 tablespoons minced celery
1 tablespoon minced onion
2 tablespoon walnuts
1 loaf white bread, crust removed and cut into five horizontal layers

Combine salmon with mayonnaise, eggs, lemon juice, olives, pimentos, etc. Spread this concoction between the layers of bread as you would a sandwich filling. Finish by "frosting" the outside of the loaf with cream cheese. Slice vertically with a bread knife while suppressing your gag reflex.

Chris Weber is an occasional contributor to mentalfloss.com.

Keep Your Cat Busy With a Board Game That Doubles as a Scratch Pad

Cheerble
Cheerble

No matter how much you love playing with your cat, waving a feather toy in front of its face can get monotonous after a while (for the both of you). To shake up playtime, the Cheerble three-in-one board game looks to provide your feline housemate with hours of hands-free entertainment.

Cheerble's board game, which is currently raising money on Kickstarter, is designed to keep even the most restless cats stimulated. The first component of the game is the electronic Cheerble ball, which rolls on its own when your cat touches it with their paw or nose—no remote control required. And on days when your cat is especially energetic, you can adjust the ball's settings to roll and bounce in a way that matches their stamina.

Cheerable cat toy on Kickstarter.
Cheerble

The Cheerble balls are meant to pair with the Cheerble game board, which consists of a box that has plenty of room for balls to roll around. The board is also covered on one side with a platform that has holes big enough for your cat to fit their paws through, so they can hunt the balls like a game of Whack-a-Mole. And if your cat ever loses interest in chasing the ball, the board also includes a built-in scratch pad and fluffy wand toy to slap around. A simplified version of the board game includes the scratch pad without the wand or hole maze, so you can tailor your purchase for your cat's interests.

Cheerble cat board game.
Cheerble

Since launching its campaign on Kickstarter on April 23, Cheerble has raised over $128,000, already blowing past its initial goal of $6416. You can back the Kickstarter today to claim a Cheerble product, with $32 getting you a ball and $58 getting you the board game. You can make your pledge here, with shipping estimated for July 2020.

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The Long, Fascinating History of Chocolate

Wikimedia Commons//Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons//Public Domain

Walk into just about any grocery or convenience store today and you're sure to find row upon row of chocolate in every imaginable form. While we have come to associate this sweet treat with companies like Hershey, chocolate has been a delicacy for centuries.

All chocolate comes from the cacao tree, which is native to the Americas, but is now grown around the world. Inside the tree’s fruits, or pods, you’ll find the cacao beans, which—once roasted and fermented—give chocolate its signature rich and complex flavor. While we don't know who first decided to turn cacao beans into chocolate, we certainly owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.

In this episode of Food History, we're digging into the history of chocolate—from its origins to the chocolate-fueled feud between J.S. Fry & Sons and Cadbury and much, much more. You can watch the full episode below.

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