9 Delightful Recipes From the 1950s You Should Make with Your Kids Today

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Getty Images

Have you ever been accused of gulping down a meal so fast you were consuming your food "like it was going out of style"? Well, keep gulping, because food does go out of style.

But let's not overlook the dishes of decades past, because they offer some delightful lessons. In 1957, for instance, Betty Crocker's Cook Book for Boys and Girls used easy instructions and bright, beautiful images to teach children how to cook. These recipes are just as fun to make today as they were then — even if they are out of style.

(For a larger view of each recipe, click directly on the image.)

1. Branded pancakes


Granted, names have gotten a lot longer since John and Jane dominated the pancake scene. But a hungry enough birthday girl will still enjoy a batch of Alexandria pancakes branded in her honor.

2. Eggs in a frame


This is listed under the "Campfire" section of the book, but it looks like it can be done anywhere butter is abundant.

3. Doughboys


More campfire ingenuity; simple enough for any little camper who can be trusted with a pointy stick.

4. Raggedy Ann salad


Here is an example of making do with what would be commonly available year round to a child in 1957. Granted, by our standards, Mrs. Crocker is using the word "salad" pretty liberally here. But remember, the whole point of Raggedy Ann is that she was a lovable, patched-together hodgepodge of a doll. Or a salad!

5. American pizza


It's important to include the word "American" in the title, because no matter how good this turns out, it's going to disillusion a child forever that they can make "real" pizza at home. But it's still fun! Like little Peter tells us at the bottom of the page, "Pizza cuts up real easy if you use the kitchen scissors."

6. Kabobs


This dish is perfect for the child who enjoys sharp sticks, knives, and fire. Which is most of them.

7. Three men in a boat


Okay, not every recipe is going to translate well over the years. And not every modern child will be thrilled with a mixture of creamed dried beef, potato skin, mushrooms, and cheese. But hey! It's a boat you can eat! That's pretty cool.

8. Drum cake


I must admit, falling in love with this photo was the whole reason I spent a week on the phone getting General Mills' permission to use it. Candy canes! When it's not even Christmas! Brilliant!

9. Eskimo igloo cake


Remember, in 1957 it would have occurred to no one to ask whether it was socially acceptable to make food versions of an indigenous people's home, nor would they have searched their brains trying to remember if it's rude to say "Eskimo." Today this little cake can be used as a great introduction to anthropology, history, and America's changing social values. Or you can just eat it.

**All images used with express permission of General Mills**

The Great Tryptophan Lie: Eating Turkey Does Not Make You Tired

bhofack2/iStock via Getty Images
bhofack2/iStock via Getty Images

While you’re battling your cousins for the best napping spot after Thanksgiving dinner, feel free to use this as a diversion tactic: It’s a myth that eating turkey makes you tired.

It’s true that turkey contains L-Tryptophan, an amino acid involved in sleep. Your body uses it to produce a B vitamin called niacin, which generates the neurotransmitter serotonin, which yields the hormone melatonin, which helps regulate your sleeping patterns. However, plenty of other common foods contain comparable levels of tryptophan, including other poultry, meat, cheese, yogurt, fish, and eggs.

Furthermore, in order for tryptophan to produce serotonin in your brain, it first has to make it across the blood-brain barrier, which many other amino acids are also trying to do. To give tryptophan a leg up in the competition, it needs the help of carbohydrates. Registered dietitian Elizabeth Somer tells WebMD that the best way to boost serotonin is to eat a small, all-carbohydrate snack a little while after you’ve eaten something that contains tryptophan, and the carbs will help ferry the tryptophan from your bloodstream to your brain.

But Thanksgiving isn’t exactly about eating small, well-timed snacks. It’s more about heaps of potatoes, mountains of stuffing, and generous globs of gravy—and that, along with alcohol, is more likely the reason you collapse into a spectacular food coma after your meal. Overeating (especially of foods high in fat) means your body has to work extra hard to digest everything. To get the job done, it redirects blood to the digestive system, leaving little energy for anything else. And since alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, it also slows down your brain and other organs.

In short, you can still hold turkey responsible for your Thanksgiving exhaustion, but you should make sure it knows it can share the blame with the homestyle mac and cheese, spiked apple cider, and second piece of pumpkin pie.

[h/t WebMD]

How Mammoth Poop Gave Us Pumpkin Pie

MargoeEdwards/iStock via Getty Images
MargoeEdwards/iStock via Getty Images

When it’s time to express gratitude for the many privileges bestowed upon your family this Thanksgiving, don’t forget to be grateful for mammoth poop. The excrement of this long-extinct species is a big reason why holiday desserts taste so good.

Why? Because, as Smithsonian Insider reports, tens of thousands of years ago, mammoths, elephants, and mastodons had an affinity for wild gourds, the ancestors of squashes and pumpkin. In a 2015 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a Smithsonian researcher and colleagues found that wild gourds—which were much smaller than our modern-day butternuts—carried a bitter-tasting toxin in their flesh that acted as a deterrent to some animals. While small rodents would avoid eating the gourds, the huge mammals would not. Their taste buds wouldn't pick up the bitter flavor and the toxin had no effect on them. Mammoths would eat the gourds and pass the indigestible seeds out in their feces. The seeds would then be plopped into whatever habitat range the mammoth was roaming in, complete with fertilizer.

When the mammoths went extinct as recently as 4000 years ago, the gourds faced the same fate—until humans began to domesticate the plants, allowing for the rise of pumpkins. But had it not been for the dispersal of the seeds via mammoth crap, the gourd might not have survived long enough to arrive at our dinner tables.

So as you dig into your pumpkin pie this year, be sure to think of the heaping piles of dung that made the delicious treat possible.

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