FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000

Help for the Home Cook

Preparing food at home became easier—and more complicated—in postwar America. Manufacturers, advertisers, and the popular media bombarded home cooks with ever more advice about food and cooking. They introduced an array of “new and improved” appliances, kitchen gadgets, and convenience foods, promising “good as homemade” results and more free time for busy Americans. While many cooks embraced the latest shortcuts, others chose to maintain and enhance their “cooking from scratch” skills.

Ad, 1959

Ad, 1959

Tupperware was one of many new products that promised busy women “more time for family, friends and fun.”

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Ad, 1957

Ad, 1957

Electric companies sponsored a national campaign to promote sales of electrical appliances—and electricity. They encouraged housewives to equate the number of appliances they owned with their level of happiness.

“Pillsbury Busy Lady Bake-Off Recipes” booklet, 1966

“Pillsbury Busy Lady Bake-Off Recipes” booklet, 1966

Pillsbury sponsored an annual Bake-Off to promote the use of its products, publishing  winning recipes, which often used prepared mixes and other short cuts. This edition featuring Ella Helfrich’s Tunnel of Fudge Bundt cake, promised “homemade goodness with hurry-up timing.”

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Pamphlet illustration, 1967

Pamphlet illustration, 1967

One romanticized version of a busy lady’s day from the Pillsbury Bake-Off recipe booklet.

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