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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pillsbury: Then and Now

If anyone remembers from this blog post, Versatility of canned biscuits, I promised to buy the Pillsbury cookbook at the end of it. I bought and and now it has found its moment of fame! 

My first idea was to post pictures, recipes, kitschy ideas of the book, but then a little lightbulb shined in my mind. I HAVE A SIMILAR BOOK!! What if I looked through it and compared the 2000s with the 1960s? Brilliant!! Except this was a 3 ring bound book with removable pages and I have dropped it on more than one occasion, sending over 500 pages to the floor. However, I made do and scanned what I could find. I don't use this book either. I thought I would, but the only thing that I have tried is the chicken fajitas. Chili powder, lime juice, peppers, onions, chicken. Idiot proof!

Gone from the 2000 edition are recipes for aspics, molds, newburgs, venison, rabbit, tuhds, meatloaves, olives and boiled eggs as garnishes, and other things that made retro cookbooks the things of interest. Cottage cheese in lasagna has thankfully disappeared. 

Most of the comparisons come a little bit further into this post. There is still fun to be had!!

Pillsbury Family Cookbook, 1963

Pillsbury Complete Cookbook, 2000

The Pillsbury of 1963 reiterates what an honest and trusted corporation it is. I do like how "best" has quotation marks around it. Even they couldn't back up their claims.

What old cookbook would not be complete without reminding women where there place is? A woman strives to be the best in the kitchen she can be but Pillsbury has to smack her down and denigrate her position by saying even "Father" is going to have a "HIS" apron so woman, remember your place. You are nothing but XX Chromosomes who better cook "HIM" something good. So what if you have to crack open a few cans and push some buttons.
Pillsbury must have undergone some sort of cleansing because there appears to be a gender neutral paradigm shift. No longer is cooking about pleasing the MAN of the house, but just getting it done. They even, gasp, used the "interwebs". Clutch my pearls!
Wow! That must be MAGIC! How can oranges and biscuits stack up so perfect? The FISH! Look at the FISH! It's not flopping over. This must be the 1963 Pillsbury's little take on what is in the box and cans and what comes out. You mean canned corn is so fresh it tastes like it's on the cob? HUH?
Let's play find the nutrition. White bread? NO! Ham? Full of sodium and nitrates. Yummers. Iceberg lettuce? Empty calories! Just eat a slice of that swiss cheese. There's calcium and protein and I'm going to use that idea with a grain of salt.
What better way to NOT have a house full of teenagers? Your teenager arranges for a get together to work on a project, serve some aspic and cheese and weiner crescents. A pre-dance party (Huh?). Surely they will appreciate asparagus. Granted your teenager is going to hate you, but it's for their own good. Just lock up your pills and alcohol. Those have a tendency to turn up missing.

Creepy ice cream cone. If the eyes were even, it might not look like it was judging me from afar. Getting the slitted snake eye from a bird cone is not how I want to go down in the annals of retro food history. STOP STARING AT ME!!
Salmon steaks in the 1963 cookbook. I can feel the parasites hatching in my colon as I eyeball the white discoloration.
Dilled Salmon Steak in 2000. Maybe the parasites are covered with dill.
I am truly shocked not to see this instant potato stuffed meatloaf with a catusp (not ketchup) gravy in the 2000 version of the Pillsbury cookbook. It's okay, Pillsbury. History cannot be undone.
It appears the beloved salmon loaf has withstood the test of time. There's a few minor variations but for the most part, the recipe has stayed the same. Apparently Big Salmon no longer makes 1 pound cans. I bet we pay more for a can of less salmon in 2012 than we did in 1963.
Baked Ham slice in a brown sugar clove sauce. Obviously from 1963. The kitschy garnishes gave it away.
Grilled ham slice with a pineapple salsa. (2000)
Diarrhea on rice. I mean curried lamb on rice. (1963)
Curried vegetables over rice. (2000)
Assorted Mixed Grill, 1963. Pillsbury made an obvious faux pas in allowing this to be displayed without full garnishes and salt and pepper shakers.
Introduction to the Poultry Chapter. Nothing in 1963 proclaimed "master of the food chain" like having a statue of the dead animal you are about to devour.
Poultry Chapter, 2000. More varieties, no identifying bird statue.
Oven fried chicken (1963). The yellow background bleeds into the banana and chicken. It basically sucks the taste buds off of my tongue. It gives me no will to cook.
Oven fried chicken nuggets (2000). Bite sized, simple, little cup of sweet and sour sauce, grapes. Something quick and that picky kids will eat.
Big ole grilled hamburgers. No attempt. I have a feeling that one of these burgers was actually cut open, it would be raw as the day it was ground. If anyone has ever bitten into a big hamburger and it was completely raw inside, you can attest to how hard these are to look at. (1963)
Grilled steak sandwiches, what looks like beer and for reasons unknown a large red pepper. They look a little better, but Pillsbury took a page out of the old cookbooks and put a large vegetable in the background. Because who doesn't arrange their table with big peppers around the plates? (2000)
Molded salad. Recipe unknown. The Pillsbury book of 1963 has missed a crucial step by not including what this is. I looked through the recipes and they all matched what this could be. Maybe this is the most delicious thing I have seen and I want to present my family with it? Okay, that's highly unlikely. C'mon Pillsbury, OWN IT!!
In 1963, people were obviously so uneducated that they needed plates with vegetables on them to identify what vegetables belonged on them. I wouldn't have guessed asparagus and green beans. I would have thought carrots and radishes, but that's just me.
Asparagus (2000). It looks less depressing. Plus it is on a regular plate! No boundaries or oppression!
Green beans with cashews (2000).
This fruit ring epitomizes the food of the past. It should stay suspended in jello forever. Until someone like me discovers old cookbooks half a century later!
Obviously food photography and recipes have come a long way. If I don't want to eat my computer screen or book, then I don't want to eat it!! 



  1. There is a recipe for the molded salad... well, I think there is, what about the molded Shrimp-Asparagus Salad? It's clear jelly with asparagus and shrimp carefully arranged with a cream/mayo jelly filling the rest of the mold.

  2. I LOVE that cookbook. I made a copy of my dad's original 1963 blue binder version (like the one shown). Sure, there's a bunch that is... not useful, but the quick bread and cake recipes are absolute treasures. In fact, I found this post because I can't find page 151/152 of my copy - which has the banana bread recipe that I altered slightly and use all the time. When my parents moved overseas, they recycled that book - it was in baaaaad shape.