by Jay Kitterman, consultant, LLCC Culinary Institute
Lincoln Land Community College is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Ms. Lynn Whalen, executive director of public relations and marketing at the college, suggested one of us write an article on foods from 50 years ago. My three fellow Epicuriosity 101 writers reminded me that I was the only one that was around 50 years ago, and thus the topic was assigned to me. Join me as I take a nostalgic food trip back to 1967. First some 1967 food-related fun facts.
- Plastic milk bottles were introduced. A gallon cost $1.03.
- Tommy Smothers fell into a vat of chocolate.
- Gladys Knight & The Pips released “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.”
- Yellow margarine became legal in Wisconsin.
- Billy Corgan of the group Smashing Pumpkins was born.
Fondue Swiss dish of melted cheese served in a communal pot (fondue pot) over a portable stove, heated with a candle or spirit lamp, and eaten by dipping bread into the cheese using long-stemmed forks. Also popular was chocolate fondue, in which pieces of fruit or pastry were dipped into a melted chocolate mixture, and also fondue bourguignon, in which pieces of meat were cooked in hot oil or broth. This idea was great in theory – crusty bread dunked in melted cheese; strawberries drowned in chocolate – but unfortunately sometimes horrible in execution. Concerns of double dipping (an excuse to kiss someone or drink more wine), spillage and the communal hot pot turning into a petri dish of germs all raised red flags.
Just-add-water products Food companies flooded the market with NASA-inspired, just-add-water products, such as instant mashed potatoes, freeze dried coffee, powdered cheese mix and scientifically-engineered Tang. The introduction of Easy Cheese, Bac-Os bacon bits and Cool Whip cemented these science project foods.
Jell-O Mold In the late 1960s the slogan “There’s always room for Jell-O” was introduced. Many Jell-O dishes, such as desserts and Jell-O salads, were popular. Jell-O molds are making a comeback and not just for Easter or Thanksgiving.
Homemade shrimp cocktail Prawn cocktail, also known as shrimp cocktail, is a seafood dish consisting of shelled, cooked prawns in a cocktail sauce served in a glass. It was the most popular hors d’œuvre in 1967. It first gained popularity in Great Britain in the 1960s and traveled to the United States. A shrimp cocktail before dinner was the ultimate extravagance and would be followed by steak or lobster with drawn butter. A shrimp cocktail meant the meal was a special occasion.
Soul food became common in the late 1960s. As terms like “soul brother,” “soul sister” and “soul music” were taking hold, it was only natural that the term “soul food” would be used to describe the recipes that African-Americans had been cooking for generations. Soul food is basic, down-home cooking with its roots in the rural South. The staples of soul food cooking are beans, greens, cornmeal (used in cornbread, hush puppies and johnnycakes and as a coating for fried fish) and pork. Pork has an almost limitless number of uses in soul food. Many parts of the pig are used, like pigs’ feet, ham hocks, pig ears, hog jowl and chitlin’s. The distinctions between soul and Southern are hard to make. In his “Soul Food Cookbook” (1969), Bob Jeffries summed it up this way: “While all soul food is Southern food, not all Southern food is soul food. Soul food cooking is an example of how really good Southern [African-American] cooks cooked with what they had available to them.
Beef Bourguignon Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” describes this dish as “certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man.” The dish originated from the Burgundy region (in French, Bourgogne). It is a stew prepared with beef braised in red wine, traditionally red Burgundy, and beef broth, generally flavored with garlic, onions and a kitchen bouquet and garnished with pearl onions and mushrooms added toward the end of cooking.
McDonalds The growth and impact of fast food restaurants in the late 1960s and early 1970s was “huge.” McDonald’s success in the 1960s was in large part due to the company’s skillful marketing and flexible response to customer demand. In 1962, the Filet-O-Fish sandwich, billed as “The Fish that Catches People,” was introduced in McDonald’s restaurants. In 1968 the now legendary Big Mac made its debut, and in 1969 McDonald’s sold its five billionth hamburger. Two years later, as it launched the “You Deserve a Break Today” advertising campaign, McDonald’s restaurants had reached all 50 states.
Desserts As Lincoln Land pastry instructor Terri Branham well knows my favorite part of the meal is dessert. Grasshopper pie, Baked Alaska, Pineapple Upside Down Cake and mixes from Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker all bring back fond memories. The Bundt pan gained popularity in 1966, when a Bundt cake called the “Tunnel of Fudge,” baked by Ella Helfrich, took second place at the annual Pillsbury Bake-Off and won its baker $5,000. The resulting publicity resulted in more than 200,000 requests to Pillsbury for Bundt pans and soon led to the Bundt pan surpassing the tin Jell-O mold as the most sold pan in the United States.
Lancers & Mateus For Carol and me, while living on a limited budget in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a very special dinner was paired with either Lancers or Mateus. Both wines were from Portugal and had distinctive bottles. Lancers was a rose wine and at one time sales soared over one million bottles a year. The ceramic bottle had a problem as it allowed oxygen to exchange impacting its taste. For Mateus, part of its market appeal was the result of its packaging, a squat, disproportional bottle that could be used as a doorstop as well as a wine bottle. No one purchased Mateus or Lancers to store in a wine cellar, but rather enjoy that night with dinner.
Lincoln Land has been my employer now for almost half of its 50 years. When I started at the college there was a full cafeteria serving three or four different entrees daily. We now have a Subway that reflects the changes in our American eating lifestyle. In our new state- of-the-art instructional cooking and baking labs, we teach students and members of the community to prepare foods of today and the future.
Classic Cream Cheese Pear Lime Jell-O Salad
By Pam Beth
Serves 8 to 12 depending on how small or large you slice the mold.
Total Time 5 hr. 15 min.
1½ cups boiling water
1 (6 oz) box or 2 (3 oz) boxes lime Jell-O, (sugar-free can be substituted)
1 (15 oz) can sliced pears in juice
1 (3 oz) package cream cheese, I used reduced fat or Neufchatel cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup mini marshmallows
½ cup chopped or cut up pecans, optional
1½ – 2 cups Cool Whip or Truwhip whipped topping, thawed
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve Jell-O in boiling water. Let cool a few minutes. Then, pour into a blender. Add juice from pears along with the softened cream cheese. Cover and whirl until smooth.
Pour mixture back into mixing bowl. Gently fold in whipped topping. Add marshmallows and pecans.
Pour into mold or large serving bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 5 hours or overnight. Check to make sure it’s firm. Still jiggly – it’s Jell-O!
To unmold, dip the bottom of the bowl or mold into hot tap water to loosen. Then, invert onto a serving plate.
Serves 8 to 12 depending on how small or large you slice the mold.
2 packages (3 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
15 drops green food coloring
24 chocolate-covered mint cookies, divided
2 cups whipped topping
1 chocolate crumb crust (8 inches
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in milk until smooth. Beat in the food coloring. Coarsely crush 16 cookies; stir into the cream cheese mixture. Fold in whipped topping. Spoon into the crust. Cover and freeze overnight. Remove from the freezer 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with remaining cookies. Yield: 8 servings. Please call me if you would like to share! Jay Kitterman