Plumb Lines

February 2, 2011

In the Past They Ate Cream of Celery

Filed under: Uncategorized — David Schaengold @ 11:20 am

Have you noticed that people frequently use “the Past” to mean “the 1950s?” In this discussion the 50s, and innovation since then, are the explicit topic of the conversation, but this doesn’t prevent invective about the various centuries of prior human history from creeping in.

More interesting: various comments are made about the unpleasantness of 50s cuisine. I believe these comments are true, but I wonder if the terribleness of the food in the 50s wasn’t related to the magnificent innovations Krugman et al are so awed by. This was, after all, an era in which prophets routinely heralded the imminent replacement of meals by nutritive pills. That this has never seemed an attractive prospect to anyone before or since the middle of the 20th century perhaps offers some insight into the tastiness of that unhappy era’s food.

-David Schaengold



  1. The other day I ran across an article about the food of 100 years ago — on which I’m reserving judgment. After years of vainly fighting the war against margarine in my mother’s kitchen, a diet based on cream, butter and lard sounds pretty good.

    As far a the ’50s go, I’ve gathered the idea from advertisements and recipes of that era that they ate little but aspic. I have only the vaguest idea what that is, but it sounds unholy.

    Comment by Kevin Gallagher — February 2, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

  2. People in terelene ties and dacron dinner jackets sipping champagne in Tang. We fondly recall their futurism, we nostalgists.

    Comment by Matthew Schmitz — February 2, 2011 @ 9:36 pm

  3. Aspic is basically meat jello, so unholy seems a fair descriptor. Cream of celery, on the other hand, still makes a good base for a variety of casseroles and pot pies.

    Do people eat casserole anymore? I suppose that’s also a thing of the past.

    Comment by Christine — February 2, 2011 @ 11:40 pm

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