Culinary History

Unintenionally Funny Culinary Ephemera and Food Ad Gallery

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Fri, May 7, 2010 at 7:19 AM

Food advertising may not be built to last forever, but it sure can be entertaining. Scan online ephemera collections and you'll quickly find a collection of tasty--and sometimes stomach turning--food advertisements that prove some promotional materials really should have a brief shelf life.

Aspiring food historians can unearth culinary ephemera and advertising within Flickr's vintage advertising pool. Individual collectors and contributors post found images--some scanned and others photographed--from newspapers and magazines dating back to the early 1900's. Other online resources include two blogs: Candyboots.com, a blogger who posts colorful commentary and disturbing images of Weight Watchers recipes dating back to the 70's, and Found in My Mom's Basement, a blog that that gives readers images discovered in basements and antique fairs.

Amongst the quaint imagery and pioneering designs, we offer you this gallery of odd culinary ephemera from the past.

1. Trim the Margins: Perhaps the slogan was enough to kill this product.

click to enlarge FLICKR MEMBER GLEN.H
  • Flickr member glen.h

2. How to Kill the Sausage Fad: Though diners in the 1900's may not have minded the image of self-mutilating animals, it's hard to image this sausage manufacturers ad campaign taking off today. This illustration is too over the top, even for today's pro-butchery audience.

click to enlarge Disturbing Culinary Ephemera
  • Disturbing Culinary Ephemera

3. Food Styling Disaster: Convenience food may be an easy sell, but not with food styling this bad. Another example of why no-cook-dishes aren't the rage.

click to enlarge You don't have to cook to ruin your appetite! - FLICKR MEMBER GLEN.H
  • Flickr member glen.h
  • You don't have to cook to ruin your appetite!

4. Food Style Your Way to Weight Loss: Weight Watchers offered this series of recipe cards to show women in the 1970's just how easy it could be to cook at home and lose weight. Now we know why.

click to enlarge A haunting example of Weight Watchers' recipes from the 70's - CANDYBOOTS.COM
  • Candyboots.com
  • A haunting example of Weight Watchers' recipes from the 70's

5. Eat More Salt! Fear Not the Goiter! Perhaps ad campaigns like this one may make a retaliatory reappearance as the FDA plans to limit salt in Americans' processed food.

click to enlarge Iodized Salt Keeps Goiters Away - ALL-CLASSIC-ADS.COM
  • all-classic-ads.com
  • Iodized Salt Keeps Goiters Away

6. It Costs How Much? It's hard to believe that back in the day, airplane food was this exciting. One can only guess how much today's airline would charge for such an awe-inspiring meal.

click to enlarge When airplane food was good - FLICKR MEMBER MSBLUESKY
  • Flickr member MsBlueSky
  • When airplane food was good

Brooke Burton is also the author of Foodwoolf.com.

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