Food & Drink #5: The 1950's - The Meat Decade

image source: Mrs Bluesky

Browse through any cookbook or women's interest magazine from the 1950's and you will get bombarded by meat. Every recipe reads like this: Braise 10 pounds of pork roast with a teaspoon of gelatin, garnish with a sprig of broccolli.... and, presto, you're done! The four food groups of the 50's were: pork, beef, poultry and Spam. 

Fact: Most people on planet Earth have a staple food of either rice, wheat, maize (corn), millet, or tubers (potatoes).
Fact: In the 1950's, the American staple food was bacon.

I'm guessing they thought fruits and vegetables were for Commies, because there was precious little in their recipes. Usually they served simply as ornaments, meant to be looked at but never, NEVER, eaten. Other than meat, it was acceptable to consume large quantities of gelatin (fittingly, an animal by product).

Let's take a brief stroll throught the Meat Decade, shall we?

This beauty comes from the Gallery of Regretable Food. This seems to be some sort of greasy hybrid of Angel Food Cake and a hideously large shank of meat.  The GoRF says, "Believe me: I like meat. I enjoy meat. Once a week I treat myself to good ol' meat. This is not meat. This is something they scraped out of the airfilter from the engines of the Exxon Valdez." NOTE: the vegetables are strictly ornamental. Do NOT eat the vegetables.

image source: bayswater

Years before Dr. Atkins, the meat diet was already in effect. The ad delightfully proclaims that Americans eat 18 miles of meat each day!.... Hey, wait a minute. The gelatinized centerpiece is fine, but there seems to be something else on this platter that's not meat!  There's 8 radishes taking up valuable space which could be occupied by meat!  Oh, I guess they're merely harmless plate ornaments. Whew! (wiping sweat from brow) Just be sure to throw them away when it's time to tuck in at the dinner table.

image source: Jello Kitty

This bread shell is literally exploding with meat. This dish could also serve as a visual aid for what your arteries will look like if you keep eating this way. I wonder if any 1950's dads ever had blood vessels actually explode with Canadian bacon. Wouldn't surprise me.

Notice the ornamental sheaves of green onion. Again, I implore you to NOT eat the vegetables! Greens are for gays and Commies, so have your wife remove all plant material before serving.

"Gay and delicious" is not quite how I'd describe the Fiesta Peach Spam Loaf. "Repulsive barf mulch" is much more fitting. Let's just say for the sake of argument that I don't find Spam inedible, this image is still hideously unappealing.

My recipe description: The baked Spam glistens with perspiration atop a brick-shaped pile of sweat sweet potatoes. The color of sunburned skin lathered with oil, this gelatinous wedge of processed meat is ornamented with two slices of canned peaches. Mmm-mmm, good!

Can't get enough of 1950's meat dishes? I recommend the Vintage Meat Flickr pool.


  1. I inherited the cookbook collection of my Dad's oldest sister when she passed...over three thousand books, and about half are 1950s works full of photos like these...I used to read through them when i was little and visited her, and they are still a part of my personal image of that decade.

    Could that be why three of my uncles died before they reached 55??? Hmmmm...I'll ask my folks to see if we have any artery explosions in the family skeleton closet...lol...

  2. Loved this.
    I'm off to rid my kitchen of any nasty vegetable that may attempt to infiltrate the meat.

  3. Love this so much I just tweeted the link.

  4. This post is just jam-packed with meaty goodness!

  5. My cholesterol just shot up 50 points just reading this.
    No vegetables were eaten in the making of these photos, but three herd of cattle and thirty pigs gave their lives for your dinning pleasure.

  6. But SPAM is not really meat, it is a frightening pink substance of undetermined origins.

    It is fruitless to try and understand the 50s obsession with meat.

    And I was amused by the assumption that Eating Meat was a Manly thing to do. Real Women eat - vegetable quiche, perhaps?

  7. You have to remember that the 1950s followed the depression and World War II rationing, so to have that much meat available was fantastic. Everyone was tired of vegetables from the garden.

  8. I love veggies, but I'm definitely a meat man. I don't think my family has ever done a meal without some sort of meat. It's always the centerpiece around these parts.

  9. I eat meat too. However, it's generally not a Brontosaurus sized slab glistening with grease, with maybe a sprig of decorative vegetable matter.

    I can feel my arteries harden just thinking about it.

  10. "2 delicious ways to help keep yourself in trim!" - hotdogs and a platter full of processed meat. Classic.

    I sent the link to this post to my mother and she nearly died from laughter (she works in a hospital).

  11. Yes, I work in a hospital and the people who ate this stuff in the fifties are keeping me in a job! Hilarious!

  12. That picture of a hunk of meat on what it looks like angel food cake really made me queasy...in a good sort of way.

    Gilligan, this rant is a winner...let us all raise our A1 or Heinz 57 in salute of meat glorious meat!