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Collecting Cookbooks & Recipes Is (Usually) In Good Taste

I have a thing for vintage cookbooks. Like many collectors of cookbooks, I began by finding the ones my mother and grandmother used. From there, well, I really didn’t have a plan or recipe for collecting… I still don’t. I pretty much just buy whatever appeals to me — and that I can afford, that is.

In the past few years, the cost of antique and vintage cookbooks has been climbing higher and higher. Some of the classic Betty Crocker binder-style cookbooks from the 1960s are now selling for well over $100. It’s not just personal nostalgia pushing the prices higher either. You can blame the economy, if you want; cooking at home has always been a part of thrift and those financially hurting can seek to make their own comfort food at home for less. You can also thank big public health campaigns for reminding people what real food, healthy home cooking, and the like are all about, creating renewed interest in old cookbooks. And you can thank a general cultural nostalgic swing that pretty much has everyone longing for simpler times, if not simpler meals.

One way around the increasing prices of vintage cookbooks is to look for vintage recipe cards. Sometimes you can find complete recipe boxes full of handwritten recipes on index cards priced inexpensively. But some of the real gold to be found at affordable prices are the little recipe cards sent out by the manufacturers of ye olde food products of yesteryear.

You might think that these vintage promotional pieces would be pricey, or that collectors of advertising items would be scooping them all up. But, as often is the case with little bits of paper, these little recipe cards are usually pretty cheap. For example, this set of vintage Betty Crocker recipe cards from Gold Medal Flour (still in the original mailing envelope and with the original slips to order an official Gold Medal Flour Home Service Recipe Box!) is just $3.

As you can see, many of the food products promoted with the vintage recipe cards are still around too. This makes following the recipes much easier than you might have imagined. Of course, you can substitute with your favorite traditional family brands or another brand you have a coupon for as well.

But that doesn’t mean all the recipes are healthy or even in good taste. Even without horrific graphic depictions of foods and insane food combinations, the vintage recipes aren’t always what I want to try (making or eating). For example, this set of vintage recipe cards from Log Cabin Syrup (also in the original mailing envelope and just $3!) includes a recipe for pouring maple syrup on boiled rice. (Hubby says he would eat that because it’s like tapioca pudding. And maybe that’s healthier than other desserts. But I won’t eat any rice pudding, especially not when maple syrup flavored.)

What I do love about these vintage recipe cards are A) the other great desserts and B) the “Remember the can” slogan. Who could forget the old Log Cabin Syrup containers that looked like log cabins?!

Whatever your personal tastes, you can always find recipes in old cookbooks and on vintage recipe cards to suit your tastes. Along the way, you will certainly find things that are hard to swallow too, be it the recipes themselves, the “health” recommendations, or the inappropriate advertising icons, slogans, etcetera. In any case, collecting these old advertising pieces is always interesting. And, right now, they are inexpensive finds.


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