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Once upon a diet card

(article, Caroline Cummins)

Lest we forget that there are fads in food as well as fashion, Candyboots is happy to take us on a trip down memory (or hangover) lane).

The website of writer Wendy McClure, who likes to make fun of all those trends we used to take so seriously, Candyboots features a plug for McClure's 2006 book The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan:
Classic Diet Recipe Cards from the 1970s and (even better) a slide show of the cards themselves.

[%image feed-image float=left width=250 caption="The Frankfurter Spectacular!"]

There's Rosy Perfection Salad, a concoction of what looks like jellied red cabbage. There's the fabulously Frankensteinian hot-dog sculpture dubbed the Frankfurter Spectacular. And there's Slender Quenchers, or what McClure calls "the saddest diet drinks ever."

All these attempts at creating diet art instead of real food are familiar to Laura Shapiro, author of [%bookLink code=0375756655 "Perfection Salad"] and Something From the Oven. McClure's diet cards might date from the 1970s, but their aesthetic is very much of the 1950s: women shouldn't eat at all, and if they must, it should be fake, sculptured food. As Shapiro puts it in Something From the Oven:

bq. Women could vote by the 1950s, and they could drive cars and work for wages, but they weren't supposed to eat like men, much less look as though they did. Canned and frozen products, food that had been stripped, sanitized, and rendered lifeless, was perfectly suited to the kind of women shown in the ads for refrigerators and ranges, all smiles in their aprons and high heels . . . Whipped cream, maraschino cherries, quivering gelatin salads — by midcentury the link between femaleness and weird, gaudy dishes of no recognizable provenance was a culinary assumption as inevitable as the pairing of salt and pepper.

Snappy Mackerel Casserole, anyone?


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