Following raisins down the history trail

Calif. Raisins

We recently came across a PDF online of a 1932 SunMaid raisin cookbook - and couldn't help but be intrigued - this was even before our time! Raisins were apparently pretty exotic back then - in fact, while we think of them as merely dried grapes, in the book they're described as "Thermo-Jell'd, "  which makes each raisin into a "tiny jar of jelly."

But, of course, it is the recipes that make us either wince or drool - but certainly fascinated. While the baking options actually still sound enticing, it was the (to be fair, few) attempts to convert raisins into entrees that fascinate. This is perhaps best exemplified by the "Raisin Spaghetti Ring", which called for "2 cups of raw spaghetti, one cup of grated cheese (strong), 1 cup raisins, 1 cup soft white bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion, 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper, 2 eggs, and 1 1/2 cups milk." When the ring was baked and unmolded, the instructions were to "fill center with some fish." Other attempts at entrees included pot roast, cheese souffle, and Mexican rice.

If you, like us, are intrigued by a look back, here's where you can download a copy of the cookbook (it's only 15 pages long).

And for those of you of a certain age, here's another link that will take you back - the classic commercial of the California raisins doing their Michael Jackson imitation while singing "Heard it Through the Grapevine" - complete with appearance by Jackson (sort of) and a fainting strawberry. Enjoy! 

Photo by Richard Elzey

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