End Of The Season? (And A Giveaway!)

Around here, in the frozen tundra of Fargo, North Dakota, the Labor Day holiday weekend signals the end of summer, cook-outs on the grill — and the flea market season. Sure, there are a few stragglers… The odd garage sale sign posted every now and then, the rare nice afternoon to still barbecue on the grill… But the major collectibles hunting (and food preparation) is now limited to indoor places.

As a Wisconsin native, I miss the nicer weather which extends the antiques and collectibles hunting season. And I know, those of you much further south have no real seasonal limits — how I envy that!  I’m looking forward to the day I can travel to extend my hunting, so won’t you help me out?

Post in the comments where you live and when the antiquing season ends (or, if it doesn’t end, when it slows or what seasonal or weather changes bring) and I’ll enter you in a chance to win this vintage grilling cookbook: the Big Boy Barbecue Book, by the Home Economics Staff of Tested Recipe Institute, Inc, with the cooperation of the barbecue experts of Big Boy Manufacturing Co. and the Kinsgford Chemical Co., copyright 1956.

Additional Ways To Enter:

* Follow Inherited Values on Twitter: @InheritedValues. (Please leave your Twitter username in your comment so I can check.)

and/or

* Tweet the following:

I’m talking about the flea market season, antiques & vintage collectibles @InheritedValues — There’s a giveaway too!

(Remember to come back here and leave a comment with your tweet for me to verify.)

You may tweet your entry once a day.

and/or

* “Like” us on Face Book: Inherited Values on Facebook

and/or

* Post about this contest at your blog or website — if you do this you must include in your post to this contest post or Inherited Values in general. (Please include the link to your blog post in the comments section so that I can find your post.)

You can do any or all of these, but remember, the only one you can do daily is Tweet. Thanks!

Here’s the giveaway fine print:

* Giveaway is open to US residents only
* Contest ends September 16, 2011; entries must be made on or before midnight, central time, September 15, 2011. Winner will be announced/contacted on September 17, 2011. Winner has 48 hours to respond; otherwise, I’ll draw another name.

Collecting Cookbooks, Magazines & Ephemera While Losing Weight: An Interview With Retro Mimi

When I stumbled upon Mimi and her Retro Weight Watchers Experiment, I couldn’t take my eyes away…

I wanted to; but I couldn’t. *wink*

You know what they say, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” so I decided to join Mimi — in an interview.

When did you begin collecting Weight Watchers publications?

A couple years ago. It’s hard to say–it just sort of “happened.”

Did you set out to purposefully collect Weight Watchers items — or did you sort of realize that you were doing so over time?

It all started with one cookbook: a fellow WW member gave me a copy of The 1972 Weight Watchers Program Cookbook. I became so intrigued with it that I had to know everything about this crazy & wonderful program. Incidentally, my mom lost a great deal of weight on the 1972 WW program after I was born–so this added to my fascination with it. After I got my hands on that first retro cookbook… pretty soon, I started looking for more information, recipes, books, magazines, etc.

It became a hobby (read: obsession), and people started giving me their old WW stuff. The WW magazines are my favorite. They are hard to find, but they really contain some of the best “gems” and really represent the evolution of the WW program over the years.

What’s your criteria for collecting Weight Watchers publications? Are issues limited to a specific time period, condition rules, etc.

I am really only interested in the magazines from 1970-1976. These were the really wild and wacky years. Or as I like to call them: The Knox Gelatin years… The liver-once-a-week years…. The Fluffy Mackerel Pudding years. So the recipes are really horrifying and funny. But there is also something endearing to me about the program during these years. WW was so genuine and sincere about helping its members. It was like a family. Or a secret society or something. Really kitschy and cool.

How many do you think you have?

Maybe 50? But growing every day…

How do you organize them?

Since I reference and use them regularly–they are kept in a jelly cupboard in my kitchen alongside all of my other favorite cookbooks–both retro and otherwise.

How do people react to your collection?

Most people think my retro WW magazines are pretty odd. Most of the recipes are gag-inducing. Some of the recipes literally make you say “what were they thinking??” My husband tries not to look at them anymore. He had a bad experience with an aspic, and that scarred him for life.

You’ve been putting your collection to use; tell us about your blog and the Skinny Jeans Project.

My blog www.theskinnyjeansproject.blogspot.com is both a tribute and an adventure. As a Weight Watchers lifetime member who has lost over 40 pounds on the modern day WW program, I wanted to pay tribute to the history of WW and all of the brave women (including my mom) who followed this program in the early days. I also pay tribute to Jean Nidetch–the founder of WW and author of all of the publications I reference on my blog.

But most of all–my blog is a crazy adventure that I decided to embark upon as I turned 40. I figured it was time to do something BIG. I wanted to get back into my “skinny jeans”, so I thought I would incorporate the rules and recipes from the 1970’s WW program into my current weight loss plan and write about it. I re-create some scary retro WW recipes and yes–I even eat them. At times it is horrifying. At times it is delicious. You never know what dietetic disaster will end up on the platter… Maybe a giant Mackerel and Cantaloupe Salad? Maybe a Crown Roast of Frankfurters? Maybe a Chicken Buttermilk Loaf? Stop by and check it out! I dare you…

Because you use the books and magazines as intended, do you consider them collectibles?

I guess so. To me they are both collector’s items and cherished resources. Not all of my Retro WW magazines and cookbooks are in mint condition, but I love them all just the same!

Do you think you will begin collecting other cookbooks, health & diet publications, etc. from that period — or will you remain a Weight Watchers purist?

I admit that I am drawn to any cookbooks or magazines with a good selection of gelatin mold recipes. Better Homes and Gardens Circa 1955-1970 are my current fave. I also cherish my Knox On Camera cookbook from 1962. It’s a bit creepy, but I have a slight obsession with Knox Gelatin and anything that can be gelatinized. There’s something wonderful to me about “gel cookery” and the women who took that much time and effort to prepare something so disgustingly weird.

I also love any cookbooks or magazines focusing on the topic of retro dieting. I recently picked up a cookbook from 1961 called “Glorious Eating for Weight Watchers” for .50 at a flea market. It was published by Wesson Oil, had nothing to do with Weight Watchers and mostly contained pictures of fried food. I found this to be quite strange. I had to have it.

Anything you’d like to add or mention about your collection that I didn’t mention?

Aside from the recipes, which is what I love most about my Retro WW Magazines–each issue features a fashion section, a “success stories” section, and many valuable articles about health and fitness. But the best part of WW Magazine HANDS DOWN is “Ask Jean…” where readers get to write in with their questions, comments and complaints and have them answered by Jean Nidetch–the founder of WW. These letters and responses are never dull, because, well…let’s just say: Jean has chutzpah and tons of charm. To say the least.

So do you, Mimi; so do you.

I’d like to thank Mimi for sharing more information about her collection — even more than she shares at her blog. For quick retro WW bites, follow Mimi on Twitter @RetroMimi — “Sometimes its easier to swallow in small doses!”

Looking For Help Dating Your Vintage Pillsbury Collectibles?

I was looking for information to properly date this vintage Pillsbury cookbook so I could accurately list it on eBay and I found this fabulous guide to Pillsbury cookbooks and advertising pieces — I just had to share it!

From Bull Cook To Bull Crap With George Leonard Herter

At an estate sale on Friday I grabbed this book, thinking it would have some interesting recipes and tips for my vintage home ec blog. It was $5, which I’ll admit is a bit more than I typically pay for a book I know nothing about… Oddly, there was no table of contents to assist me in my evaluation, but the title was intriguing: Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices.

Turns out, it was a fabulous find!

Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices, by George Leonard Herter and Berthe E. Herter, is the first of a number of books by Geoerge Leonard Herter (some available as modern reprints). In fact, Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices itself would later have three volumes; something I discovered via a trip later that day to a local antique mall, where all three volumes could be found (even later editions, in golden boards; each at $19.95).

While I haven’t tested any of the recipes (and there’s more than a few I will probably never ever try!), I can personally attest to the incredible array of topics covered in this vintage book.

Along with recipes for corning liquid, Norwegian Fried Ham, and Fish Tongues Scandinavian, Herter gives you the real history of the Martini, informs you which foods the Virgin Mary was fond of (creamed spinach), instructs you on how to dress a turtle and broil tiger’s feet, and tells you what you must know in case of a hydrogen bomb attack. It’s rather as the author promises right on the first page:

I will start with meats, fish, eggs, soups and sauces, sandwiches, vegetables, the art of French frying, desserts, how to dress game, how to properly sharpen a knife, how to make wines and beer, how to make French soap and also what to do in case of hydrogen or cobalt bomb attack, keeping as much in alphabetical order as possible.

But what makes this book so engaging — or, as Paul Collins calls it in The New York Times, “one of the greatest oddball masterpieces in this or any other language” — is its author. Collins describes George Leonard Herter as “a  surly sage, gun-toting Minnesotan and All-American crank” –which translates easily enough to “old coot,” a breed I am particularly fond of.

Herter was the heir to Herter’s, Inc., an outdoor sporting goods business founded in 1893 located in Waseca, Minnesota. (The company closed decades ago; but the brand lives on via Cabela’s — and hunters and sportsmen are avoid collectors of vintage Herter’s items.)

It’s not quite clear if Herter’s authorship was simply a genius marketing move, or if he just had more he was desperate to say — even after writing thousands of product descriptions and essays for the company’s catalogs, like this 1974 “How to Buy an Outdoor Knife” essay, whi to promote Herter’s Improved Bowie Knife:

An outdoor knife must be made for service–not show. Your life may depend on it. Real outdoor people realize that so-called sportsmen or outdoor knives have long been made for sale, not for use. The movies and television show their characters wearing fancy sheath knives. Knife makers advertised them and drugstore outdoorsmen bought them. [insert a picture that looks something like a Marble Woodcraft or an old Western fixed blade here] Nothing marks a man to be a tenderfoot more than these showy useless knives.

Ahh, classic Herter.

But whatever the case, savvy marketing or the need to “talk,” Herter was prolific and opinionated in his writings.

Most of Herter’s books were, at least in title, based upon the sporting goods business and the outdoorsman’s life — even with a few giant steps into the domestic world.  However, his book How To Live With A Bitch is not — I repeat NOT, about a female hunting dog. (If you cannot find a copy listed among Herter’s works at eBay, check Amazon for this elusive gem.)

So, what begins with a $5 bargain (for a hardcover copy of a 1961 third printing), leads to more fascinating fun than I can barely stand — but wait! There’s more!

I found this book on Friday morning at an estate sale, spotted the three volumes at an antique mall later that afternoon,  and then I even managed to snatch another copy (1963, sixth printing) for $6 at an auction on Saturday! This makes me very hopeful that more Herter books will fall into my hands — and I’m thrilled to do more of the collector’s kind of hunting.

Further reading:

A review of Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices, by George Leonard Herter and Berthe E. Herter at Neglected Books.

Reminiscing about Herter’s at Topix.

Image credits:

Photo of George Herter, by Peter Marcus (1966) via the NY Times article by Paul Collins.

Vintage photo of Herter’s Inc. via Waseca Alums.