What’s Cooking Wednesday: Holiday Sugar Spike

This World War II poster offers no advice on keeping cookies fresh for Santa! ARC 514370

Have you visited our exhibit “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” Don’t wait! The exhibit closes on January 3, 2012.

Are you in a sugar coma yet? If not, there’s still time to make some sweet desserts straight from the records of the National Archives.

These favorite cookie recipes (below) come from the 1966 Forest Service Fire Lookout Cookbook, part of the holdings of the National Archives at Seattle. They look pretty delicious—let us know if you try any of them! Lucky for you, we are not sharing  the Forest Service’s recipe for peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches topped with grated carrot.

These aren’t the only holiday-ready recipes in the National Archives. Americans love their sweets and we’ve got lots of dessert recipes. Even during hard times, when sugar was rationed to six tablespoons per day, Americans found ways to cook something sweet. In 1918, the U.S. Food Administration recommended using “molasses, corn syrup, maple syrup, glucose, maple sugar, corn sugar, honey, raisins, dates or figs.” A recipe for “War Time Strawberry Shortcake” uses three cups of strawberries but only three tablespoons of sugar.

In the records of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is a recipe for “Fruit Cake,” published in Aunt Sammy’s Radio Recipes, a popular book for housewives who listened to the radio show. This recipe called for raisins, currants, citron, sugar, cider, jelly, sour cream, and molasses—so it was pretty sweet! There were 16 ingredients total, including 1/2 pound of butter.

By the 1930s, recipes also tried to make more with less, so the  “Inexpensive Christmas Cake” had only 10 ingredients—one of those was boiling water. And, rather oddly, 1/2 pound of salt pork.

Things get even sweeter with the Presidents. The Truman Family Pound Cake has one pound of sugar in it . . . and one pound of butter. This is just for the cake and doesn’t include the icing! We have a recipe for “Praline Ice Cream Bombe” from President Ford that has only 5 ingredients: ice cream, whipping cream, praline paste, hazelnuts, and chocolate. And President Carter enjoyed “Peanut Brittle,” which featured his beloved peanuts and three cups of sugar and one cup of white corn syrup.

The recipes for the cookies from the Lookout Cookbook are below. The rest of these recipes are in our exhibit cookbook Eating With Uncle Sam.

Recipes for cookies from the 1966 Forest Service Fire Lookout Cookbook, National Archives at Seattle

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