Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Grease... Not the Musical

by Connie Cortright

Used from WikiCommons
This week we're going a bit back in time before the 20s, 1911 to be exact. Crisco, first produced in 1911 by Procter and Gamble, was marketed as the new modern, scientific substitute for grease used for frying food. Made with all hydrogenated vegetable oils, it was introduced as an alternative to cooking with animal fats and butters. Part of the reason that women liked it was the fact that it stayed solid in the container no matter what the temperature was outside.

One hundred years ago Crisco was advertised to the wives of America as THE product needed to deep fry French fried potatoes, or fried chicken, or maybe even fish. You could use the same Crisco over and over again for frying because the taste of the food didn't carry from one food to the other. Crisco would cool down and could be poured back into the same original can because it was hydrogenated. It was the perfect thing to use in your kitchen every day for your food preparation.

Used from WikiCommons
As one advertisement read: "Having satisfied themselves, by actual experience, of the purity, richness, digestibility, economy and convenience of Crisco, they and their friends--and the friends of their friends--began to buy it in ever-increasing quantity."
Procter & Gamble helped to advertise the use of their new product by creating recipes for Crisco and sending cookbooks to wives across the country. They also had home economists teach cooking classes to the wives and daughters introducing the new recipes to them.

As in other food manufacturers, Procter & Gamble was very aware of the concern of consumers at this time to practice high cleanliness and hygiene in their factories. They required all employees to wear uniforms and had standards of cleanliness in the packing lines. The consumers reacted positively when these standards were publicized in advertisements.

In the 20s, Crisco started to be sold in an airtight can that was opened with a key. The airtight container kept the shortening fresher until it was used so the food tasted better as well. These cans were used into the 1960s, so I remember opening cans of Crisco like that.

Procter & Gamble used the radio airwaves to advertise their product in the late 20s and 30s. The cooking shows highlighting recipes made with Crisco were very popular among housewives. Mmmm... deep fried home-made raised doughnuts. Makes my mouth water to think of them.
Used from WikiCommons

While I was doing research for this blog post, I searched to understand What are hydrogenated fats?
The first sentence of this article says, "Hydrogenated fats are unnatural fats that are detrimental to your health." It goes on to explain that foods made with hydrogenated fats - like Crisco - are cheaper and less perishable than animal fats - like butter, but they don't digest as well and remain "stuck" in your blood circulation causing heart disease and possibly cancer.

It's amazing to think how much we've learned in a hundred years. Something that was touted as being good for you and digestible, now is looked on as bad for your health. I wonder how many cans of Crisco are still sitting on kitchen shelves today. I know I haven't had one in my kitchen for decades.

Information taken from Crisco History.