Vintage Spry Cookbook, 1942
When I found this vintage cookbook at a garage sale I wanted to know what Spry was. It turns out to be an earlier Crisco competitor that lasted until the 70s. The product gained popularity through its character Aunt Jenny, who hosted a weekly radio soap opera with recipes.
This booklet opens with an appeal to women’s to build national strength by feeding their families good wholesomeand plenty of it. And Spry vegetable shortening provides that all in pastries, pies, casseroles and biscuits. Spry topples the food pyramid and emphasizes the importance of and carbs. Fats provide lasting energy at only 4000 calories per day (8 times the total amount of recommended fat today). And don’t forget the recommended egg and pint of whole milk, plus some pats of butter to top off the mound of cholesterol. Big Boy would be jealous!
Even fruit can help round off the daily fat intake: Cherry cobblers, berry dumplings, apple fritters, and chocolate cranberry bread. I think it is time for me to pick more berries.
The next section discusses frying with Spry. They remind us that you can make “pleasant and digestible” fries made with only 2 POUNDS of delicious Spry. (Seriously, just how many cans do they want you to buy?) However, it is true that everything tastes better fried: Twinkies, cookie dough,, just to name a few. In fact, all I remember from high school health class is “Fat give food its flavor.” I don’t really think that was the message we were supposed to learn, but is must have been effective because I still remember it.
After looking over a dozen cookie recipes I found one that seemed relatively tasty: Canteen Bars. They must be good– just look at the ruddy, smiling, excited faces of the men. Notice how the young sailor suddenly becomes a best buddy of the cookie recipient and puts his arm around him while reaching with the other hand for a delicious canteen cookie bar.
The recipe was pretty simple. It called for coconut and nuts, but that seemed rather boring. To get more of anfeel I added some chocolate to the nut mix too. The results tasted pretty good and gooey. My wife was apprehensive but eventually admitted the cookies were pretty good, as evidenced by the fact we each ate two.
The best find from this old cookbook was Aunt Jenny’s Favorite Cookies with lemon. Her signature cookies affirmed the simplicity of cooking with Spry. I followed the recipe directions and added the sugar and shortening (alas, Crisco since Spry no longer exists). The mixture became very creamy when beaten. It turns out 1 and 1/2 cups of vegetable shortening is a lot, even more than the amount in pie crust. The batter was still over half Spry. So basically, we were going to be eating balls of shortening. Yummy!
I decided to follow option 2 for the lemon version. The citrus lent an extra zip to the cookies. And since you just can’t get enough lemon, I added even a little more zest.
It turns out they were yummy. Very yummy. So much so that it was hard to save some for bringing to family. Good thing the recipe made 5 dozen cookies!
Spry claims its vegetable shortening product makes any baked good delicious. My experience shows that to be generally true. But if everything were so delicious perhaps nothing would be special. And we really would be tubs of lard, or rather delicious Spry.
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