Sunday, June 27, 2010

Insane Weight Watchers recipe cards from 1974


I found them while helping my parents clean out their basement a few years ago. They were neatly arranged in their own plastic file box. Plenty of the dishes seemed normal enough, but as I flipped through them, some of the recipes began to alarm me. And then I found the card for the "Rosy Perfection Salad."

I fell over. Like I Iaughed so hard I started coughing and I fell back on the floor and I waved the card at my mom, who just rolled her eyes. "Can I please have these? Please?" I begged. "What do you want them for?" she asked. "To cook?" "No," I said. She let me have them. I think they might have been my grandma's, but she never copped to actually buying them. Nobody else did, either.

These cards mystify me. None of them have calorie or nutrition information of any kind, and in some instances it's hard to tell what's dietetic about the recipes at all, except that they're unspeakably grim. And yet also, completely insane. They appear to be from a much kookier era of Weight Watchers. There's a certain serve-it-at- your-next-key-party freakiness to a lot of these dishes.

Dehydrated onion flakes are in almost everything here. Apparently Weight Watchers dieticians depended heavily on dried onion flakes, and pimientos, too.

They also had a prop department that was clearly out of control. Oh, you'll see.
As far as I know, I was never served any of these dishes as a child. I probably would have repressed the memory, anyway.

This feature owes a great spiritual debt to sites like Cate's Garage Sale Finds and especially James Lilek's Gallery of Regrettable Food.

oh, anastasia

This looks like hell but I sure dig the "Czarina" part. Would you enjoy Tuna Czarina, or Cottage Cheese Czarina, or Cream of Wheat Czarina? You almost would, right?

Okay, never mind.

And what's with the shower curtain on the right?


I hope that you can see that this is a jellied salad. Do you see it glisten? Do you require a close-up to understand that these beans and mushrooms and pimiento strips are one solid, glistening mass? Okay!

See how the Ceramic Mushroom Family has gathered to show their children what happens to bad little mushrooms.

my pretties, I shall eat your livers

Chicken Liver Bake: enjoy it with the ashes of a loved one.

Or maybe what's left of the chickens are in that urn. Maybe the chickens were your loved ones.

But chickens never love back enough. And that's why you have to KILL them. And eat their livers ritualistically. And then they're a part of you forever. Forever.

roly poly fish balls
Why, they're much bigger than one would think...

mmm, pudding

Once upon a time the world was young and the words "mackerel" and "pudding" existed far, far away from one another.

One day, that all changed. And then, whoever was responsible somehow thought the word fluffy would help.

Oh, and eggs, too.

There's lettuce. There's pickles. There's capers. There's lime. There's parsley. There's celery inside. Chives, too. It's green. All green. No other guiding culinary principle except... green.

It's a meal! It's an obsessive disorder! It's both!

quench my ass
These are the saddest diet beverages ever.

The one on the right is skim milk and orange pulp. The one on the left is made with water, sherry extract, and two beef bouillon cubes.

No, really.

Well, there's also celery in it. Oh, and SELF-LOATHING.

ye olde log
You could eat this log. Or you could stick your hand in a rusty kitchen grinder. Yeah, have fun.

Would you like Polynesian Snack? With beautiful flower?

Where is fork? Is Snack for to eat with hand?

You like canned bean sprout? And buttermilk? And pimiento? And fruit piece? Mix all together? No? Oh. Maybe Snack is not for you.

the OTHER white meat

I have no idea what "shashlik" is. All I know about this dish is that it's meat. And that the meat's, uh... caucasian.

We are gathered here today!!!!
Um, I guess this is a salad best enjoyed at the house of that one scary lady down the street who never leaves the house and talks to her knicknacks.

I showed this card to a friend who said, "What the hell's in that bowl-- bong water?!"

Is that why the ceramic animals are so drawn to it? Is it their magical pond?
Why have they gathered? What do they want?

snap snap!
Well, as adjectives for mackerel go, you could do worse than "snappy." Snappy! So snappy you need three glasses of cranberry juice to wash it down! So snappy they've placed it in a special roped-off area! Don't get too close to the casserole! 'Cause it'll SNAP at ya! Ha! Ha! SNAPPY!

I don't think you're ready for this jelly.

I don't think you'll ever be. None of us will. No. No way.

I really don't understand

Um, where do I even begin here? Which bowl is Siegfried's? Which one is Roy's?

What is going on here? What? What is the meaning? Of Jell-O, and peaches, and huge-ass ceramic cheetah, and paper flowers? And... freaky dried pod thingies? What are those? 

Should we smoke them? Have we been smoking them? 

Snifter o' gore!
Yes, let's have these in brandy snifters. Let's just tip our heads back and let the chunks slide in.

The time you spent eating these is time you'll want back at the very end of your life. That's why they're served with a clock.

so... confused...
Sometimes salmon will come to the big city full of dreams. Only to wind up used, and mangled, and reconstituted, and all tarted up in some kind of sick, horrifying salmon drag.

Look, it's still trying to spawn. With lemons. It's confused. Oh, man, so sad.

It's even more heartbreaking when they're young.

it looks like liver, but it's snot!

This is... um, it's... Uh.

Yeah. It's just...oh, God. And... the pig...

Okay. I am at a loss here. We all are.

oh, frank God.

I had no idea frankfurters could be so spectacular. Wow!

I would almost be willing to upholster a whole damn pineapple with pork product just to be able to say I was serving Frankfurter Spectacular. Say it with me: Frankfurter! Spectacular!
Why would you even want to eat this? Why, when you could keep your mouth busy for hours just by repeating the life-affirming phrase that is "Frankfurter Spectacular."


Thank you.

*Note for the sensitive, young children and small animals: language warning for some of these.


Rachel said...

My sides are aching from laughing so hard. That is not an exaggeration. I didn't even click the link for more because my ribcage needs to recover first!

Anonymous said...

And the diabetic(me) said: Thanks for the laugh. I needed it.

Roland Denzel said...

Great stuff! Hilarious.

I was just telling someone about Lileks and his gallery the other day. It appears to be gone... Sad.

Thanks for the huge laughs!


Laurie said...

I got married in 1976 and have similar cards that were obtained through the mail, one packet a month, until I had a whole glorious plastic box full of them. You can bet that I'll be dragging those puppies out of the back of the cabinet tonight. Hilarious!

Jjoy said...

My mom had this set when I was a kid. Just imagine this stuff served with a backdrop of kitchen appliances in harvest gold and avocado green...

Therese said...

lol., Great post. I am glad WW has changed over the years.

Rachel said...

Okay, I just read this post again after a year and ONCE AGAIN my sides hurt from laughing so hard!

Vincenzo said...

LOL so I did I. Just sent it to some friends last night.