Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – 1950′s Betty Crocker’s “Dinner for Two” Cookbook

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Featuring 425 “new” recipes plus a special “When-Company-Comes” section, this cookbook, published in 1958 by General Mills, was designed expressly for “brides, business girls, career wives and mothers of married children”. Divided into sections like Regional Meals USA, Pennywise Dinners and What Every Good Cook Knows, as is often the case with vintage cookbooks the quintessentially Atomic 50′s graphics and fonts are even better than the recipes themselves.

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There are also many tips for what to do in the presence of meat and its other food friends. Like when you’re at the market “select canned goods economically.”

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I never realized there was such a distinction between peas. Then again, I’m not much of a cook unless cooking means going online and ordering in. I’m the type to fast forward to “Foreign Lands–Hawaii” where I find this excellent dessert relying solely on colored toothpicks, maraschino cherries, canned pineapple and ice. This degree of culinary skill is right up my allee.

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There’s even a lesson on setting the table correctly as “an atmosphere of charm at mealtime forms the background for fine living.” Look how the career wife, while learning how to give a dinner party for four, sweeps into pose to peer at her table through a microscope making sure no detail is overlooked in planning a buffet to insure that “an atmosphere of informal hospitality prevails.”

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This illustration of a tourist couple taking photos next to whoever the famous Dane is depicted in statue on the rock  makes the Danish Apple Pudding recipe taste even more Danish.

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As an artist, I’m especially drawn to page 169. Not only does all it take to make Croissants is yeast, Bisquick and water but it suggests that you serve Chocolate Eclairs along with them. Better yet, the recipe merely points you in the direction of a box of Betty Crocker Cream Puff Mix and you’re on your own from there.

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Look how interested the potatoes are at how they’re going to be sliced:

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When not looking at the pictures there are wonderful ideas to cook for your +1 like Baked Prune Whip and Unbaked Prune Whip.

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I’m actually having three people over for lunch today and two more over for dinner tonight. One group will be eating Italian and the other Chinese and, despite the fact that Betty Crocker says this cookbook is perfect for “the working girl, active in her career and social life”, I will be spending no time in the kitchen at all.

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Categories: Art, Book, Brands, Food, Kitchen, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Mispackaged Chuckwagon Airstream Combination Salt & Pepper Shaker

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Categories: Accessories, Advertising/ Promotion, Kitchen, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Transportation

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Mislabeled Orange Measuring Cups

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Because of their perfect shape and glowing color the orange has captured the imagination of designers since the beginning of time. In this case, the glowing hive is cut into four perfect  horizontal slices making for four different measuring cups, each daintily festooned with a little leaf handle. One would think because of the precision round shape of an orange that this dividing up into four sections should happen with no mishaps. But to this kitsch lover’s heart’s delight two different size slices are labeled 1/3 cup.

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Categories: Accessories, Food, Furniture and Housewares, Kitchen, Kitsch

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – James Dean, Main Drain and Brown Material Roads

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I drove up to Monterey on Friday from LA. Most people would get excited about going to the Aquarium or Cannery Row but I get excited about the cheesy names of the roads on a shortcut we take from the 5 to the 101 off an exit called Lerdo Higway that connects you to Highway 46 where James Dean met his maker. Once you exit the 5, the first “main street” you hit is Main Drain.

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Categories: Celebrity, Hollywood, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, People, Place, Sign, Transportation, Travel

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – 1950′s Atomic White Bowl

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It’s not often I get excited by a dish or bowl that’s solid white. It seems like such a missed opportunity for self-expression via a compelling color palette. But this brilliant sweep of 18 inches of ceramic, a stone cold product of the Space Age Atomic 1950′s, screams to be pristine hospital white, especially when its cargo is this complimentary of a match:

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Categories: Accessories, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Sculpture

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Cheerleader Wall Plaques, Toni Basil and Dinner at Street

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Whenever I look at these metal cheerleader wall plaques made by Sexton in the 1960′s I think of Toni Basil because you can see how happy these girls are doing their cheers. In 1982, the year that “Oh Mickey you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Mickey” was all you could hear on the radio, Toni, singer, choreographer extraordinaire and the woman responsible for making cheerleading ultra cool, and I were best of friends. She was one of my first girlfriends when I moved to LA in 1976 and I’ve always loved my collaborations with her because she’s fearless, decisive and eternally ahead of the curve.

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Categories: Celebrity, Dance, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Music, Self expression, Sports, Street

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Holiday Cleanup with the Ronco Miracle Broom

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In 1973 when the Ronco Miracle Broom sprung on the market half of the households in America started vacuuming their shag with this revolutionary cordless electric vacuum cleaner.  That’s reason enough to collect it now but with products like this, especially those made in the 70′s and especially in the genre of products sold on TV – the Miracle Broom was among the first of hard-sell filmed TV commercials hawking new and unique products birthing what would later be known as the infomercial – oftentimes the box was as good as the product that came in it. Not to say that this Streamlined Moderne-meets-70′s-modern looking gadget isn’t great in and of itself but the graphics showing suggested uses of the product are even better. Blown out color, cheesy furniture and excellence in hand modeling being some of the pillars of that greatness. Here’s one of my favorite shots:

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Categories: Accessories, Advertising/ Promotion, Brands, Furniture and Housewares, Gadgets, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, TV/Radio

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Happy 4th of July Ball B-B-Q!

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Designed by William Wiggins for Shepherd Products of Toronto in 1970, this aluminum ball shaped barbecue which featured a double stack of cooking racks and a rollover cover was about as modern as you could get back in the day. The hottest of the colors it came in was a gorgeous shade of red orange which this one originally was when I rescued it for 99 cents from a Salvation Army. Here it is in brand new, pristine shape:

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Categories: Food, Furniture and Housewares, Holidays, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Party

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – 1960′s Miss Breck Hair Spray

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Although I was always an Aquanet gal back in the day when I would let hairspray anywhere near my hair, THE ubiquitous brand of follicle gluiness was Breck. Breck ads were on the back covers of the biggest women’s magazines like Seventeen, Vogue, Glamour and Ladies Home Journal so you couldn’t miss them if you tried. Down to sponsoring America’s Junior Miss contests, Breck Girls were the epitome of femininity in an age of hairdos that looked like Jiffy Pop on steroids and bundt cakes stacked on top of otherwise normal shaped heads.

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Categories: Bathroom, Hair, Health & Beauty, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day

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