This Is What Diet Recipes Were Like In The 1970s

Molded asparagus salad, anyone? Via Candyboots, where you can see these recipe cards with their original captions by Wendy McClure.

When writer Wendy McClure, of the site Candyboots, stumbled upon a set of 1970s diet cards, she couldn’t stop laughing.

Wendy McClure

Wendy explained: “When I found the card for the “Rosy Perfection Salad” I Iaughed so hard I started coughing. I waved the card at my mom, who just rolled her eyes. “Can I please have these?” I begged. “What do you want them for?” she asked. “To cook?” “No,” I said.”

Instead of cooking the recipes (and why would she? Why would anyone?), she made them into a book.

Wendy McClure / Via amazon.co.uk

Wendy said: “These cards mystify me. None of them have calorie 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.”

Here are 21 of the ‘best’ diet cards from her collection.

1. Molded Asparagus Salad.

Wendy McClure

“In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup tomato juice. Stir over low heat until gelatin dissolves. Stir in remaining tomato juice, vinegar, sweetener, salt and hot sauce. Chill until syrupy. Fold in asparagus.” Mmm, syrupy asparagus jelly.

2. Chilled Celery Log.

Wendy McClure

This recipe for a stuffed, chilled celery ‘log’ invites you to mash a cauliflower, stir in some chopped green pepper, insert the mixture into some celery and then refrigerate for 45 minutes before slicing. Delicious.

3. Frankfurter Spectacular.

Wendy McClure

Yes, this really is a mixture of frankfurters, pineapple, onion and carrot. To give the dish a particularly jaunty air, you’re encouraged to staple the frankfurters onto the pineapple core before serving.

4. Fluffy Mackerel Pudding.

Wendy McClure

Do you have dehydrated onion, mackerel, egg and a green pepper in your house? You do? Then you have everything you need to make this delightful pudding. Simply mash everything up, bake the fish-gloop in the oven and top with sliced egg.

5. Crown Roast of Frankfurters.

Wendy McClure

This meaty crown filled with shredded cabbage is definitely a dish fit for a king, as long as said king doesn’t have eyes or taste buds.

6. Broiled Appleburgers.

Wendy McClure

These burgers are made with actual beef (rather than mackerel, gelatin or frankfurters), but instead of frying them you’re asked to ‘broil them on a rack’ then serve them with apple because whoever made these cards hates people.

7. Peach Melba.

Wendy McClure

This dish looks almost normal (if you ignore the ceramic cheetah, that is), but when you check the recipe you find that the cherry-like objects are actually made from diet soda mixed with gelatin. Argh.

8. Stuffed Lettuce Wedges.

Wendy McClure

“What are they stuffed with?” I hear you cry. Why, cottage cheese, of course! The most disappointing of all the cheeses.

9. Spinach And Egg Mold.

Wendy McClure

These diet cards were clearly sponsored by a gelatin manufacturer: it’s in everything. This recipe combines gelatin, egg, cottage cheese and spinach to make a radish-topped horror jelly that will haunt your nightmares for years to come.

10. Jellied Tomato Refresher.

Wendy McClure

This crime scene of a meal is basically a jellified Bloody Mary without the vodka, decorated with bits of green pepper and served in brandy glasses. WHY?

11. Inspiration Soup.

Wendy McClure

The only thing inspiring about this watery tomato, beansprout, asparagus and green bean soup is the jaunty napkins. The candles are quite nice too.

12. Cucumber ‘Cream’ Salad.

Wendy McClure

Bet you can’t guess what the ‘cream’ is in this dish. No, it’s not that: don’t be disgusting. It’s cottage cheese, of course! Everything is cottage cheese!

13. Perfect Pizza Lunch.

Wendy McClure

There is nothing perfect about this. Nothing at all.

14. Frozen Cheese Salad.

Wendy McClure

“So you want me to mix cottage cheese with blue cheese, freeze it and then serve with brocolli?” “Yes.” “Can I at least cook the brocolli?” “No.”

15. Liver Pâté En Masque.

Wendy McClure

This mixture of liver, gelatin and green beans with a delicious grey ‘glaze’ is the colour of sadness.

16. Fish With “Butter” Sauce.

Wendy McClure

The sauce in this dish is made from something called ‘diet margarine’. Nope.

17. Snacks On A Stick.

Wendy McClure

What was that? You thought this was chocolate ice cream? Don’t be silly. These ‘sticksnacks’ are actually made from coffee mixed with- you guessed it- gelatin.

18. Fruit And Cheese Mold.

Wendy McClure

This recipe combines cottage cheese with orange flavoured diet soda and - of course- gelatin to create this monstrous, lettuce fringed ring. Kill it with fire.

19. Lettuce Potage.

Wendy McClure

Spoiler alert: this is just hot, blended lettuce.

20. Fish “Tacos”.

Wendy McClure

Because all the very finest Mexican food is made from shredded cabbage, bits of cod and a piece of wholemeal toast.

21. Madrilène-Cheese Salad.

Wendy McClure

This recipe somehow manages to combine all of the misery of the previous 20 into one dish. The red stuff is jellied tomato juice and the white stuff is- of course- cottage cheese. It’s served with lettuce, raw brocolli and a side order of tea towels.

After a while, Wendy’s fans started to recreate some of the recipes at home. Here’s the Chilled Celery Log:

TheKarenD / Via Flickr: karen_d

The canoeist really adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the dish.

Molded Asparagus Salad:

Miranda / Via Flickr: mirandala

Jesus would not have approved of this.

Fluffy Mackerel Pudding:

Miranda / Via Flickr: mirandala

The horrified expression on that fish’s face really does say it all.

Crown Roast of Frankfurters.

Andrew Huff / Via Flickr: deadhorse

Last but by no means least, we have the pièce de résistance of these mind-bending recipe cards: the Crown Roast. Just look at the way it glistens in the light. Yum.

Via Candyboots.

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Hilary Mitchell is the Scotland editor and is based in Edinburgh.
 
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