Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Food Circus

I was asleep, and I heard a noise. It sounded like music. It was coming from the refrigerator. I got up and opened the refrigerator door.

I didn’t believe my eyes! It was a food circus! The cheese was on a merry-go-round, the milk was swallowing fire, and the grapes were on a roller coaster!

All the food was having fun, but suddenly the food went back to its spot and the rides were gone. So I went back to bed.

In the morning I remembered about what I has seen. I went and looked in the refrigerator, but the rides were all gone. The End.

This c. 1979 story marked my first foray into the food with eyes genre of literature. It would probably have been better titled as “The Food Carnival” since there were amusement rides, as well as sideshow acts like fire eating. Although it was somewhat lacking in terms of plot and character development, it did earn me the following Richard Scarry sticker featuring Huckle cat and Lowly worm:

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Mushrooms in your Menu

This 1956 cookbooklet from BinB Mushrooms suggests dozens of ways to incorporate more mushrooms in your diet with the help of their special butter-broiled spokesmushroom.

The front of the pamphlet shows their mushroom chef following a recipe in this very cookbook, no doubt utilizing his own savory juices (I have always admired this artistic device since first seeing a Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen comic book with a cover featuring Superman -or was it Jimmy?-sitting in a barber chair reading the same comic book ad infinitum).

The first page shows Mr. Mushroom attending a costume party dressed as Mr. Peanut, arm-in-arm with Miss Gourmet Magazine (I believe this is Miss Fluffy Rice underneath the costume).

Only one of the 24 pages of recipes shows our mushroom character. Here he is in stylized form lifting two shrimp barbells. Note the recipe on the left for Sweetbreads and Ham. That's what I typically serve my guests for luncheon.

And one last look at our BinB Mushroom friend.

This last picture is a bit disconcerting as we have a clear view of his stem hole. Shocking.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Meet the Veggies

Blog reader Ellen was kind enough to share photos of two treasured food with eyes friends she won at a fair back in the 80s. Thank you, Ellen!! Here we have Nurse Judy Mango:

Note that she resembles a Dakin Dream Pet-style plush. Too bad they never had a Dream Food line…

Next is rocker Bruce Stringbean!

Some research has revealed that The Bean is part of a collection called The Veggies (Each One Is A Bushel Of Fun!) made in 1985. In fact, I discovered that a character in my own collection (bequeathed to me by Curly Wurly) is a member of the same series. Here is Tony Scallione (or, as I had alternately referred to him, Rapscallion or the Italian Scallion):

And Tony in his original packaging:

Bruce Stringbean in his original patriotic box:

Other characters in the series include Cornelia Husk:

Sheriff Damon Onion:

Zuccarina ballerina:

Juice the athletic orange:

And Pepperphant the elephant:

The back of the box explains the story of Veggie Village where fruits and vegetables come alive. Other village residents include Ricky Vacado and Lemon Ice. Perhaps the Del Monte Yumkins, Nestle Morsel Family, and Hallmark Crazy Crop gang would even vacation in Veggie Village back in the 80s?

Monday, July 2, 2007

Vegetable Magnetism

The 1970s and 80s were a dark time in the history of handicrafts. The intricate crochet and embroidery of the past were cast aside in favor of knitted toilet paper roll covers, garish afghans, and monstrous macramé creations. I myself turned out dozens of latch-hook rugs and even a plastic canvas needlepoint tissue box cover. The only bright spot was the emergence of a previously underutilized artistic medium: pantyhose. The advent of sheer nylon was a boon to stocking-wearers, of course, but its use in crafts is not as well appreciated. When stuffed, its sheerness and strength allow it to be sewn into expressive features belonging to, what else, food with eyes!

A crafty aunt began creating stuffed pantyhose food with eyes magnets. Soon a fried egg, apple, and ice cream cone “soft sculptures” graced our fridge. I even made one myself: a carrot with an unfortunately large forehead that always made me think of Frankenstein’s monster in carrot-form. Some of the original magnets can be seen below:

Here is a close-up of a pumpkin magnet, another c. 1982 original:

While very cute, it doesn’t have the impact of the others, as it’s common for pumpkins to have facial features.

Recently, through the miracle of eBay, I was able to obtain the instruction booklet “Fruity & Vegie Refrigerator Magnets” by Dumplin’ Designs (1982).

Other magnet designs include an orange, pear, strawberry, grapes, cherries, tomato, green pepper, corn, peas, cauliflower, and a featureless sack of potatoes. While the instructions are easy to follow, the modern-day crafter may encounter one roadblock: finding yellow, orange, red, purple, and green pantyhose. In the 80s this was not an issue; I fondly remember my rainbow-hued knee-high stocking collection. The prescient author, seemingly knowing that a drabber future would be in store, also suggests dyeing white nurses’ stockings to the desired color. Although forgotten for more than 20 years, perhaps these delightful characters will return once more to enliven the stainless steel kitchens of the 21st century.