Save time and money with a refrigerator!

The Silent Hostess Treasure Book coverThe “Silent Hostess” Treasure Book
General Electric

I love finding these old cookbooks. This particular example is a publication from General Electric touting the exciting “new” features in the refrigerator. Best part are the color pictures featuring….wait for it: Surprise Loaf. (4th picture below) The aptly named Surprise Loaf contains raw cabbage, mayo, cream cheese, pimento and a few other ingredients. I believe the surprise comes from the ability to keep from throwing up after consuming.

Not only recipes, but this little cookbook offers up nutrition advice, hostessing tips, and a bit of food safety. There are even a few paragraphs devoted to the problems of hostessing when you don’t have a maid.

Cookbooks are an exciting subject for study, and I want to encourage everyone to visit Mid-Century Menu and Retro Recipe. These brave folks are taking one for the team by actually cooking and tasting many these culinary delights. For those looking for serious research and archive, hop on over to Michigan State University’s special collection on Cookery and Food, and check out Feeding America, which has highlights from this collection. The food nerd in you will love this!



GE Refrigerator

Floating Islands merangue

Chocolate surprise cake

tomato aspic

ham mousse

pineapple sherbet

leftover vegetable casserole


  1. Meringue glace with chocolate ice cream? Good thing there is a caption, I would NEVER has guessed that was a dessert. There has be a better presentation for that.

  2. I would also suggest the Twitter feed “70’s Dinner Party” ( @70s_party ) for examples of nightmares from the Disco Era.

  3. They really liked “surprise” foods a lot; there is also a surprise cocktail on the menu.
    The surprise loaf, though, sounds just like a form of coleslaw, not too gruesome.
    I love to see the refrigerator touted as a high-tech gadget; we take it so much for granted now.
    One thing I will never understand: the mid-20th-century fascination with aspics and gelatine. Why everyone thought covering food with slime was classy (or tasty), I’ll never know!

  4. “A Square Meal” by Jane Ziegelman and Andrew Coe was published last month. It is about Depression-era cookery in Mariecan homes. (BTW, I hope the GE cookbook was not in a library collection (unless an archive).)

  5. I was at a dinner party last night, and we were talking about childhood memories. I mentioned that I remembered the excitement in our house when my folks bought a refrigerator to replace the icebox. The thrills of forgetting to empty the drip pan, the excitement of the iceman bringing blocks of ice in, the illicit thrill of sneaking shards of ice from the iceman’s truck (a big no-no at our house).

  6. Things would be more silent if she’d bought a gas refrigerator instead – and no moving parts to wear!

    1. A friend of mine has a great story about her dad getting her mom a gas (gasoline, not propane) wringer/washer. Dad was a shiftless alcoholic, mom was overworked and despondent about their situation.

      The dad was trying to make an apologetic gesture. So, he rolled the thing into the kitchen, figuring he’d surprise his wife by doing laundry. Fired it up, and it filled the kitchen with a cloud of exhaust while roaring away like a lawnmower. Mom spent all day scrubbing soot off the walls.

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