The 1950s were all about streamlined living and modern conveniences. These trends quickly carried over into the kitchen. Cake mixes, fast food and product tie-ins changed baking by placing an emphasis on the quick, the simple and the unusual. From cakes that incorporate soft drinks in the recipe to baked chicken coated in breakfast cereal, 1950s baking often involved the creative use of prepared foods and popular brand names. Baking in the 1950s was fast, easy and a even little bit kitschy.
A Culture of Convenience
Societal changes in the 1950s had an impact on baking. Television was new and quickly became the focal point in the homes that had this new invention. TV dinners were introduced in 1954. This shift from formal dining to impromptu dinners in front of the television naturally transferred to how food was prepared. Baking trends followed suit with an increased demand for simple recipes and less time spent in the kitchen.
In the Mix
The cake mix was first introduced in 1952. No longer did housewives have to fool with tedious sifting and measuring. Adding water, eggs and oil to a simple mix made cake baking fast and easy. Other mixes followed, including frosting mixes and mixes for drop muffins and pie crust. These innovations quickly began to enjoy a popularity with consumers that continues today.
Candy Bars, Crackers and Cola
Product tie-ins became an effective way to get consumers to buy prepared food products. Companies would frequently offer free recipes that incorporated their product as a way to boost sales. Entertaining with a 1950s theme could include baked goods such as mock pecan pie using crushed crackers, egg whites, white sugar and pecans. Cola cake used a chocolate cake mix and replaced the oil and water with cola.
Entertaining in the 1950s often included elegant-sounding baked goods that were surprisingly easy to prepare. Perhaps as a bit of a backlash to cake mixes and simplified baking, recipes sometimes paid homage to exotic locations. One example, baked Alaska, involves layering ice cream on a flat cake and freezing it. Whipped egg whites mixed with sugar and vanilla serve as a topping.
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