In Truman's day, this was tofurkey for a meatless Thanksgiving

Full view in larger size here. If by "glamorous" you mean "explosive diarrhea," then, sure. A vintage ad nightmare scanned and Flickr'd by bluwmongoose, during an era when meat was comparatively expensive, and rationed. As a photo commenter says:

Holiday", "vegetable" and "loaf" are three words that don't belong together - just like "pedophile", "kindergarten" and "nudist", or "mom", "masturbating" and "surprise."


      1. Kind of surprising, given that XJ recently wrote an excellent post on juicing. [P.S. Maybe a bad past experience with mystery veggie loaf?]

    1. My thoughts too. The only positive way I can read the odd part about explosive diarrhea is to guess that the art of making veggie loaf wasn’t very advanced yet back then?

  1. I doubt very much that this was meant as a main course for vegetarians (who were far less common back in the day).  It looks like a side dish. I also don’t see why it is particularly weird. Don’t most people serve vegetable sides (like green bean and mushroom soup casseroles) with their turkey?

    1.  I think it was more likely a substitute main dish for when meat was inconveniently rationed – I agree that few grocers back then would really cater to veggies otherwise.

      1. The year is not given in this scan, though the scanner’s reference to it being Truman-era shows that it has to be a post-WWII Thanksgiving ad, published well after food rationing had ended (plus products marketed to meet rationing requirements invariably boasted of such, a patriotic marketing angle).  And in any event, turkey was not rationed (or was less rationed) during WWII.  As the publication Wartime Cookery helpfully explained:

        HAVE POULTRY FREQUENTLY – Poultry contains practically the same nourishment as meat.  It is likely to be plentiful, it has always been raised by women and is not easily shipped… Make soup stock from poultry feet or carcass of roast fowl.  Combine poultry meat with vegetables, rice, hominy or noodles in scalloped dishes and stews.


        Most likely, this was simply a product aimed at people who consumed processed vegetables in post-war America, for all the reasons people consume them today, just representing a smaller (but still lucrative) portion of the overall population. But probably rationing had nothing to do with it.

    2.  This is GROSS! It’s a bunch of vegetables ground up and mushed into a loaf! Not something totally reasonable, normal, and not-disgusting-at-all like a decapitated bird with breadcrumbs shoved up its asshole, or the ground-up flesh of a cow or pig shoved into its intestines…

  2. The yellowish cast to the photo makes it look unappealing, but the dish itself seems fine.  Some sort of presumably stuffing-based vegetable loaf, mashed potatoes, radish rosettes, broccoli.  These would be on many Thanksgiving tables.  Merging them onto a single platter just leaves more table space for other goodies.

    1. Actually, that loaded of a platter of food makes it impossible to pass, so all plates must go to the designated server, unless the table is small enough that it can be the centerpiece.

    1.  This is America, son! Unless your lower intestine is 50% back-up with undigested meat matter, you are considered to have digestive and dietary problems. Vegetables are the devil’s food!

  3. As a vegan, I’d love to have the recipe.  I’d also love to have an A&P anywhere around, I haven’t really seen one since the ’80s.  Haters gonna hate, I guess.

    1. There aren’t many A&P’s around today, although at one point they were America’s largest retailer of any kind and there were serious considerations of breaking them up to prevent a food monopoly. But they managed to more or less destroy themselves through bad management. Levinson’s “The Great A&P” is fascinating reading and makes you wonder if current giants such as Wal-Mart will similarly implode at some point.

      1. Oh, snap.  7th Day Adventist style, too?  I used to make “Salisbury steak” with Worthington cutlets back in the day.

    2.  There are some good recipes on-line, though I (also a vegan) will typically splurge on a Field Roast from Whole Foods, because they are AMAZINGLY GOOD and blow that Tofurkey nonsense out of the water.

  4. “If by “glamorous” you mean “explosive diarrhea,” then, sure.”

    Well, that’s my reaction to traditional Thanksgiving dinners, and similar holiday dinners.

    1. At our dinner, the explosive diarrhea will be when my uncle starts ranting about how the country is becoming socialist.

        1. When asked this past political season where I fit in the spectrum, I’d answer “Warren Buffett Socialist”.  I could tell immediately who was a staunch Fox listener….they’d hear the “S” word and it was like a dog whistle….meanwhile, people who listened to or read actual news sources knew what I was talking about.  A lot more subtle than your suggested t-shirt, but it had the same effect.

      1. In all fairness it does kinda come across that way – I assumed that’s not what you were getting at (you seem far too kind, and far too liberal for those shenanigans), but at the same time I’m still missing the subtext.

  5. I think it’s just the illustration that makes it look all explosive-y and diarrhea-y. Spiced right, this could be good. You could just take a plate with you and just eat it on the toilet. … i kid i kid.

  6. Srsly, what gives Xeni? I can’t imagine this might cause more gastrointestinal distress than eating a lot of fatty meat and sweets. Doesn’t look any worse than your average meatloaf… 

    1. Speaking from a friend’s experience (not my own, thankfully), if you eat a lot of fatty meat and dairy a single vegan meal can have the effect of turning your lower intestine into Niagara Falls. 

      1. I’m guessing your guts flora adapts to your diet. I’ve been a vegi from day 0 so have a feeling that eating meat would cause my body to report me to the police for cruel and unusual punishment.

        1. Actually, once you’ve been veg*n for a few years (I forget the exact time period), you stop producing the enzymes that help humans digest meat, so at that point you would still experience the same discomfort as someone who was born and raised that way.  Even hidden chicken stock in a dish marked “vegetarian” will let you know pretty quickly that you’ve been lied to.

          Those enzymes take a long time to develop in babies, BTW.  There’s an order to introducing foods, and meat is pretty much last on the list.  It’s not easy on human systems.

      2. If you’re used to having minimal fiber in your diet, and then dump more roughage in one sitting (ahem) than you’re used to having all week, then yeah, probably. That’s an effect that you’ll appreciate much, much more when you’re older, though–trust me.

  7. Doesn’t look like a bad idea to me. The illustration isn’t great, but I can see the real thing being good (and I loves me some turkey, too).

  8. I am going to be eating a delicious vegan Thanksgiving dinner. It’s hilarious that some of you think I hate vegans. I just hate “vegetable loaf” of indeterminate origin.

      1.  Not the only one who’s kind of clueless, that is.

        Mocking oddly-colored photos of lost 50s recipes is a time-honoured online form of merriment, whether the thing has animal products in it or not. It’s all about the weird pukey tones, either from the colour technology of the time or the way the photo has aged or deteriorated.
        This weird “they’re attacking vegetarians” response is just bizarre.

        1. wow.  i straight-up admitted i didn’t get the joke, and you pile on by calling me clueless… i haven’t a clue why my polite post rendered such a response.

          to amend my previous message:
          hey, (mostly) everybody, better luck next year!

    1. I’m really curious about the recipe for this vegetable loaf. I make a lentil loaf for the holidays that is probably pretty similar. Mine is not vegan (it includes eggs and cheese) but it could probably be made vegan with a few tweaks.

    2.  OK, I can see where you’re coming from, then. I think that they’re holding back the recipe from the ad just so that they can get you on their mailing list.

    3. My children (vegetarian since conception) don’t understand meat analogs at all.  They don’t get why people feel the need to have something that looks and chews like meat on a plate, because of course it hasn’t been the centerpiece of their meals.  Veg loafs were what we did in the 1960s and 70s when there really wasn’t a lot of options out there.  But now….who needs them?

      One time many years ago I went on a first date with someone who held the prevailing belief of the time that vegetarians eat nothing but salad — one or two stages after the veg loaf era — so he wanted to be polite and ordered a salad for dinner….boy was he surprised when I ordered a hot cooked meal.  Why would I eat a raw salad in the middle of winter in Chicago when I could have something that’s been roasting or cooking on the stove for hours?

      Stereotypes die hard.

      1. If you’re vegan but you seek out convincing imitations of meat, you’re really just a cryptocarnivoire.

      2.  Well, “loaf” isn’t really an inherent meat shape, either, so I don’t see veggie loaf as a meat analog at all. Just an interesting dish one can make with vegetables. I remember sometimes my meat-eating friends would rib me for eating veggie burgers, suggesting that it meant I really wanted to be eating meat. As if meat comes out of cows in patty form! Why is it more inherent to grind up meat and compress it into a disk than it is to grind up beans and vegetables? The short answer is, it isn’t. ‘Loaf’ is a convenient shape for food you intend to slice up and dish out. ‘Patty’ is a convenient shape for food you want to eat as a sandwich. Neither one lends itself especially to meat, at all
        It would be like saying meatloaf is a “bread analog” because it is in a loaf shape…

  9. What’s weird about that? I’ve attended many a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner featuring vegetable loaf. Well made, it’s great. The presentation is fussy, but the ingredients look fine.  

  10. Holiday”, “vegetable” and “loaf” are three words that don’t belong together – just like “pedophile”, “kindergarten” and “nudist”, or “mom”, “masturbating” and “surprise.”

    But what about:

    “Mom practically pinched a loaf when she saw the pedophile masturbating near the kindergarten playground, but she sure gave him a surprise: she spent her holiday in special forces learning how to neutralize an enemy, even if you have no weapons and are a nudist.  The guy’s pretty much a vegetable now.”

    1.  I’m flabbergasted that not only is that a thing but that people apparently think it’s delicious. This made me LOL, though.

  11. I tried a couple of war and depression era recipes and found them very good. One was for a nut loaf, during meat rationing. The other was a cake made without egg, milk, or flour. 

    I was really really really happy with the cake. And the nut loaf was surprisingly tasty, and actually much nicer for you than ground meat.

    I’m not sure why these kinds of recipes seem to get the cold shoulder when (to me) they are far better than the processed pretend-meat substitute foods.

    Just because it’s not associated with the luxury of eating meat, doesn’t always mean the dish won’t taste really good!

    1. Some of the best vegan baking recipes are from that era. A friend of mine had an amazing chocolate vegan cake recipe from the thirties that still holds up beautifully today. Wasn’t a dietary trend then, but an economic necessity and wartime obligation. 

  12. You know, now that I look at the photo again, the broccoli is remarkably dark green.  When I think back to how broccoli was usually cooked in my childhood, the green was always so cooked away the vegetable would appear practically gray.

  13. Enough to make a conscientious vegetarian turn to veal.
    Betcha the ad wasn’t made by Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

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