Cookbooks

Vintage Cookbook | The Pillsbury Convenience Cookbook – 1960s

I have to admit that, like a lot of people, I’m drawn to color. Perhaps that’s why I have so many 1960s era cookbooks. The color palette during that time period is just so bright and cheery. And those stylized fonts and illustrations! You probably know the ones I’m talking about, those kaleidoscope pinwheels and flowers and stuff.

the largely orange-yellow cover of the Pillsbury Convenience Cookbook, featuring a salad and dough covered meatloaf
Cover of the Pillsbury Convenience Cookbook

The Pillsbury’s Convenience Cookbook is no exception to that, though for the life of me I can’t determine (definitively) when in the sixties this thing was published. I’m somewhat used to not finding identifying numbers on old cookbooks, but to not have a listed publication date at all? It’s a little weird. There are a few clues to help figure this out at least: the previously mentioned stylizing and color palette and the ad in the back for the 1963 Pillsbury Family Cookbook. There’s also the front page letter from Anne Pillsbury, (the fictitious pillsbury representative à la Betty Crocker, explaining ‘poppin’ fresh’ canned dough (with absolutely no mention of Poppin Fresh, i.e. the Pillsbury Doughboy).

 a letter from Ann Pillsbury featuring tips on using refrigerated dough
picture of Anne Pillsbury Letter

The low price tag is a pretty good clue too… 69 cents.

I estimate this booklet was published sometime around 1966, but honestly I think I spent way too much time trying to figure this out. I probably would have saved a lot of time and mental energy if I had found this website, Frank Daniels Guide to Pillsbury Cookbooks, before going through all that effort. It hasn’t been updated in a while, but I recommend taking a gander, as there’s some interesting information.

I still have no idea what the C.C.C. means, listed under the price. If anyone knows please let me know, as it’s been driving me crazy since I picked this cookbook up.

a closeup of the cookbook cover, specifically of the mysterious C.C.C. listed under the 69 cents price tag
C.C.C. under 69 cents

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, a little bit more about this particular cookbook. As I previously stated, this thing is bright and colorful, though the yellow tone of the cover make it look, initially, a little bit more 1970s.

You really get the full effect of the 1960s color schemes when you open it up. Just a page or two in and you start getting the pictures in their super-saturated glory.

breakfast foods, including scrambled eggs on biscuits, ham, and a cup of fruit salad, along with a cup of coffee

It doesn’t come out in every photo or illustration, but every now and then there’s a bright flash of hot pink or lime green, or both.

A bowl and cups of of green punch, with white floating on top, and a ring of bread with a bowl of cheese dip in the center.
Punch and Dip
Bright orange, pink, and green pages with recipes for Crunchy Peanut brownie squares and Tangy Lime Punch
High School Saturday Night section

Recipe-wise, it’s actually pretty standard, although the whole cookbook really feels like a giant ad for those ‘poppin fresh’ products mentioned in the Anne Pillsbury letter. None of them look overly complicated, and many of them are the complete opposite- so easy you could really let kids do most of it (such as the many ‘take a canned biscuit and roll it in something’ recipes). Overall, most of them sound fairly innocuous too, flavor-wise; stuff like bacon-cheese omelet and Almond Coffee Cake.

a yellow page with flower illustrations in the corner. Under a plate of coffee cake is a recipe for bacon-cheese omelet
Bacon-Cheese Omelet

There are also, however, recipes like Seafood Imperial (which is essentially canned seafood and condensed soup topped with biscuits), and Avocado and Tomato Aspic.

A silver, biscuit topped dish, set on a white tablecloth covered table.
Seafood Imperial

But then, would it really feel like a 1960s cookbook without some of those mid-century recipe trends?

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