Secret to a Happy Marriage in the 50’s – The Mixmaster

All you needed in the fifties was The Mixmaster and all your marital problems go by the wayside. So it would seem. She lived happily ever after, because she had The Sunbeam Mixmaster. If only I’d known that!

I’ve been dwelling on Blog Stats this week. I’ve also looked at the “Freshly Pressed” blogs, which are picked by WordPress to appear on their home page. Once your blog is selected, it will receive greater amounts of traffic by virtue of it being there. To have this great honor bestowed upon my blog would be a gift from the BlogGod.

This week, one of the Freshly Pressed blogs was Life in the Boomer Lane, A Guide to Life After 50. It’s a very funny blog. Click here to view.

It listed the recommendations in the following categories from AARP and then added more:

  • What Not to Wear
  • Things Never to Do
  • Words to Ax
  • What to Do at Least Once

It is very funny, and very true. But it started me thinking about my Boomer life and, I think I might have been unloading the dishwasher when it occurred to me how very different kitchens are today, than they were in, say, 1956 when I was, well younger.

We had a typical kitchen back then, broken up by four doors and two windows.

The first wall had the two windows and there was a sink between them, one of those white things that hung on the wall with the plumbing showing underneath. The sink part always had one of those three-cornered garbage collector things sitting in the corner, and there was a drainboard next to it.

The second wall was without either doors or windows and along that wall were floor to ceiling cupboards.

The third wall was for the refrigerator. I guess back then, it was better than an “icebox” where you had to buy ice, but not much. Remember those tiny little freezers and how they got all coated up with that hard white ice stuff and you have to “defrost” it every week? And that always had to be scheduled before you went shopping for groceries.

And the fourth wall was for the stove, one of those monstrosities with the double ovens and that was all that fit on that wall.

Forget your stone countertops. As I remember it, there was only the Formica kitchen table to use as a work area.

And also forget small appliances. There was a toaster, a pancake griddle and The Sunbeam Mixmaster! Here it is, in all its high tech splendor.

And here it is again, but wait! How’d she get those cool green bowls? Our bowls were white. Everything was white in those days.

I loved the Mixmaster. Many cakes were beat up in that thing, and frosting, and cookie dough, with beaters to fight over to lick. That was the good part of food in the 1950’s. The desserts were great.

But the rest of the food wasn’t. An example of what wasn’t so great back then:

  • Pear salad – This was a summer substitute for a vegetable. It consisted of one half canned pear, sitting on one piece of iceberg lettuce, topped with a maraschino cherry. (Do you really want to think about maraschino cherries and how they get to be that color? I didn’t think so.)
  • Lime jello with shredded carrots – Whoever thought up this combination? Does anyone even eat jello anymore? Although you never really “ate” it, it was more like you sucked it into your esophagus. Sometimes it would have pineapple added. That was good. Sometimes it would have walnuts added. That was bad. Something about that crunch and slippery jello didn’t sit right with me. Sometimes it would have a dollop of mayonnaise on it. Blechh. And, we were one of those “Miracle Whip” families. That stuff is just gross.
  • Fruit cocktail – In a pinch, instead of the above two delicacies, this canned concoction was substituted. Do they still sell this? The stuff where every single fruit looks and tastes the same?
  • Sweet potatoes with marshmallows – This was a special treat, at Thanksgiving usually. Some sort of candied mushed up sweet potatoes, whipped up (in The Mixmaster) with butter and brown sugar and topped with those smaller sized marshmallows, the kind that got stale after twenty minutes. And sometimes, it would appear with those colored minis. What fun! Pink and blue and yellow things on top! But the color combination, the pastel with earthy orangey, was visually upsetting.
  • Chipped beef on toast – This is an abomination. A terrible thing to do to children. This is what you got when your parents were going out to dinner but still had to feed you.
  • Creamed chicken on biscuits – This was where a few cans of Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup mixed with milk are placed in the big yellow bowl (remember those nesting bowls, the largest was yellow, then green, then red, then blue but the last two might have been reversed). The biscuits were placed on top of the soup and baked in the oven. The biscuits were always soggy, because they sat in that soup too long.
  • Goulash – This was a combination of four things, hamburger, ½ teaspoon diced onions cut up until they liquefied, tomato sauce, elbow macaroni. There might have been a little salt and pepper in there too. Baked in the big yellow bowl.
  • Chef Boyardee Pizza – This was a pizza “kit”. It consisted of some flour stuff that was mixed with water and formed dough, which you pressed onto a cookie sheet. Pour the Chef’s pizza sauce on and top with the Chef’s parmesan cheese. Talk about a boring pizza. But back then it was delicious. We weren’t creative enough to imagine anything else on it.

There’s more, but these stand out in my memory. Got any cool fifties recipes to share?

15 thoughts on “Secret to a Happy Marriage in the 50’s – The Mixmaster

  1. Lynn…..glad to see you are busy with your research!!! The Mixmaster…..who knew??? I do remember that monster, and yes, we had white bowls. My mom was afraid of electrical appliances and was happy when I mastered the skill of using it!!!

    Being of ethnic background…..those dishes were considered “American Food”, which we never had. But I enjoyed them on the school lunch menu!!! I remember hot summer nights sitting on the front porch with a special treat…..half a cantalope scooped out with a large portion of vanilla ice cream inside….talk about indigestion!!!

    Our old kitchen had a counter around the sink, very modern…..covered with linolium to match the floor…..and I remember the coats of wax that took to shine!!

    Tell that blog fairy to visit me………….it was great to seel you……ttyl…..cleo

    • Cleo, we weren’t allowed to touch The Mixmaster! But the picture does bring back memories because that’s exactly what ours looked like. We didn’t worry about carbs in those days. And yes, linoleum. I think we did have a bit of counter space along that one wall but not around the sink. And also one of those huge heat registers underneath one of the windows.

      Those were good days. I visited your blog, it’s beautiful, and you’ve been at it since 2008. I just started this January.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Did your mother share her recipes with mine? I think we had every one of those meals and I remember my father saying he’d never eat the chipped beef on toast since it was something they had to eat while he was in the service in WWII. He had a different name for it (SOS). Great blog Lynn.

    • Cathy, so did I forget any meals? I guess there were a few that were not memorable (or else I wanted to forget). Cubed “steak”. That’s one I forgot. That was one of my personal un-favorites..

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. I too remember these foods also. But my mother also cooked things like beef tongue in a pressure cooker that would sometimes almost explode and let off all this hot steam. I actually like chipped beef on toast and still buy and eat the frozen variety by Stauffers! Yes, those were the good old days but actually we probably did eat healthier with not so many additives and junk food.

    • Mary, wow. My mother was not that adventurous. Hence the reference to liquified onions. If there was one thing she taught me well, it was prejudice against onions. And it’s true, we ate food without labels. Back then you didn’t have to worry what you were eating.

  4. I remember. Our kitchen was the same. And between two windows was a high shelf with an old AM radio. We loved listening in the morning during breakfast, especially waiting for a snow day.

  5. Lynn, I remember all the foods you mentioned especially the lime jello salad with the carrots and the dollop of Miracle Whip which I promptly removed. Never knew about Mayo until some of my cultured friends introduced me to it in my thirties. Now I can’t stand the taste of it, but my daughter originally brought up on Miracle Whip by me, can’t stand the taste of Mayo either. Thus when I make salads that require Mayo, I always set aside a plain salad for her so she add her Miracle Whip.

    Your blog brings back so many good memories of a wonderful Mother who was dedicated to her family.

    • Mary Kay, I was the rare convert from Miracle Whip to Mayo. It is either one or the other (kinda like boxers or briefs?). Usually, what you start out with you end up with.

      I know there were more recipes that I’ve forgotten, the Swiss Steak and the Cubed Steak (equally gross creations from a really tough cut of beef) to name just two.

      Things have changed somewhat since then. Like Mary said, back then we didn’t have fast food and food with ingredients that we couldn’t pronounce.


  6. Hi Lynn: My aunt, who lived next door, had the famed mix master, which my Mom borrowed on occasion. It was always used at Christmas time for the cookies and fruit cake. My aunt also had a Hamilton Beach milk shake maker, which we thought was the best thing since sliced bread! My cousin, Laurie (who you met at the Pi Nu weekend) and I used to mix up all kinds of concoctions in that. And faithfully every Friday night we would make a Chef Boy-ar-dee pizza and think it tasted fabulous. John loves creamed chip beef on toast (aka SOS), but my Dad never could eat it after having it for breakfast while in the Navy, with peas no less! Our daughter Meg hates SOS, along with cube steak and tuna noodle casserole, which was staple in Catholic families of the 50’s, along with fish sticks and mac and cheese. Eating out was a real treat and usually coincided with some big occasion, like a birthday or holiday. Now we have Wegman’s to fulfill our every need!


    • Jackie, oh those Friday meals growing up. My worst were fresh Oyster stew, always gave the oysters to my father who loved them and poured half a box of oyster crackers in the broth just to get it down. The other one I hated was canned salmon in a loaf, which always brings to mind canned spam and scalloped potatoes or toasted spam sandwiches. The days I loved were birthdays when the celebrant could request what they wanted for dinner.

      • Wow, forgot about fish sticks. Luckily I didn’t have to deal with oyster stew, don’t think I would have liked it. To this day, I have never had an oyster. The first man to eat one must have been the bravest guy in the world. Those things look nasty.

        Spam and canned salmon! Wow. Who could forget that?

        Thanks, Jackie and Mary Kay!

  7. What fun reading your Blog Lynnette and the nostalgic responses. I don’t remember what kind of mixer my Mother had, but I know it was always whirring away. Living on a farm, it seems like all my Mother did was cook, and all we did was eat! We had very few “shortcut” meals (my Father wouldn’t have liked that.) Most meals were an extravaganza. I would have loved to have had SOS once in awhile, or mac n’cheese. And the only kind of sandwiches we ever ate were tunafish, and that was only when we went on a picnic! Miracle Whip reigned supreme in our house too–discovered Mayo at my first husband’s home–and have used only Mayo every since. (Of course now we buy Canola Mayo–the most recent being Eggless and Vegan to boot!) I also never had a pure hamburger until I moved to Rochester. My Mother’s were basically meatloaf in a pattie. All that being said, however, I would love to eat some of my Mother’s fabulous meals again.

    • Thanks, Nancy! Who would have guessed, that someone would actually WANT SOS! It got soggy, no matter how fast you ate it. Actually, it was pretty gross. But yeah, I guess I wouldn’t have liked having each meal be an extravaganza either. Too much scheduling, sounds like your mother’s life centered around meal planning and preparation.

      Haven’t tried those alternative mayos. And you’re right, it seemed hamburgers always had to have stuff in them. Bread crumbs and egg and other stuff. Really they are better “just plain”.

      Thanks for the comment.

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