Friday, August 27, 2010

My Look Back: 1939 (and some of 1941)

1939 was a great year for movies (Gone with the Wind, The Women, Ninotchka, The Wizard of Oz, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington), and for many other things. Here's a personal look back at some of them and a couple photographs I came across that caught my eye. 1939 was the year that:

This photograph is an advertisement for Lady Borden Ice Cream. Although it's not mentioned it looks like the flavor is chocolate. In the small box it boasts of being "fresh as it's frozen" and ready to "dip out". The container style hasn't changed much from what we can find today in grocery stores and I really like the cow family they have depicted at the top. I had no idea that the Borden company actually no longer exists, although some of it's products (mostly dairy) are still being sold under a subsidiary owned by Grupo Lala. The mascot that is used on many of the Borden products is Elsie the Cow. I remember my mom using Borden Condensed Milk and to this day she refers to it as "the one with the cow". Elsie was developed in the 1930's as a symbol of the "perfect dairy product". In the 1940's she was just as famous as some celebrities, with the help of a voice over by actress Hope Emerson. Elsie's husband, Elmer the Bull, is prominently featured as the mascot for Elmer's Glue (which was originally manufactured by Borden, although it was developed by Georgia Tech Chemistry graduate, Ashworth Stull). Elsie was a real cow from Connecticut that Borden purchased to use as their mascot (although originally her name was "You'll do Lobelia").

Here is Elsie at the Canadian National Exhibition circa 1941. She actually does look like the illustrated version (sans the apron). The daisies are emblematic of the Borden brand as well. You can also see a framed picture of what looks to be Elsie's hubby, Elmer, in the background (with decorated uniform of course). Elsie actually starred in the movie Little Men, (RKO Radio Pictures, 1940) which features Jo March from Little Women running the Plumfield School for poor boys. Elsie was a Jersey cow and I just ask myself, how can you resist those big brown eyes?

Lady Borden Ice Cream Advertisement, 1939

(Photograph: Photographer Unknown; LIFE Photo Archive)

Elsie the Cow with onlookers at the Canadian National Exhibition, circa 1941

(Photograph: Gordon W. Powley; Archives of Ontario)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Give Me a Corny Bow-Wow

Greenbriar Valley Fair, Lewisburg, West Virginia August 1938
Photograph: Alfred Eisenstaedt; LIFE Photo Archive)

As summer time rolls on I found myself craving that carnival food staple, the corn dog. Corn dog history is actually kind of ambiguous, but one thing is for sure, the corn dog is just one of the many food items that people are coating and frying up these days at carnivals and fairs across the country. From pickles to Twinkies, to even deep-fried butter, you can be sure that your cholesterol levels will take a hit when indulging in one of these fatty feasts. Here is some trivia I found out about the corny corn dog.

  • There is an actual "corny dog" sold by Fletcher's at the State Fair of Texas (and it is very popular).
  • Bow-Wow is diner lingo for hot dog, along with bun pup, tube steak and groundhog.
  • There is no way of knowing where the corn dog truly originated. Many claim to being the founders of this battered tube steak, such as the Fletchers, Carl and Neil, who introduced the corny dog between 1938 and 1942, the Albert Pick-L. Barth Wholesale Catalog of Hotel and Restaurant Supplies with their "Krusty Korn Dog Baker" machine which appeared in 1929, and the Pronto Pup, which made its debut in a fountain shop window in Portland Oregan in 1941.
  • The largest state fair in the United States is the State Fair of Texas, however, the Minnesota State Fair has a higher average daily attendance.
  • Big Tex is the mascot of the State Fair of Texas. He stands at 52 feet and was introduced to the fair in 1952.
  • Corn dogs on sticks have a couple of origins as well. One is the Cozy Dog Drive-In from Springfield, Illinois in 1946 and the other is Hot Dog on a Stick from Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, California, also in 1946.
  • In Australia the corn dog is sometimes referred to as a "Dippy Dog", and in Canada as a "Pogo Stick".
  • The first Saturday in March is National Corn Dog Day, which also celebrates basketball, tater tots, and American beer.
Also, check out this article I came across that features the top boardwalk foods: 8 Best Boardwalk Foods in the U.S. (Chocolate Covered Bacon. Really?!?)

"Deep Fried Twinkies"
(Photograph: Steve Snodgrass; Flickr Creative Commons)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Book Review: The Season by Sarah MacLean

Orchard Books, 2009; 352 pages; ISBN 0545048869
My Goodreads Rating: 5 stars

When I rate my books on I only give 5 stars to books that I would read again. This is one of those books. I absolutely loved it. Before I started reading books set in historical times (especially Regency England or anytime before 1900), I didn't think I would enjoy them. But I enjoy them just as much as I enjoy Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson in Sense and Sensibility. It must be a combination of the romance, the exquisite gowns, and the subtlety of the times. Set in early nineteenth century London, Alexandra Stafford is the only daughter of the Duke of Worthington and she is about to have her coming out season, along with her two best friends, Eliza and Vivi. They are all part of the "upper-crust" in London society. Alex also has three older brothers and a pseudo-brother Gavin who she has grown up with and gets along with very well. But as the season starts, Alex realizes that her feelings for Gavin are changing. Gavin is also dealing with some life-altering events as his father mysteriously was thrown off a horse and killed, which is not entirely plausible, so murder is suspected. Soon Alex and her three friends are following the murderer's tracks, and Gavin and Alex must deal with their blossoming romance and the dangers of British spies, traitors, and assassins. I felt like the story flowed very well and I liked that Alex was a female character that was both romantic and girly, but also independent and free-spirited. The chemistry between her and Gavin is palpable and the historical details are charming. I would recommend this one to readers of The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen and Bewitching Season and Betraying Season by Marissa Doyle.

Photo: From website

Friday, August 6, 2010

Lucy! I'm Home!!!

Lucille Ball, October 1942

Today is Lucille Ball's birthday (it would have been her 99th), and since I absolutely adore
I Love Lucy, I thought it would be fitting to take a closer look at the life of this genius of comedy and acting.

Some trivia about Lucille Ball that I thought was interesting:

  • Her father died at a very young age while her mother, DeDe, was pregnant with Lucy's brother Freddy.
  • Lucy was jealous when Freddy was first born and she didn't consider herself a "prissy" girl.
  • She was classmates with Bette Davis.
  • In her teens and twenties she was a dress model, a waitress, a showgirl, a Broadway actress and a poster girl.
  • Lucy fell in love with movie-making when she traveled to California in 1931 and took any extra work that was offered. She remarked that even if it involved something "unglamorous" like getting a pie in the face, she would take the work.
  • She loved backgammon (some of her boards went up for auction last month during an entertainment Heritage Auction).
  • Lucy and Desi Arnaz met in 1940 and Lucy thought he was "gorgeous and funny".
  • Lucy and Desi were actually married twice. The second wedding took place in a Catholic church in Canoga Park California in 1949.
  • The episode of I Love Lucy when Lucy Ricardo gives birth to Little Ricky aired on January 19th 1953, and it was watched by more viewers than Eisenhower's inauguration held the following night.
  • In 1955 Lucy's new home in Beverly Hills was being renovated and during this time the family stayed at the Beverly Hills Hotel. At the same time Lucy's TV family was also staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel during their time in Hollywood for Ricky Ricardo's big movie.
  • I Love Lucy won five Emmy Awards and was the most watched TV show in the United States four out of its six seasons.
  • Hall of Fame Magazine named I Love Lucy the Greatest Television Series.
Lucille Ball & Desilu Theatre, November 1951
(Photograph: Loomis Dean; LIFE Photo Archive)

Visit The official website for Lucille Ball

Some of the trivia I used is from the wonderful book
Lucy and Desi: A real life scrapbook of America's favorite TV couple by Elisabeth Edwards (Running Press, Philadelphia, PA 2004)