The Spry books are one of the earliest additions to my comical cookbooks collection, they’re pretty well known due to their somewhat bizarre-looking (by current standards) illustrations and photographs. There is also a running theme about how digestible it is. FYI, Spry was a now defunct vegetable shortening, similar to Crisco.
This particular vignette follows the cooking tips of “Aunt Jenny”, a rosy-cheeked older woman who reminds me of a long deceased great aunt of mine. A few highlights:
An obsession with how digestible Spry is. As compared to what? Were previous ingredients used in shortening undigestible? Were the older shortenings the Olestra of the day? The cover photo caption mentions how digestible Spry is. So does the inner cover. So does page 1. Page 3…the caption shows Aunt Jenny sharing with the other ladies how she makes tender, flaky, digestible pie crusts. It’s not my underlining, Spry feels it’s so important that they underlined it. Have you ever had a pie crust that you had difficulty digesting?
Page 18 has kind of a creepy caption. I really don’t want to know about Uncle Calvin’s “licking the spoon” and how they aren’t much different than little boys.
One of the nastier pictures is on page 31. Aunt Jenny recommends brushing your meat or potatoes or fish with Spry. The picture shows some kind of meat that I can’t identify, half covered with Spry. The meat has more Spry on it than I would spread butter cream frosting on a cake. And I love butter cream frosting! So basically, cover your steak with a 1/2″ layer on all sides with Crisco for better flavor. Yuck.
Page 33 has a nice captioned picture showing Aunt Jenny feeding some poor “old bachelors” a good home-cooked meal. “Poor men don’t get any good home cookin’ at the diner down by the depot”. Down by the depot? Old bachelors, or just not out of the closet?
Finally, the last page has to cover the main point of Spry yet again. A cute retro-picture of an all-American kid eating a plate full of donuts. “My grandson, Tommy, tuckin’ away Spry doughnuts. They’re so light and digestible a child can eat ‘em”. Well I sure hope so, since you’re stuffing donuts down your beloved grandson’s gullet, I hope he can actually digest it.