Thursday, June 2, 2005
Dry Soup Mixes Gain Popularity in 1930s
By ROGER M. GRACE
Dry soup mixes came into vogue in the 1930s. By that time, “soup cakes” or “portable soup” — an 18th Century creation made by slowly boiling soup down to a goo which hardened — was passe, in light of the popularity of condensed canned soups, Campbell’s being chief among them.
While advertisements in the early to mid-1930s portrayed dry soup mixes as something new, they actually had been around for quite awhile, but hadn’t caught on.
By 1879, P. Maulenbeek & Co. of New York was producing “Steam Cooked Pea Meal for Soup,” as well as bean meal. The product, according to promotional material, “[d]oes away ENTIRELY and forever with the old-fashioned process of soaking over night....” Soup could be prepared from the mixture in five minutes.
A May 7, 1913 ad in the Syracuse (N.Y.) Herald for Puro Soups depicted powder being poured from a cylindrical container into a pot of boiling water. “Just empty this concentrated dry soup out of its pure, parchment-lined fibre box into a pot of water and boil 8 minutes,” the ad instructed, going on to say:
“No preservatives used — no tin — no danger. Europe buys its soup in this dry Puro form — and Europe highly values food purity and nutrition.”
Bouillon cubes also were being developed during this period.
An ad in the Dec. 8, 1911 issue of the Lincoln (Neb.) offered 12 Steero Bouillon Cubes for sale for a dime. Armour and Oxo were also making boullion cubes in that decade.
A United Press report sent by mail to New York from the war front in Europe in November, 1914, and published in the Modesto (Calif.) Evening News on Jan. 8, 1915, told of the “reserverations” carried by French troups. They included “soup essence, in cube form.”
The Oxnard Courier on Aug. 11, 1916 reported that in Berlin, “[T]he government is now selling soup cubes made of meat and fat for one cent each, which makes three cups of good soup.”
Dry soup mixes finally became trendy, apparently at least in part as a result of U.S. government efforts to promate dehydration as an alternative to canning. In one significant respect, the mixes were a marked advancement over soup cakes or bouillion cubes. They typically included dehydrated components that would float in the soup once the mass was activated by being boiled in water.
example, this ad in the Indiana (Pa.)
Evening Gazette which appeared Dec. 6, 1935, tells of a preparation which
included alphabet noodles:
The downside was that soup mixes were not derived from soup. That is, it was not soup that was dehydrated, but, rather, ingredients which, when joined together in boiling water, produced a simulation of soup.
A 1944 Illinois appeals court decision noted that Dainty Noodle Soup Mix “is composed of dehydrated vegetables, protein derivatives, chicken fat, flour Seminole and gelatin” and that the “only part” of it “which contains any animal or meat products is the chicken oil or fat.”
The healthfulness of soup comes, of course, from nutrients that are drawn from meats, bones and vegetables into the slow-boiling water.
Turning a negative into a positive, ads for dry soup mixes actually boasted of the products never having been in soup form. For example, an ad for Continental Noodle Soup Mix appearing Feb. 28, 1941 in the Nebraska State Journal proclaimed that the product “isn’t just a readymade soup warmed over,” adding:
“You actually home-cook it yourself — cook it to old-fashioned chicken-y richness on your own stove.”
Virtually the same ad appeared in the April 25, 1941 edition of the Oakland Tribune. The difference was that the product was now Lipton’s Continental Noodle Soup Mix and a line was added at the bottom reading, “MADE BY THE LIPTON TEA PEOPLE.”
The Lipton Tea people became the leading makers of dry soup mixes. Their dry onion soup mix — which came to be included in innumerable recipes — was introduced in 1952.
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