Just for Fun: Aunt Sammy’s Radio Recipes

April 19, 2010

When I first got the idea to blog about Aunt Sammy’s Radio Recipes, I figured that I’d be shedding light on a totally forgotten Government publication. I remembered Aunt Sammy as the title character of an odd-sounding booklet that GPO was selling in my early days here. When I searched the Internet, though, she was everywhere. Cooking sites, old time radio sites, newspaper sites – who knew?

On October 4, 1926, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Bureau of Home Economics and the Radio Service launched its Housekeeper’s Chat show, featuring Aunt Sammy – Uncle Sam’s wife, of course. In addition to meals and recipes, she talked about all kinds of other household matters, but it was the recipes that got listeners’ attention. In 1927 USDA put the most popular recipes into a pamphlet: Aunt Sammy’s Radio Recipes. According to the introduction to the 1976 USDA reprint (the one I remembered hearing about),  “The demand was so great that it had to be reprinted after only a month. ‘Aunt Sammy’s Radio Recipes’ was revised and enlarged three times between 1927 and 1931. In 1932 it became the first cookbook published in braille.”

Aunt Sammy vanished in 1934 and the show did likewise in 1946, yet her memory lingers on. I discovered that the 1931 edition has been reprinted by a private publisher and is still available. I like the 1976 edition, which you can find here, because it has contemporary recipes from USDA as well as some 1920’s favorites. It’s all what I think of as “hearty fare” or “comfort food” – definitely BA (before arugula). What with diners and such making a comeback, our Aunt Sammy may be more contemporary than we think. Maybe I’ll have meatloaf tonight…

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