Cooking Up History


This cookbook was compiled and published in 1947, just two years after the end of the Second World War. A strong connection can be made between the war and the creation of this cookbook, specifically the types of foods included in the book. First, there was important emphasis placed on following a specific diet during the pre- and post-war eras. The purpose of eating well was to ensure that all Canadians were healthy and, thus, able to contribute to the war effort. Because of this concern for nutrition that stemmed from the war effort, the Nutrition Services Division and the Canadian Nutrition Program were created in 1941. Both programs worked to advise Canadians about foods that would contribute to their overall health and well-being; these foods included milk, fruits, breads, vegetables, meat and fish, and eggs. Utilizing some of these recommended foods, some of the healthier recipes found in the Kindersley Cook Book include Orange Bread (page 4); Tomatoes and Eggs (page 37 and pictured here); and a Haddock Fillet Dish (page 39).

Just a year before this cookbook was published and shortly after the return of soldiers from the Second World War, a dramatic spike in Canada’s population began to occur. The "baby boom" was the result of an uptick in marriages and births that took place after the war ended. This is evident in the cookbook when looking at the advertisements scattered throughout. There are several advertisements and notes at the bottom of the recipe pages encouraging the reader to buy baby formula or other infant dietary staples. One example of this is on page 50, where it is noted: "In baby’s diet, buy Pablum, Dapta, Infantal, etc., at Eric Bellward’s Prescription Drug Store."


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In terms of technology, there are several small kitchen appliances used in the cookbook's recipes that provide insight into the domestic technologies available in Canadian homes in the mid-20th century. Introduced in the mid-19th century, the cookstove became a staple in Canadian homes. They allowed foods like cakes and breads to be made more effectively and efficiently. The impact of this technology on Canadian society is evident in the Kindersley Cook Book where recipes for cakes and breads require a baking time anywhere between one hour to five hours in a "moderate oven" (i.e. an oven that is heated between 325F and 400F). Another common appliance used throughout the cookbook is the stand mixer. Herbert Johnson created the Hobart mixer in 1915, based off the Eastman electric eggbeater. To make it practical for domestic use, it was reinvented and downsized to become the KitchenAid stand mixer in 1919. A similar mixer that would be used is pictured here. Afterwards, stand mixers  became a desirable small kitchen appliance to have. Stand mixers gained popularity in Canada in the 1940s, as the Kindersley Cook Book demonstrates. A mixer or beater is required for many of the recipes in the cookbook, showing that the book was published during an era when electric mixers were ubiquitous in Canadian households.

Another important element of the war effort during the 1940s was rationing. Introduced in 1942 in Canada, food rationing involved the limiting of domestic food consumption in order to save foodstuffs that would nourish and sustain Allied soldiers and military personnel. Some of the foods that were rationed include sugar, coffee, and butter. This practice ended in 1947, two years after the end of the war. Once foods no longer needed to be rationed, there was a gradual shift in diets and consumption habits. This shift resulted in a more celebratory approach to food and enjoyment of cooking and baking once again. As a result, more lavish and comforting recipes began appearing in cookbooks, such as the Mount Royal Chocolate Cookies on page 21 of the Kindersley Cook Book. The presence of several decadent dessert recipes, most of which do not shy away from using copious amounts of sugar, mark the end of sugar rationing and the beginning of a new postwar era for cooking and baking.


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