Vintage Gristle: Glistening Mounds of Mid-Century Meat

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In the 1950s and 60s, there were three basic food groups in America: pork, chicken and beef. Vegetable matter could be used for garnish. Food recipes and ads from this period featured brilliant close ups of glistening mounds of meat, striated with fat (“lean” really was a four letter word back then) and dripping with gravy. Food stylists were basically nonexistent back then, so what you got was nice full color mug shots of meat, no airbrushing, no Photoshop, no camera trickery…. just slabs of real meat in your face.


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Warning: What you are about to view is a vegan’s worst nightmare. If you prefer a tofu pita wrap over a giant mound of shoulder meat wallowing in its own pan juices, you may want to skip this post. For those of you (like me), who are akin to Fred Flintstone clicking his heels over his Brontosaurus ribs, then read on my brother!


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Wow. Even the skillet handle looks like gristle. The egg in the middle is a nice touch, don’t you think? I can literally feel my arteries tremble at the sight of this dish.


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“No bone to wrestle!”  Always a plus.


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Admittedly, this actually looks damn good.


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Everyone’s favorite: the glorious hot dog wreath.


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Note the slices of cheese between each section of the loaf.  A stroke of brilliance.


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As I said, food stylist didn’t exist back then. No attempt to pretty it up. … this is meat without makeup.


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Something’s not quite right here – there’s a vegetable present actually intended for consumption not garnish.


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I encourage you to study all these images up close…. except this one.  No good will come of that.


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I’m not sure what to make of this strange cheese perched atop these dried shriveled balls of beef.   Intriguing.


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I stand corrected. Vegetables should not only be used as garnish on the vintage dinner table – you can also use them as meat containers.


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You just don’t see ads with actual rotting meat in them anymore.  Shame.


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Greatest invention since the printing press: meat in a can.


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Hitler’s favorite breakfast treat!



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Woah. Easy on the cheese there big fella.


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Only in the 60s would you have a hot dog wrapped in bacon… in a cracker ad.


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Bacon goes great with Scotch and Marlboros… your husband will love it!


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Little known fact: Spam could levitate in the 1960s.

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