I've was leafing through my 1945 cookbook, The American Woman's Cookbook, the other day and marveling at the number of dishes that were served as molds. Molded ice creams, molded cakes, molded gelatin, molded sandwich loaves, molded pasta rings... everything you can imagine was served up in highly stylized shapes! It's hard to imagine what the fascination was in forcing your food into tight little rings and loaves. And then my brother-in-law pointed something out that gave me another perspective. He mentioned that it must have had something to do with the fact that many women were using electric refrigerators for the first times in their lives during the 1940s. For the first time, they had the ability to do more than just keep foods frozen or cool --- they could modulate the temperature in their refrigerators and count on these machines to keep their molded dishes at just the right temperature for any length of time. No wonder they were crazy about refrigerable recipes. They were testing out their new kitchen toys!
Advertisements for new postwar refrigerators usually included a molded item or two in the refrigerator's contents. Here's a 1947 ad for the Frigidaire --- and check out the molded gelatine ring on what looks like lettuce leaves. It's on the shelf above the cake:
Refrigerator manufacturers published recipe booklets as promotional items and, as you can see, two molded items made the cover of this 1949 booklet!
The molded gelatin salad is probably the last remnant from this era. Do you think this is a vintage trend worth reviving, or should we let it rest?