Friday, January 12, 2007

Victory Sausages.

Today, January 12th …

On this day in 1943 in the USA, an official of the Meats Division of the Office of Price Administration announced that for the duration of the war, frankfurters (or ‘hot dogs’) would be replaced with ‘Victory Sausages’, and that a proportion of the meat of the said sausages would itself be replaced with ‘an unspecified amount of soybean meal or some other substitute.’

The ostensible justification for the enforcement of ‘an arbitrary sausage formula’ was the shortage of real meat, but surely this could have been carried out without a name change for the product? Consumers have always assumed that the contents of a sausage are arbitrary, have they not? It was clearly a propaganda opportunity too good to miss – a simple name change to demonstrate anti-German sentiment, an idea resurrected from the previous war when ‘sauerkraut’ became ‘Liberty Cabbage’, and resurrected again when ‘French Fries’ briefly became ‘Freedom Fries’ (due to anti-French sentiment on the part of US soldiers in Iraq).

Propaganda aside, the government assured the populace that the sausage formula might be arbitrary, ‘but it would meet the standards of wholesome nutrition regardless of how much substitute matter it contained.’ Soybeans – ‘the vegetable meat’ - got a large amount of their own propaganda during this time. Numerous commercial products based on soy meal with names only marketing gurus could love came onto the market. One was called Soysage, and consisted of meal made from soy, peanuts, and cottonseed, augmented with wheat bran and wheat germ and flavoured ‘discreetly’ with dehydrated onion and spices. A food writer in 1943 in the New York Times waxed as lyrical as she could on its virtues, informing her readers that ‘as might be expected from its composition, Soysage is to be employed as a meat substitute.’ The package directions, she said ‘say to blend a cup of it with half a cup of water and form the mixture into patties or “sausages”, brown in a skillet, add more water and continue cooking for about eight minutes until the moisture is absorbed.’ The good folk in the New York Times kitchen felt the necessity to value-add to this recipe, and recommended adding a grated raw carrot, a grated onion, and a pinch of sage to the mixture, and after initial browning, to transfer them to the oven to finish cooking, and then serve them with ‘an appetizing tomato or parsley sauce.’

The ‘vegetable meat’ was also heavily promoted as a grain substitute, and the recipes supplied by various authorities for soymeal in this role sound rather more palatable than those for it as a meat substitute. Here is another New York Times recipe, also from 1943.

Soybean Bread.
Six cups sifted enriched flour, one cake yeast, three and a half tablespoons dry skim milk, two cups water, three teaspoons salt, two and a half tablespoons sugar, nine tablespoons high fat soybean flour and one and a half tablespoons shortening. Two cups of fluid milk may be used in place of the dry skim milk and water.

Monday’s Story …

Too much Molasses.

A Previous Story for this Day …

James Boswell used food to assist his amorous endeavours in 1763, in a story called ‘Food for Perfect Felicity’.

On this Topic …

Official First World War recipes for meatless dinners made with beans, were in THIS STORY.

Quotation for the Day …

People who enjoy eating sausage and obey the law should not watch either being made. Otto von Bismarck

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