Henry Ford, the automobile pioneer, was also a soy-bean fanatic. He was not only interested in the soy bean as food, but also as a source of industrial materials, and he invested millions in technology to exploit its possibilities. Robert Smith, one of his chemists, said that Ford’s intention was ‘to grow automobiles from the soil’, and he did indeed develop a prototype car body made from soy plastic, but sadly it turned out not to be a practical, viable proposition.
Soy-based foods are well accepted nowadays, but in the 1940’s it was a different story - soybeans were not mainstream. The Ford Company hosted many all-soy meals to help popularise them as a source of food. On September 24, 1943 it was the turn of a ‘selected group’ of Detroit newspaperwomen to be the company’s guests. The ‘World Neighbour Luncheon’ was ‘planned especially to introduce practical soy bean dishes to the world’s housewives, and ‘to demonstrate how the soy bean can help to rehabilitate the war-devastated countries where dairly herds and food sources have all but been destroyed.’
The menu was:
Celery stuffed with soy pimiento cheese.
Canapes of soya crackers with soy butter.
Soy bean soup.
Soya Melba toast.
Soy sprouts Creole.
Buttered green soya beans.
Baked soya beans.
Soy bean coffee.
Soy bean milk.
Soy sprout salad.
Soy bean bread, butter, and crackers.
I am not sure how the parsley potatoes snuck in there, but no matter, the significant thing about this meal was that it was the first mention in print of soya ice-cream – and it was described as rich and delicious by the lucky guests. It was not long before at least one company saw a nice ice-cream niche, and a by mid-March 1944 the Old Mills company were running display ads in the Waterloo (Iowa) Daily Courier for their Toasted Soya Ice Cream - ‘a new and delicious wartime flavor’ with ‘fine ground toasted nut meats and has a slight maple flavoring.’ Sadly, I have not been able to find a 1940’s recipe for soya ice-cream, so this one, the ‘Recipe for the Day’ from the Daily Capital News, Jefferson City Missouri will have to do.
One-Hour Soy Rolls
1 cup hot water,
1 teaspoon salt,
6 tablespoons shortening,
¼ cup sugar,
1 or 2 cakes of yeast,
2 tablespoons luke-warm water,
1 egg, well beaten
¼ cup sifted soya flour
3 ¼ cups sifted flour (white)
Combine hot water, sail, shortening and sugar. Cool until lukewarm. Add yeast softened in lukewarm water. Add egg. Mix and sift flour mixtures and all one half to first mixture. Beat well. Add enough flour to make dough easy to handle. Knead on floured greased muffin tins, brush tops with melted butler, cover and allow rolls to rise in warm place, (80 degrees) until in size. Bake in hot oven 425 degrees for 12 minutes. Remove and brush with fat. For later use, store in refrigerator in greasedbowl. Brush with fat, cover. Makes 18 rolls.
Quotation for the Day …
A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.
‘Hannibal Lecter’ in The Silence of the Lambs.
In Kyoto I ate an all-soy lunch, even the drinks and desserts were tofu-based.
By 1935 each car manufactured by Ford used one bushel (60 pounds) of soy, mostly in paint, but including plastic trim parts.
That's amazing, Steve. I wonder how much soy is sneaked into industrial products nowadays, - or is it all diverted to tofu :) (which I guess is a manufactured product anyway, isnt it?)
honestly, this lunch sounds ghastly! traditional fermented soy foods like miso and tempeh are nice and I like them a lot.
but unfortunately the manufactured soy protein foods as well as fresh soy foods like tofu and soy milk contain toxins like goitrogens and phytates that can cause health problems in people who eat them more than about once or twice a week. once I heard that unfermented soy foods might be responsible for vascular dementia I stopped eating them very often. tofu once a month or so now and I stay away from soy nuggets and soy cookies and what have you!
Mr Ford was a little bit of a nutter about some things...though I suppose using soy as a source for industrial materials isn't so bad. nowadays I wonder if we'd find that it's not environmentally sustainable however.
fascinating post, Old Foodie.
Hello gastronomer. What fascinates me about soy products is that they are highly manufactured - yet the Health food shops and "natural" foods people promote them like mad. There is less done to milk to convert it into cheese than there is to make a lot of soy products. I hadnt heard about the dementia link, so I must chase that up. There is certainly plenty of concern about feeding soy products to infants and little children, because of the potential effect of the plant oestrogens in them.
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