Remembering Oleo

Front cover of the cookbook. The “artist” was not given credit.

I ran across a 1973 cookbook put together by my senior year high school classmates, probably as a fundraiser. My mother had saved it for decades but unloaded it on me when she downsized her lifestyle a few years ago.

Food was different back then!

More often than not, recipes calling for vegetables specified frozen veggies like brocolli and cauliflower. Rice was popular, as it still is.

In the Salads category, four of the six recipes included gelatin or Jello. Those four also included whipped cream or whipped milnot. Many of you can’t imagine what I’m talking about. You had to be there. These “salads” were molded gelatin things, usually with added canned fruit. Nothing like what we call salad today in the U.S.

A modern gourmet salad

Casseroles were popular. Remember Green Bean Casserole? “Casserole” was also used to describe the type of pan required.

Karo syrup and Velveeta cheese got a few mentions.

Many of the pie and cakes required oleo or shortening, often with butter in the same recipe. I saw only two reference to liquid vegetable oil (Wesson). I bet Crisco was the leading shortening back then.

Cookies and sweets typically needed butter, margarine, oleo, or shortening. (If you clicked the earlier oleo link, you learned that oleo and margarine are usually the same thing.) We weren’t afraid of butter back then. Butter was probably more expensive than the other fats.

One sweet treat that definitely takes me back to my childhood, and I’ver rarely seen it since then, is…

Chocolate No-Bake Cookies (aka Boiled Cookies)


  1. 2 cups sugar
  2. 1/2 cup milk
  3. 1/2 cup butter (one stick) (or margarine back in the day)
  4. 1/4 cup (or 4 Tbsp?) cocoa
  5. 1/2 cup peanut butter
  6. 1/2 tsp salt (optional)
  7. 1 tsp vanilla
  8. 2.5 or 3 cups of quick cook oatmeal (aka minute oats)
  9. Optional: 1/2 cup grated coconut or nuts

Mix the sugar, cocoa and salt in a one and half saucepan. Add butter and milk then bring to a boil. Boil for 60-90 seconds, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon (or similar). Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients; if you use the grated coconut or nuts, reduce the oatmeal from three to 2.3 cups. Mix for about a minute. Drop by the spoonful onto wax paper covering a baking sheet. Chill until firm. Yield is 36 cookies. (Thank you Debbie Drake, class of “73! I slightly modified her Rx based on another I’ve had on my desk for seven years.)

Artillery Punch

The funniest thing about this trip down the memory hole was the recipe I submitted for Artillery Punch. Remember, we were 17 or 18 years old, but there must have been faculty supervising the cookbook committee. A few teachers contributed their own recipes. Mine was the only one of 50 or 60 recipes that included any alcohol. The legal drinking age back then was 18. A recipe like Artillery Punch would never fly in today’s PC world! I don’t remember, but I probably got the recipe from my parents. Did I submit it just for laughs or shock value? Who knows? One of the other kids submitted a recipe for Barbecued Bear, which I think was a joke (fess up, Kip Martin). The Dove Casserole recipe was fer reel.

What the kids these days call Jungle Juice

One classmate provided a recipe for Jew Chicken. Whaaaa….?

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: It was fun to run across old buddies’ names, like Charles Enos, Howard Sheets, and Jeff Johnson.

Comments are closed.