Welcome to “Holiday Appetizers Through the Decades,” a special series celebrating over 75 years and 9 decades of Yankee Magazine holidays and tasty party appetizers! Each post spotlights a new decade with a classic cover, seasonal advice from the pages of Yankee, and one special party-pleasing holiday appetizer recipe for you to try.
With the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the US entered into World War II, switching the country into full war production mode. Men went overseas, women went into the workforce in record numbers, and families and communities bought war bonds, saved scrap metal, and planted victory gardens to help offset the food shortages and rationing restrictions. With all eyes and hearts turned towards the radio and the battlefield, holiday celebrations were small and humble, but with a strong and patriotic commitment to tradition.
In the December 1942 Thoughts for Food column, Marjorie Mills wrote “There’ll be empty places at most Christmas dinner tables this year, and many mothers will baste the turkey with a surreptitious tear or two. Homesick lads fighting in the four corners of the earth will be remembering all the beloved customs of home, the fire-side supper, the tree-trimming, the flickering candles and the carols. They’ll hold it all in dearer remembrance than ever before, and for their sakes we must preserve every shred of Christmas tradition, observe it more truly in spirit and in truth than before.”
The war years were tough on Yankee, too. That same issue (December 1942) contained a notice to subscribers announcing a suspension in publication owing to “circumstances of ill health, business conditions, personnel and the war.” It wasn’t until July 1945 that waiting subscribers were finally reunited with a thinner version of their beloved Yankee Magazine, but not to worry, it soon fattened and grew like never before.
Yankee Magazine, December 1942. The last issue for over two years.
When the war ended in September 1945, America surged forward with renewed gusto. More and more “convenience foods” were introduced to help mom in the kitchen — things like pie crust mix, frozen french fries, cake mixes, frozen orange juice, and minute rice all got their start in the second half of the 1940s, and quickly made their way onto holiday menus.
This recipe for Barbecue Frankfurters was a 3rd place winner in April 1948 for Mrs. Alma Calkins from White Plain, NY (her prize was a whopping $1.00 — and fame in the pages of Yankee). No doubt a version made with cocktail franks would have been a welcome sight at a post-war holiday party, perhaps alongside potato chip snappies (bleu cheese and minced onion spread thinly on potato chips), celery stuffed with cream cheese & crushed pineapple, chicken livers-in-a-blanket, deviled sardines, and miniature meat pies.
The second half of the decade was one of renewed energy and appreciation for family and freedom. In December 1946 Nancy Dixon wrote in her Food column, “Holly and mistletoe, pine trees and tinsel, popcorn balls and candy canes — whether your Christmas decorations are going to be old-fashioned or modern, this is the special day! Even more so than last year, perhaps, for more uniforms have been replaced by civvies. Now, we can really make up for the war years when, try as we might, the spirit of Christmas was hard to arouse.”
What better way to churn up Christmas spirit than by hosting a party for family and friends with plenty of good things (un-rationed things!) to eat?