Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Chocolate Cake Hussy

This is a story with everything: fast women, battling families, revenge - and, best of all, chocolate cake.

It's 1938. Paula and her new husband Donnie (a Zeppoesque mummy's boy, from the look of things) have just got off the train to go live in his hometown. And her new mother-in-law is right there, waiting to pounce, in a coat made of Kermit the Frog (who seems to have been the previous object of her disdain) and a Robin Hood hat. And she is glaring at Paula like she was pond scum. Uh oh.

You see, Mother Dear had already picked out a nice bride for Sonny: Nan Blaine from down the street. "She can cook," Mother Dear muttered as Paula sashayed down the steps.

Anyway, it just so happened that the big church social was coming up. And there would be cakes on display there. The cakes were all-important. They would be judged. And the quality of those cakes had a direct moral correlation with the cake-makers' kin. The Tell Tale Cupcake!

Mother Dear just knew that Paula was going to disgrace the family with some sort of hussified mess. Why, land sakes, she'd probably be daydreaming over a copy of Photoplay, and mix in a jar of mustard by mistake (or else because Hot Dan was her culinary advisor, in which case the mustard would be absolutely on purpose).

Well, what do you think happened?

This is an ad for Baker's Chocolate, so we know things are going to end in a chocolate-induced haze of happiness. Yes, Paula's cake was not a terrible mustard-laced culinary travesty, but was in fact the most magical thing the townsfolk had ever, ever tasted! Better even than Miss Perfect Nan Blaine's cake! And after just one bite of that cake, Paula's Kermit-slaying mother-in-law was slobbering over her like she was a delicious ice cream sundae. Paula just lowered her eyes and beamed modestly, the hapless Donnie at her side looking cluelessly happy - but you know that she won't forget the way Mother Dear looked daggers at her. No, she won't. Wait till the family tastes her next surprise dessert.

[From Life, February 7, 1938. You can see the big version here, which includes not only the mother-in-law's snappy first-person story, but also Paula's recipe for Golden Cream Chocolate Cake, which is pretty much a Boston Cream Pie made with chocolate cake layers.]


Barbara said...

Kind of reminds me of a Titus episode where his mom laced Thanksgiving dinner with all her meds. I think that's what Paula has in her mind for the next cake...

Tori Lennox said...

If I were Paula I'd be urging Donnie to take a spiffy new job on the other side of the country.

IludiumPhosdex said...

Speaking of a "coat made of Kermit the Frog," the late Jim Henson used an old jacket of his mothers' to create the very first version of Kermit.

As in TV commercials for Wilkins Coffee, a popular brand around the Washington/Baltimore area around the mid-late 1950's, which Mr. Henson produced to support his studies at the University of Maryland.

Lidian said...

Barbara - I think so too!

Tori - I would have stayed on the train, myself ;)

IludiumPhosdex - E.M. Forster would approve: 'Only connect! Live in fragments no longer' (also in frog coats no longer, etc etc)

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Bossy Betty said...

Hope Paula slips in a special little something into Mother-in-law's next cake. Oh, what a shame, MIL seems to have slipped to the floor!

Anonymous said...

What a hoot! yes, I actually even clicked to get to the large article! Sheesh....drama in a 1938 magazine :) That was hysterical!

Bill said...

Tune in next week when Paula befriends Charlotte Vale, and our two plucky gal-pals swap recipes for matricide.

Lidian said...

Betty - Oh, whoops!

Lisa - I love these story ads so much, they are so weird and fun!

Bill - Yes, this could be the beginning of a beautiful soap opera...