Campbell's Soup - Real Food Nourishment in 1922?

Campbell's Soup - Real Food Nourishment in 1922?

An actual ad I found in a National Geographic magazine dated August 1922

The above ad was in a National Geographic magazine from 1922. I discovered the magazine anew while going through some items my dad left me. Had looked through it 5 or 6 years ago and then forgot about it, having stored it away.  I found it just days after I purchased an old cookbook from our local library sale. House and Garden's Cook Book was published in 1958. Perusing through the recipes I was surprised that even as early as 60 years ago, food was still more traditional than it was processed.

Food was obviously very different in years past (as seen in the ad above). Bone marrow? When was the last time you heard anyone of culinary expertise mention bone marrow? It seems Campbell's soup could even have been classified as a traditional food in 1922. Hard to imagine that it was probably more nourishing than many of the "modern" foods that are put on the table nowadays. Bone marrow is a densely nutritious food and was just one of the many nourishing foods that our great-grandmothers consistently fed their families.

But the Campbell's ad gave me the idea to look for an oxtail recipe in House and Garden's Cook Book. I have not yet made this stew, but it sounds really good to me:
Oxtail Ragout

Buy 2 or 3 oxtails and ask the butcher to disjoint them. This does mean disjoint - cut through at the joints - not simply hack into pieces. Also buy 1 calf's foot.

Place the oxtails in flat baking dish, season them to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle very lightly with flour. Roast in a 450 degree oven for 30 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time and basting the meat with juices in the pan.

Remove the meat from the oven, pour off the fat (save and refrigerate), and blaze the oxtails with 2 ounces of cognac. Transfer the pieces of oxtail to a deep casserole and add 2 carrots, cut in pieces, an onion stuck with cloves, 1 teaspoon of thyme, a sprig of parsley and a bay leaf. Cover with water or beef stock and cook in a 350 degree oven for 3 hours. Reduce the heat to 250 degrees and cook for 3 more hours. Serve in deep bowls, giving each person plenty of the rich broth. Serves 4-6. With it serve boiled potatoes and braised cabbage sprinkled with poppy seeds.
  • Oxtail Ragout is even better if made the day before. Let it cool, skim off the fat (save and refrigerate) and reheat before serving.
There are several odd and funny things about this recipe:
  1. Whoever wrote this recipe must have had a falling out with the butcher, who obviously hacked away at the oxtails instead of "disjointing" them.
  2. Did you notice that you were told to buy a calf's foot? Yet there is no instruction in the recipe at all for what to do with it. Oh well, you will probably not find a calf's foot, so not to worry about what to do with it. However, if you do happen upon a calf's foot, it seems to me that you would treat it the same as the oxtails. 
  • BTW, calves' feet were added for the densely nutritious gelatin they imparted to a soup or stew. Reiterating, traditional food preparation was still in practice at this time (1958).  
Finally, if you cannot read the little jingle in the ad that is just above the Campbell's kid it goes like this:

Soup so good you'll want to sing
Dance and play and everything.
For it is made the Campbell''s way
Which means the best, as you will say!

Have you ever cooked anything with oxtails? What do you think about making the recipe above, rich with bone marrow?


  1. That's such an amazing find Sharon! I passed this on to my sister. Her husband is Chinese and he grew up on oxtail soup! I hope she will try your receipe and have some success with it.

  2. That was delightful! Thanks for sharing.


  3. Thanks for the post, Sharon! Just after reading this today I happened upon some oxtails at the market. I've looked for them before and had trouble finding them when I had the time to try something new, but now I'm stocked and hope to try making either the soup or just some good broth with them soon after Easter. Your cookbook excerpt made me curious what my great-grandmother's old WWII era _Joy of Cooking_ would say about oxtails, and I found that there are at least 3 recipes using them! (And I also stumbled upon a recipe that reminded me of the Campbell's ad--it's called "Marrow Balls" and calls for '1/4 cup fresh marrow.' Apparently the author assumed her readers would know the most efficient way of harvesting that, because she didn't elaborate!) So interesting. Thanks again. I really enjoy your posts documenting food history.

  4. We get our beef (actually beefalow) from my sister-in-law. It is grass fed and yummy. We always have some oxtails, even more than our side of beef-worth because most folks don't want them.
    It is a slow-food because you need to give it time to simmer all the goodness out but it is so worth it!


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Sharon Kaufman
Jesus Christ has been my Savior since 1975. Robert, the wonderful man that God provided to love me has been my husband for 48 of those years. We have five grown children, with children of their own. Of course, that means that we have grandchildren - ten to be exact, and nine great-grandchildren with another one on the way. I have been a stay-at-home mom, sometimes helping to supplement the income from within the home. Now I am a stay-at-home grandmother. Jesus Christ has been my guide and keeper and I have found, in all the trials, heartbreaks and good times that He just keeps getting sweeter and sweeter as the years roll by. My future is secure and I look forward to eternity in the presence of my Creator, Redeemer and King.
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