Land of 10,000 Cookbooks: Grilling 1950s Style

“Go West, Hungry Man, where whole steers were roasted over glowing coals and devoured at one sitting.

“Go South, to the political conclaves were candidates provided sheep, beeves, suckling pigs with sweet potatoes and corn for their voters.

“Go East, to the shore and the clambake.

“Go North, to the campsites where trout jumped out of the brook into the frying pan.”

This was the call a generation or two ago. Today, you, the Hungry Man, and your friends, go to the backyard, beach and byways to your own grill party or cookout…” (from The Master Chef’s Outdoor Grill Cookbook, 1960)

The year is 1954, the weather is beautiful, and men everywhere are firing up the grill. Are you interested in having an end of summer picnic, mid-50s style? Hennepin County Library has a few books that might help you out. First you need to build your Outdoor Kitchen. You may need a bit of help from the kids.

Once you have assembled your kitchen, you will need a funny apron to show that you are the cook.

You may require help from a friend or two, in case it rains.

And of course you will need a few good recipes to impress the neighbors. The Minneapolis Central Library has several hundred books on grilling and barbecuing, but today you are reading The Master Chef’s Outdoor Grill Cookbook, published in 1954. The main course will be hamburgers, and we will have corn on the cob for the side. Here is a healthier variation of the s’more, for dessert:

Banana Boats

Place on flattest side…

             Green-tipped or all-yellow bananas, 1 for each guest

Pull back part of upper section of banana peel (do not pull off). Cut a trench the full length of the banana (you can eat the cut-out banana). Poke into trench, along the length of banana…

             1 cut-up marshmallow

Along side of marshmallow place…

             Small milk chocolate pieces

Pull banana peel back into place over filling. Place banana on grill, flat side down. Roast until skin is black. Pull skin back as you eat banana.

The kids will love it!

Most of our older cookbooks (pre-1960’s) are available on the 4th floor in the Dewey Stacks. Some of the older cookbooks cannot be checked out, but we have photocopiers where you can make a copy of a promising recipe. Of course, most of our barbecue and grilling cookbooks CAN be checked out…perfect for planning your late-summer cookout.

Cookbooks featured in this post:

The Master Chef’s Outdoor Grill Cookbook, ed. Melanie De Proft. Grosset and Dunlap, NY, NY: 1954 (641.578 C96.1)

The Hungry Man’s Outdoor Grill Cookbook, ed. Melanie De Proft.  Grosset and Dunlap, NY, NY: 1954 (641.578 C96)

How to Build and Enjoy Your Own Outdoor Kitchen, by Tom Riley. Popular Mechanics, Chicago, IL: 1953 (641.578 R57)


This is the second post in an intermittent series by Business, Science, and Gov Docs librarian Michele, featuring our extensive Cookbook collection. Keep an eye out for more “Land of 10,000 Cookbooks” posts for a bit of cooking inspiration.

Made these easy and delicious sweet potato burgers today!!!

-2 baked sweet potatoes
-1 ½ cans garbanzo beans
-1 can kidney beans
-1 cup rice
-1 cup oats
-1tbl BBQ sauce
-onions, garlic, curry powder, salt, pepper and cane sugar to taste.

Mash everything together!!!!! Form into burger patties.

Sugar, salt and pepper.

Cover patties in the sugar coating, cook on a hot pan or grill.