A Heinz Feast With Toledo Ham, Spicy Vegetable Casserole and Pink Peach Sundae

Posted on Apr 28 2010 - 2:24pm by RetroRuth

Holy Cow!!! We have a ketchup-covered whopper of a Mid-Century Menu for you guys today. Gah. This weekend during our thrifting trip, we stumbled on what just might be one of the craziest mid-century cookbooks ever: 57 Prize-Winning Recipes From H.J. Heinz Co. I just…wow…I don’t even have words for how insane this cookbook really is.  It was featured in The Gallery of Regrettable Food, a hilarious book by author James Lileks.  If you haven’t read The Gallery yet, you really really need to go out and get a copy. Seriously.  This is one of our favorite coffee table books.

Anyway, the concept of this ketchup cookbook is very simple. Heinz needed people to eat more ketchup, and so they had a contest to see who could come up with the best recipe containing ketchup.  Except they made one major error. Instead of judging recipes on how GOOD they were, I am pretty sure they were judged on how much ketchup could be crammed into a recipe.  So we aren’t just talking teaspoons of ketchup, or stuff that tastes good with ketchup on the side. We are talking about CUPS of ketchup.  Cups. Even in the dessert. My god.

In my humble opinion, every single recipe in this book deserves to be made for the MC Menu. Every. Single. One. They all looked terrible.  But Tom and I managed to narrow it down to just a few of the scariest.


Blargh!!!! Even worse than I imagined!

Okay, sure.  Ketchup on potatoes.  I’ll buy that.  But spicy? Whatever.

What. The. Heck. Is. This.

I’ll tell you what it is. It’s called insanity. And apparently it’s catching, because we are off!

Ready for the firing squad.

Okay, see, here is problem number one.  The can of condensed soup I bought said beef with vegetable. No where on the front did it said “with alphabets”.  Except in the ingredients! Nice. Really nice.  So, that would be my fault. But I used it anyway.

A layer of potatoes and onions.

Covered with ketchup/soup sauce.

The “H” stands for “horrible”.

Tom, working hard to ruin his peice of ham.

Covered with onions, dotted with butter and ready for the oven.

After the first 15 minutes in the oven we pulled it out and dropped some eggs on it.

Poured a ton of ketchup on it…

and sprinkled anise on it….

And then put cheese on it, and stuck it back in the oven.

Cause that sounds good, right?  Hello?  Whatever. You think this is bad?  After we shoved our ham back in the oven we had to make “dessert”.



As a sidenote, this REEKED like ketchup. Reeked.

I forgot to take pictures of the finished dishes, but you can see them on Tom’s plate.  Just stuff covered with ketchup.

“How is it?”


“Oh what?”

“Oh…it tastes like ham-ketchup-licorice.”

I took a bite.  It DID taste like ham-ketchup-licorce. Stupid anise.  By then it was too late to scrape it off. There was also a disgusting amount of ketchup on the ham, way more than should ever be necessary ever.   The “spicy” casserole was slightly better, but tasted like vegetable soup.  In no way was it a memorable recipe.  Or even a good one, really.

And then it was time for dessert.

“It smells like ketchup!”

“Stop whining and take a bite.”

“I don’t wanna.”

But, of course, he did anyway.

“How disgusting is it?”

“Totally disgusting. It tastes pretty much like ketchup with a background of peaches and allspice.  The peaches and allspice would have been fine, but the ketchup is just disgusting.”

The Verdict:

Toledo Ham: Bad.  Not inedible, but a total waste of a peice of ham and two eggs.  I suppose they thought it would taste like breakfast, but it was just disgusting with the anise on it. Blah.

Spicy Vegetable Casserole: Bland and tasteless. Tasted mostly like vegetable soup.  Thankfully, you couldn’t taste much of the ketchup in this one.

Pink Peach Sundae: Disgusting. Tasted like ketchup on ice cream.

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit in...to the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (www.midcenturymenu.com), No Pattern Required (www.nopatternrequired.com), and I Ate The 80's (www.iatethe80s.com).

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9 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Amy April 28, 2010 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    oh dear that use of the ketchup just makes me wanna barf, who on earth made up these recipes? LOL your poor husband, he’s a good sport.

  2. Inky April 28, 2010 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    i’m only to “The “H” stands for “horrible”.” and right now i am crying from the laughing. can’t wait to see what the rest of the meal and post are like….bahahahahah, i need a tissue….

  3. renee April 28, 2010 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    Just the smell of ketchup alone would have made me nauseous. Your Tom is a brave man. Great post, I cant stop laughing.

  4. Sara in AZ April 28, 2010 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    Wow! All I keep thinking is ‘ketchup in a dessert’??????? Ketchup and peaches – that is totally INSANE!!! Almost as insane as the Ham and boiled eggs and ketchup. This MCM meal was a real doozy!

    PS – The alphabet soup was a real hoot!

  5. Manny April 28, 2010 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    I just threw up a little… your poor hubbie, I laughed until I cried if that helps him at all 🙂

  6. Annie B. April 29, 2010 at 9:20 am - Reply

    UNholy Toledo! What a way to profane peaches, not to mention decent ham and eggs. Definite food abuse. That stuff on Tom’s plate looks like something had a really bad accident. (Yes, I am laughing my @#$ off, too!)

  7. Angela April 29, 2010 at 5:24 pm - Reply

    I look forward to MCM every single week! I have to tell you, your photographs of Tom’s reactions to the first bite of each dish are priceless! Your commentary often has me in tears, and Tom’s facial expressions always start the laughter right back up again.

    I should really stop reading this at work 🙂

  8. TimC April 29, 2010 at 5:28 pm - Reply

    Looks like it was a 2 shirt dinner, Tom. Must have gotten ketchup on the first one!

  9. sablemable April 30, 2010 at 9:50 am - Reply

    Oh, God, Ruth! Our favorite recipe booklet again, LOL!

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