Vintage Kitchen Kitsch on eBay – Stuffed Fish Eyes

Posted on Oct 5 2013 - 5:00am by RetroRuth

Hope everyone is having a great weekend so far! Today we are tackling something that I have always found simultaneously revolting and fascinating: The practice of putting a fake “eye” on a cooked fish. I am sure that since the beginning of the time when people started cooking things with eyes, they have been jamming decorative edibles into the empty eye sockets. But mid-century cooking really took it to another level with the stuffed olive slice, which is present in sooooo many vintage cookbooks and food photographs. The stuffed olive slice is great because it always gives the fish a cartoony and vaguely surprised look, kind of like the fish is thinking, “Oh, I didn’t know YOU were coming to dinner!”

I normally make it my business to seek out and purchase these “fish-eye” cookbooks, but this week  I thought I would pick out a selection for you guys to purchase for your very own!

 Recipe Booklet Seafood Slimmers Fish Recipes Commerce 1975

Seafood Slimmers

Why I Want This: “Oh, I didn’t know YOU were coming to dinner!”

 Vintage (1979) Paperback Recipe Book by Ideals: Fish & Seafood Cookbook

Ideals Fish and Seafood

Why I Want This: Did you see it?

Ideals Fish and Seafood

Oh yeah. There it is!


Fish and Seafood Cookery

Why I Want This: So…it isn’t an olive, but I think I might want this this even more than the other two!

 Vtg 1943 Set of 3 Dell Publishing Co. "Hook-Up" Cook Book

300 Timely Fish Recipes

Why I Want This: It turns out that the fake eye trick works for things that you just pretend are fish, too! Check out this handsome gelatin gentleman.

300 Timely Fish Recipes

 VTG Kraft Cookery Spring Issue Recipes Booklet

Kraft Cookery

Why I Want This: Of course, I had to include a picture of this classic!!! It has everything. It’s not really a fish. It’s filled with tuna. It has the olive eye. The bottom is tomato juice. And, of course, it’s gelatin.

So, I hope that you liked this stroll down fake eye lane. And if you want to check out all of my cookbook picks for this week, head on over to my cookbook Wish List!


Wish list

How fun is that!?! And if you are still jonesing for even more kitsch, check out the eBay picks on my other blog, No Pattern Required!

*Disclaimer: Mid-Century Menu is part of the eBay Partner Network, and that means that when you click on our eBay links we may earn a very small commission.

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit 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 (, No Pattern Required (, and I Ate The 80's (

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

  1. Poppy Crocker October 5, 2013 at 12:04 pm - Reply

    The row of lemons behind the fish on “Seafood Slimmers” seems to mirror the eye motif too. It intensifies the creepiness just a bit.

  2. Kim Campbell October 5, 2013 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    My daughter and I did the eye thing when we unexpectedly got whole, bone in fried catfish instead of fillets. lol!

  3. Meem October 5, 2013 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    AAHH! Fake eye fish, some of those things actually looked good!!! Fake eye or not, gelatin and tuna, not good!!

  4. tam francis October 5, 2013 at 10:49 pm - Reply

    Every time I see something with gelatin and I have quite a few cookbooks from the 30s-60s and aspic stuff reminds me of “Alice Adams.” Wonderful 30s movie. I love vintage stuff, I even wrote a vintage fictional novel, These photos and recipes are right up my alley. I love them. Thanks for the post!

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