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.