World War II Era Apple Crisp

I’ve been on an apple kick lately, since there are still plenty of fall apples available. I had a few apples in a bowl that were starting to turn, and I wanted to use them up. So I went through my cookbooks looking for a simple recipe where I had all the ingredients.

Favorite Recipes: Save Time and Money!

I pulled out this tiny gem, Favorite Recipes: Save Time and Money that was published by the Lydia Pinkham Medicine Company during World War II. Saving time and money were big issues during the War. Many women went to work in factories while their husbands were away fighting so they were short on time for cooking – something women had not faced before. Food products were rationed which resulted in cookbooks that helped women save sugar, meat, and wheat.

Lydia Pinkham started to be mass produced starting in 1876 as a patent medicine for “female complaints.” The company and its product was wildly popular with women who often couldn’t afford doctors and who didn’t trust their often drastic measures. She was skilled at marketing and one of the hallmarks of this marketing was to have testimonials from actual women who used the product.¬†Of equal interest is the fact that long before others were doing it, Mrs. Pinkham distributed information on menstruation and the “facts of life.”

This recipe book not only advertised the Vegetable Compound, tablets, and other “reliable medicines” it includes recipes for breads, supper, efficient marketing, and kitchen economies to name just a few of its virtues.

Apple Crisp is not a particularly old recipe. Here’s a recipe from 1916 (provided by the Food History Timeline website)

“Apple Crisp”
This recipe requires eight apples (or one quart), a teaspoon of cinnamon, a half cup of water, one cup of sugar, a half cup of flour and five tablespoons of butter. Butter a fireproof dish and fill it with the apples, water and cinnamon, mixed. Work together the other ingredients, mixing them gently with the fingertips until crumbly, then spread over the apple mixture. Bake 30 minutes, uncovered.”
Freeport Journal-Standard [IL], July 20, 1916 (p. 5)

By the 1920s this recipe became more and more popular.

Here’s the recipe from the Lydia Pinkham cookbook:

Ready to go into the oven with the crumbs on top

  • 2 c sliced apple
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 3/4 c flour
  • 1/2 c. shortening (I used butter)
  • 1 c. brown sugar

Put apples in a greased baking dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon, and pour water over this. Work the flour, shortening, and brown sugar together and sprinkle over the apples. Bake in a 350 degree over for 30 – 40 minutes.

Super simple and it tastes great!

Apple Crisp Ready to Eat!

2 Responses to “World War II Era Apple Crisp”

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  1. Bev says:

    Yum! I’ll have to try it! It looks easier than the recipe I use!

  2. Jeannine says:

    Have an old dump on the back of our property and a perfect Lydia Pinkham bottle surfaced after a heavy rain this summer.
    “There’s a Baby in Every Bottle” was a slogan. Lydia was not encumbered by that pesky FDA and truth in advertising laws.
    Love the WWII cookbook!

    Going to the orchard this week or next. I’ll give the crisp a try.

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