Today, if something is “cheap“, it’s undesirable, may not last long, of poor workmanship, or poor quality. Throughout the American Victorian era, “cheap” was an admirable, positive, desirable trait. To our Victorian ancestors, “cheap” meant frugal (in the best way possible), affordable (also in the best way possible), inexpensive, low cost.
Cheap Cool Desserts, June 24, 1888
On June 24, 1888, the Saint Paul Globe of Saint Paul, Minnesota, published this short article containing three recipes for the benefit of housewives. Newspaper sections containing recipes, fashion, stories filled with Victorian morals, etc. were common throughout the United States in the mid- to late-Victorian era.
Now that we’ve qualified that “cheap” is a positive modifier, something women looking for recipes (or fashion or a butcher) would find appealing, I’ll share the article itself. “For Small Pocketbooks, Cheap Cool Desserts — Snow Mound, Princess Pudding, and Lemon Snow.”
What is a gill?
Victorian recipes are readable by today’s cooks… mostly. Measurement units are sometimes a bit historic. Gill? And what is a yelk?
According to The Inflation Calculator, the approximate prices listed for each recipe in 1888, is given as follows (Note: 2017 is the latest year offered):
What cost $0.15 in 1888 would cost $4.15 in 2017.
What cost $0.20 in 1888 would cost $5.54 in 2017.
What cost $0.25 in 1888 would cost $6.92 in 2017.
If you bake desserts or treats from scratch, or make candy, you’ll realize these cold treats are quite reasonably priced. I believe my homemade cheesecake recipe can cost more than $20, and my homemade Sandy Turtles recipe (I share recipes without hesitation!) makes these puddings look “cheap”/affordable, indeed!
Recipes Enjoyed in Mountain Home, Colorado, August 1887
Occasionally, I come across a tidbit in a historic newspaper that catches my eye– and I want to include it in a book. The opening scenes of my soon-to-be-released novel are in the hot months prior to autumn. A cool treat like these would make an ideal sweet to serve in Jane Vancoller’s Tea Room. Jane’s guests might stop in for luncheon (“lunch” was not yet a word– except for slang which was frowned upon) or for a light repast. Some might simply be looking for feminine conversation and a rest. Others might be stopping for refreshment while in town with husbands who spend time at the blacksmith, feed store, and tobacco shop where pausing to visit with male friends and associates everywhere he went. The short list of places “good women” could stop and visit in a similar fashion was short indeed. A Tea Room was a new concept by Jane’s day and grew in popularity into the twentieth century.
My upcoming new release, Unmistakably Yours (9-13-2018), is set in my fictional town, Mountain Home, Colorado (and is title #8 in my Holidays in Mountain Home series).
Blog Articles Sharing Historical Elements within Unmistakably Yours:
A Few Related Articles:
Second link, above, shows each book in the series, listed in numerical (and the year the book takes place in) order
Or, here is each book in the series, Titles 1 through 8:
Note: Some titles are short novellas, some are longer novellas, and some are full-length novels. See individual book descriptions for details, including which are Christian (ALL are “sweet” and “clean”.)
Copyright © 2018 Kristin Holt LC