In the 1950’s eating habits changed in America and so did the location of meals. Families no longer gathered at formal dining room tables. Instead they ate crowded around that new exciting invention – the television.
You see World War II was over. The troopers were back. It was time to relax, buy that home in the suburbs, and enjoy the endless free programs appearing in stunning black and white on “the tube”.
The shift from the dining room to the TV centered den changed food forever In America. Convenience and ease of eating replaced lengthy preparation and treasured family recipes. “Frozen” or “boxed” now meant modern.
Central to the promotion of these new food forms were the commercials aired every fifteen minute throughout the new entertainment programs.
One example of how influential commercials were during this period can be found in the history of the now classic clam dip.
Originally called “Clam Jam” by such food writers as Helen Evans Brown, the beloved friend of James Beard, the recipe as we know was first promoted on the Kraft Music Hall show, a well-known and popular TV variety program.
To housewives longing for an opportunity to be creative in a kitchen rapidly being overwhelmed by processed food, it was a hit – easy to make and easy to enjoy by the TV.
In fact, the recipe proved so popular canned clams in the New York City area sold completely out 24 hours after the recipe premiered on TV!!
That simple recipe is now an American classic and still enjoyed on Super Bowl Sunday and in an elegant cocktail glass as a vintage bar treat. But why not lose the canned clams and use fresh minced clams. The taste difference is amazing!
The Original Kraft Music Hall Clam Dip
(with the addition of fresh clams)
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 7-oz fresh Taylor clam meat, minced
- 1/3 cup clam juice
- 1-1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 minced garlic clove
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon fine ground white pepper
- Steam and mince clams.
- Drop the garlic clove into a dry, running, food processor.
- Let the garlic chop fine.
- Stop the processor and add all the ingredients EXCEPT the CLAMS.
- Cut the cheese into five or six chunks.
- Process the mixture until it is well blended.
- Put the mixture to a bowl and fold in the clams.
- Refrigerate until ready for use.
- Serve with potato chips or fresh vegetables.