Cooking the Books

The non-essential cookbooks every chef should have on their shelf.

Betty Crocker
Recipe Card Library

In 1971, Betty Crocker published its first Recipe Card Library. A complete set, which could be collected piecemeal via coupons or purchased outright, consisted of 648 cards and came filed away in a mustard-yellow box.

Today, these iconic cards—photo on one side, recipe on the other—appeal as much to our sense of humor as to our taste buds. Betty Crocker’s recipes date from a time of outlandish culinary innovation: Artificial colors were in, conventional divisions between sweet and savory were most definitely not. If a food item could be suspended in gelatin, frozen, molded or creamed it was, and flamboyantly so.

But in the 1970s, Betty Crocker’s Recipe Card Library was a kitchen countertop icon that reflected radical changes in American society....

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