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January 1, 2022

40 Terrifying Vintage Recipes From 1973 McCall’s Great American Recipe Card Collection

McCall’s was a monthly American women’s magazine that enjoyed great popularity through much of the 20th century, peaking at a readership of 8.4 million in the early 1960s. From 1973 through the early 1980s, the magazine created the Great American Recipe Card Collection “capturing the spirit of America through its recipes” by bringing “together the famous dishes… from the 50 states.” It was created by the editors of McCall’s and Random House.

The collection consisted of a plastic recipe card case featuring a bald eagle behind a red, white and blue shield surround by a plentiful food bounty. There are twenty four sections that each had twenty four recipe cards which became 600 cards in total. On each section divider card there is the title of the section, a little illustration pertaining to the theme in the top right corner, a full color photo on the front while on the back was a little blurb about the section’s theme. Lastly there was an index booklet that had a quick reference for all the recipes in the collection. These were available starting in 1973 all the way through the early 1980s.

There were two ways to obtain this collection. The first was to send the card found in the newspaper and McCall’s magazine to Random House. In return you would get the Bicentennial recipe card case, the 24 divider cards and the first set of twenty four cards called “Our Rich Heritage” for a free 14 day trial examination. If you liked the card and wanted to keep going, then you would pay one dollar for the initial set and then get sent the rest of the cards one by one and eventually in small groups at a charge of one dollar per set.

The second way was through your local grocery store. There would be a display of these cards and once a week another set would be added. The recipe card case came free with the purchase of the first set and the dividers came free with the second set. Again each card sets were one dollar each and by the end one would have paid $24 for the whole set.


  1. I think I must be weird! there's 2 or 3 i'd try

    1. That Chicken Polynesian looks great. I'd say there are at least 6 I would try. I can't imagine anyone who thinks a banana split would be "terrifying". On the other hand, apparently making things out of aspic or gelatin was apparently still big, and that is terrifying.

  2. There are some tasty meals interspersed with the yucky stuff.
    What is weird about minestrone soup? Curried meat balls? We do that with lamb, not beef - we love curry.
    Chess pie? Yum
    Corn dogs are terrifying? That's communist talk LOL

  3. A number of these dishes are still made example Chocolate Mouse,
    braised lamb w/o the eggs,
    Chicken polynesian (an asian sweet and sour sause dish)
    The chili pie has no pie crust it is all hamburger 60% and beans with chili seasoning (Chili is generally made wiht alot more sauce, but this would be meat lovers chili)
    Hearty vegetable soup split pea kale spinach and a white meat)
    Sausage and red cabbage this would go over potatoes German sweet-sour)
    (Progresso Minestroni soup is sold in every supermarket today it is an Italian vegetable and pasta soup)
    (The Banana Split is still sold 3 scoops of different icecreams whipcream nuts and a chocolate and strawberry sauce over 1 banana split lengthwise)
    (Chess pie chocolate mouse, walnuts and raisins what is not to like?)
    Crabmeat and mushroom bisque)
    (Frozen fruit salad is cottage cheese and chopped fresh fruit, a little lemon juice so the fruit does not brown, sweetened probably with some pineapple juice)
    (Hatian rice ring Ceole rice, with hatian vegetables meat and sauce)
    Perfection fruit salad it has cabbage coleslawed in it this is quite good
    there are a number of other good things here.
    The pancakes probably had sourcream and cinnomin in it.
    Beef tougue is a salt brined beef not all that different in taste from cornbeef, the meat slices better as it has a fine grain and corn beef can be stringy.

    Had this person tasted samples blind folded she would have like almost all she is mocking except some of the period crazy jello molds. lime jello was big and bad.

    there was an article showing nothing but jello creations these were real bad many with regular mayonaise mixed inedible back then and today, though the coffee jello might be hit today but it looks to light.

    The person who

  4. "Terrifying".... I do not think this word means what you think it means. If you discount the repeats, I wouldn't be hesitant to try over half of these recipes. And half a dozen or more are completely normal fare. I think the author is trying too hard to get clicks.

  5. I think the 'terrifying' part has more to do with the photos than the actual recipes. These photos have the ambience of a murder scene.




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