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The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan: Classic Diet Recipe Cards from the 1970s Paperback – May 2, 2006
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Several years ago, while dutifully helping clean out her parents' basement, Wendy McClure struck comic gold when she discovered an intact and well-preserved collection of Weight Watchers Recipe Cards from 1974:
They were neatly arranged in their own plastic file box. Plenty of the dishes seemed normal enough, but as I flipped through them, some of the recipes began to alarm me. And then I found the card for the Rosy Perfection Salad. I fell over. I laughed so hard I started coughing, and I fell back on the floor and I waved the card at my mom, who just rolled her eyes. 'Can I please have these? Please?' I begged. 'What do you want them for?' she asked. 'To cook?' 'No,' I said. She let me have them. I think they might have been my grandma's, but she never copped to actually buying them. Nobody else did, either.What McClure unearthed were astonishingly grim, unintentionally hilarious recipe cards (sample dishes: Aspic-Glazed Lamb Loaf and Snappy Mackerel Casserole) containing no nutritional information but illustrated with eerie photos clearly staged by a props department not averse to self-medicating. Compelled to share her discovery with the world, McClure posted the cards on a website, framing each with her own side-splitting and appropriately warped comments. The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan--a titled borrowed from one of the myriad improbably named recipes contained within--unleashes the entire god-awful collection. No review can quite capture the horrors of the recipe cards or the genius of McClure's riotous quips. Suffice to say these are milk-through-the-nose, tears-down-the-cheeks funny and a striking reminder of just how bent the 1970s were. Worth the price for the Molded Asparagus Salad and the Stuffed Apples Ganges cards alone. --Kim Hughes
About the Author
Wendy McClure holds an M.F.A. in poetry from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She is the author of I'm Not the New Me and the creator of the online journal Pound, as well as the humor site Candyboots. She is a columnist for Bust and a regular contributor to the website Television Without Pity, and her writing has also appeared in Glamour, Chicago Sun-Times, and New York Times Magazine, among other publications.
Top customer reviews
Most (if not all) of these recipes came from glossy and colorful, yet extremely unphotogenic "Weight Watchers Recipe Cards" that were supposed to be both slenderizing and delicious. I can imagine that the success of anyone dieting using these cards was largely due to loss of appetite. Sample recipe titles selected at random include: "Sloppy Joes Manila" (which is the only Filipino soul food recipe I have ever seen,) "Crown Roast of Frankfurters" (which may well be the most ridiculous looking dish ever made,) "Piquant Salmon on Toast" (I'm not even going to tell you what this looks like,) something called "Frozen Cheese Salad" (which doesn't even conceptually make sense to me,) and "Fluffy Mackerel Pudding," to which words can't begin to do justice. Who, exactly, thought the three words "fluffy," "mackerel," and "pudding" could ever be used as the title of a remotely palatable dish no matter what order they are listed in? (It is worth mentioning that it is garnished lovingly with sliced hard-boiled egg, for extra temptation.)
Truly, this is a book of gastronomic nightmares that is comparable only to "The Gallery of Regrettable Food" (which I also highly recommend.) If you are serious, and I mean really serious, about losing weight, buy this book and make these dishes religiously: if you do so you will likely be veritably skeletal in no time flat.
This is an utterly brilliant, yet haunting, book.
And, yes, someone will make fun of things we do now 30 years from now. I'll buy those books, too. If you can't laugh at yourself, then you need to reexamine the life you're living and try not to take things too seriously! If you have a mom who may have made any of these recipes way back then, buy this book for them as a stocking stuffer. They'll probably enjoy it.
which are so horrific as to be mind-boggling, and captioned them with sharply funny, mocking descriptions of the "food." Some of the photos pretty much speak for themselves. What can you say, really, about "Surprise Chowder"? And can you guess what "Cabbage Casserole Czarina" is? Do you even want to know? Aren't you dying to try "Fluffy Mackerel Pudding"?
One of my favorites is "Jellied Tomato Refresher." There's a picture of some...creepy red goopy stuff decomposing in glasses, which are placed, mysteriously, in front of a clock. Wendy writes: "Yes, let's have these in BRANDY SNIFTERS. Let's just tip our heads back and let the chunks in. The time you spent eating these is time you'll want back at the very end of your life. That's why they're served with a clock."
You have got to get this book! Get a bunch of them to give away! Makes a perfect gift for anyone with a sense of humor.