In the spirit of the spate of predictions that 2009 will be the “year of beer and food,” I can’t resist adding some historical perspective. (*1)
In a piece written for a brewing trade journal, Julia Norwood noted the a happy “tendency” that had “gained favor since the return of legal beer,” namely the “use of this foamy beverage” as an ingredient in cooking. Bottled beer, she explained, added “savoriness” and a “unique and distinctive flavor” to all kinds of dishes. “This ‘new deal’ in cooking,” she reported, had “gained particular favor among some of the leading hotel chefs” in the United States. (*2)
And if not, the Owens-Illinois Glass Company, intended that it would. Norwood was the director of the Modern Science Institute, an Ohio-based marketing firm. The Institute, and Norwood, had been hired by Owens-Illinois to persuade consumers that bottled beer was best?
Why bottled beer? Because American Can Company had recently announced it had developed a metal container suitable for beer. Canned beer would be easier and less expensive to ship than bottles, so O-I needed to persuade consumers to stick with bottles.
Over the next year, O-I sponsored a series of “beer recipe announcements” for use during radio broadcasts. “The publicity given bottled beer through its frequent mention” during the radio segments, Norwood reported to brewers, “will naturally produce beneficial results for the entire brewing industry.” (*3)
Many brewers agreed. It made no difference to them whether people bought beer in bottles or cans, just as long as they bought beer. The owners of Griesedieck Brewing in St. Louis hopped on the cooking-with-beer bandwagon inn the summer of 1935, when it ran a series of ads featuring a recipe for German Beer Soup.
Gluek Brewing, located in Minneapolis, joined the effort with newspaper ads that featured beer-based recipes. “My dear madam!,” read one ad. “May I present to you Burgomeister’s Apple Fritters, a triumph of the old-time art of cooking with beer!” (*4)
*2: Julia Norwood, “Now It’s Beef Steak Cooked With Beer,” Brewery Age 2 (March 1934): 64.
*3: “Beer Recipes Requested By Many Radio Stations,” Brewery Age 3 (March 1935): 83.
*4: Edwin O. Welde, “Gluek Presents Old-Time Art of Cooking With Beer,” Brewery Age 3 (July 1935): 76.