Saturday, February 27, 2016

Pasta point of no return.

As our journey through the cookbooks and pamphlets I inherited* continues, we come across a famous old brand of pasta I don't see much anymore:


Creamette is a weird name for a brand of macaroni, but it goes back to 1912. It sounds like a dairy product. The story of the name, according to the text of a 1947 lawsuit, goes as follows:

The president of Mother's Macaroni Company, Mr. James T. Williams, in searching for a trade-mark to employ on the new quick-cooking macaroni product, coined the word "Creamettes," and on or about the 15th of August, 1912, Mother's Macaroni Company began marketing said new type of macaroni in cartons bearing thereon as its trade-mark the word "Creamettes", and it then began advertising and pushing it as quick-cooking macaroni.

Williams's big idea was a thinner walled elbow macaroni that would cook faster. The other idea was to put artwork depicting a girl's face on the box, which you can see in the depictions on these big money-saving coupons found in the recipe booklet.

The girl was Margaret Linstroth, Williams's daughter, who passed away in 2004 at the age of 89.

Requiescat in pace.

It would appear that Creamette became the name of the company, while as late as the 80's (or whenever this booklet appeared---there's no date) that "Creamettes" specifically referred to their elbow macaroni. That doesn't appear to be the case anymore, judging from the Web site.

Worse, the girl is gone.
I don't remember Creamette around when I was a kid. We were a Ronzoni family. Every family in New York was a Ronzoni family. Ronzoni was made in Queens. Then Hershey, which owned it as part of the curiously named Hershey Pasta Group, moved the facility to Virginia, in 1993. It had been operating since 1950. And yet New York and its environs are still Ronzoni country.

At that time, Borden owned Creamette, having bought it in 1979. Since this booklet looks more 80's than 70's to me, I'm guessing it was a Borden creation.

I first heard of Creamette when it was a sponsor of the Imus in the Morning show. Imus always said to "look for the babe on the box." Well, no more.

Borden no longer owns Creamette, nor does Hershey own Ronzoni. Hershey divested that pasta group and it became New World Pasta; they acquired several Borden brands, including Prince and Creamette, in 2001, when Borden got out of the noodle business. New World is owned by Spanish food giant Ebro.

Everything is owned by somebody, but that's a blog for another time.

I always look for the worst recipe in any of these booklets, but this one looked tough; all of them were pretty standard macaroni dishes, nothing really startling. Then I spotted this:

Kind of an elbow macaroni pancake with peppers in it, pinto beans slopped on top. Mind you, there's nothing here I dislike, and I think it might be an excellent dish. It was just the funniest looking thing I could find. Let me know if you try it.**

And if you're worried about getting a load of carbs in your diet, look at the little article about the health benefits of pasta up there next to the coupons. Complex carbohydrates are released slowly into the bloodstream! Pasta produced flat readings on glucose levels!

So that's the Creamette story. The Creamette site says they are found in 37 states, but you can see why New York might not be one. When one company owns all the pasta, why would it compete against itself?


*Previous episodes here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

**I should warn you that the recipe does not appear on Creamette's current Web site, but I have actually seen it online, quoting this very booklet. So someone out there likes it. 

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