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So. Much. Jell-O.

By Meghan Overdeep
December 11, 2019
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There’s nothing quite like the nostalgia of an old cookbook. Though sadly, decades of use, spills, and neglect mean that few stand the test of time.

Sure, getting your hands on a well-preserved copy of beloved classics like Charleston Receipts and Tea-Time at the Masters will cost you, but they aren’t the only vintage cookbooks out there waiting to transport you to culinary days gone by. OpenCulture recently highlighted a free and easy way for hungry history enthusiasts to access tens of prized vintage cookbooks—no bookstore visits required!

The Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture at Duke University's Rubenstein Library has made 82 items from the Nicole Di Bona Peterson Advertising Cookbook Collection available for free download. The collection includes an incredible assortment of culinary guides (hang tags, inserts, recipe cards and guides, cookbooks, operating instructions, owner's manuals and other promotional materials) dating back as far as 1851.

We’re particularly fascinated by the one titled Jell-O: America's Most Famous Dessert which includes recipes for such rare delicacies as Pimento Jell-O Salad and Maple Walnut Jell-O. And you don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate the cultural significance of a cookbook from WWI called Best War Time Recipes which includes recipes for foods to be made with flours other than white flour.

Jell-O Cookbook
Credit: Duke University's Rubenstein Library

Whether you’re scheming to bring a long-forgotten recipe to life this holiday season, or just want a glimpse at hundred-year-old social norms, we’re sure you’ll find what you’re looking for in this rare culinary treasure trove.