1940s Archive

Food Flashes

Originally Published August 1947

Angel foods, the real heavenly kind, snowy white, soft as down, tall and lithesome, are going places by mail, traveling in the Wearever aluminum pans in which they are baked. These are big cakes, the thirteen-egg kind, nine inches in diameter, four inches high, a size to serve twelve, the price $2.50 postpaid.

The pan is yours, or return it for refill; the next cake costs but $1.25. Address your orders to Rekul Pan-o-cake Company, 114 West Main Street, Urbana, Illinois. If you live in New York City, buy the cake at Gimbel Brothers, same cake, same price.

How can a delicate angel food go traveling long miles and not toughen, not shrink? That's the secret of baker Jackson M. Luker. He seals the cakes in their pans to keep for ten days to two weeks at average temperatures. When kept in the refrigerator at 35 degrees, they will keep fresh for six months.

The cakes have been selling since 1939 throughout Illinois. Now the war's over, the business is expanding. The plan is to license the cakes to retail grocers, later to bakers, but for now you can order direct from the maker.

Jackson Luker made his “cake-to-keep”discovery when the Kroger chain opened a market across from his shop and offered a cut-rate angel food at 39 cents. Luker saw the cake sign go up and said to his wife,“I won't be a chump and put my cakes out. They cost me more than 39 cents to make.”He was so hot under the collar he didn't turn the cakes from the pans, just let them stand, thirty-six cakes a total loss. In a couple of days, the Kroger foo store had turned its interest from angel-cake bargains to prunes. Luker, with his neck feathers down, dug a cake from the pan. He would start baking again.

The cake turned out a dandy, goo enough to eat; the Lukers served it for supper. Each day the baker tried another few of the cakes; the longer they stood, the better they tasted.

His angel cake is the meringue type similar to the meringue topping on a pie. The first day, you know, pie meringue cuts easily; the second day put in a fork and the whole top may lift off. But the angel food adhering to the walls of the pan had kept the air in those millions of cells created by whipping. Even without a cellophane wrapper the cakes held close to their original volume and kept beautifully tender.

Luker has an inventive mind an started dreaming ideas for selling angel cakes by mail. All he has done for the last ten years, he claims, is fiddle with “the angels.”Now he has them down to perfection, with a patent on the package, on the machine that ties on the cellophane topping, on the depositor which places the dough in the pan, and on the pan-washing equipment.

Today the Luker's cakes are selling 400,000 a year and could sell that a hundred times over. But materials remain scarce. This year the bakery will have enough sugar and pans to make 500,000 cakes and no more. During the war when aluminum pans were at a premium, a $10 deposit was put on each pan to insure its return. Some women were so crazy for a good cake pan that they kept the container an let the $10 go galligan.

Just before the war, Mrs. Luker's fudge cakes were put on the market. A white cake, with a thick fudge frosting, the ratio, one pound of cake, one poun of fudge topping, and one ounce of nuts. But these were forgotten in the sugar-short years. They may return with the autumn.

Trader Vic's Trading Post is a California landmark located in Oakland across the bay from San Francisco, a restaurant outstanding on the West Coast, its atmosphere South Sea, its foo Polynesian. Now Trader Vic is packing a few of his exotic foods for retail stores. Comes his Javanese Salad Dressing, a strange stuff indeed, made of rice an vegetable oil in combination with wine and pineapple vinegars, soya sauce in the mixture, sugar, egg yolks, tomato, Worcestershire, the final touch the herb medley of the Trader's designing. Pour that into an avocado half-shell—the effect is pretty utter. One thing about this dressing is you can't make it better because you can't make it. You haven't what it takes, we mean the ingredients such as rice oil and some of the odd seasoners.

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