My Big Fat Summer Post

Summer's approaching (although it really doesn't feel like it here, especially since I still have to wear a light jacket in the morning and evening -- what's up wit dat?) so I thought I'd kickoff the season with a nice big, fat post featuring some vintage 1950's goodies of mine. When you think of summer, outdoor cooking and grilling barbeque first come to mind, right? Right! So here's some fun (and a few quirky) items that I've collected throughout the past couple of years. And honestly, I don't know how to grill. I just love to collect these things for the crazy drawings found inside 'em. Can you blame me? (Click on each to view larger.)

The following booklet was found glued to the inside of the August 1959 issue of Better Homes & Gardens magazine, as part of a series. Some nice illustrations attributed to an "M. Trinque":

Summer Sociables 1

Summer Sociables 2

Summer Sociables 3

Summer Sociables 6

Summer Sociables 8

Covered Barbeque Cooking: a booklet that came with the Weber Covered Barbeque Kettle. No date or illustrator given. I wasn't digging the cover too much here, but the cool lettering was what piqued my interest. Luckily, there were some pretty cool illustrations on each page, alternating from red to yellow. Here are a few of the better ones:

Covered Barbeque Cooking

Covered Barbeque Cooking: yellow

Covered Barbeque Cooking: red

Suggestions for Outdoor Cooking, from Royal Chef Grills. No mention of copyright date or illustrator. Dad's the only one with a nose in this one piece. Mommy looks...strange. And yet...a knockout. They're outside in the woods but Mom still has high heels on:

Suggestions for Outdoor Cooking 4

Big Boy Barbecue Book: A Picture Treasury of Barbecuing. From Tested Recipe Institute, Inc. Copyright 1956, 1957. No illustrator credit given:

Big Boy Barbecue Book

Big Boy Barbecue Book: Barbecuing at Home

Big Boy Barbecue Book: various illustrations

And of course, this one's for all you vegetarians out there (there's plenty here in Portland). Mmmm...umm! Enjoy!

Big Boy Barbecue Book: Meat!

Next is: Outdoor Chef, a cookbook for grilling outdoors, copyright 1958. No illustrator credit given. A very peculiar cookbook because of the wooden cover, front and back. Probably a nice touch for the outdoorsman, I'm assuming. Also, a better chance of the cookbook not getting burned so easily if just a regular paper cover? Who knows. It's hinged on the front there, with leather binding. Nice. And cool spot illustrations to boot:

Outdoor Chef

Outdoor Chef: open

Chefs in Outdoor Chef Cookbook

The following are two metal presentation trays from the 50's, each consisting of the same illustrations, just rearranged differently. This was obviously a set (I've seen other items with the exact same illos). If I was your average, everyday obsessive collector, I'd probably have the entire set by now. But I have a life, you see. (Modeled with grace and style by everyone's favorite hula girl.)

Fun metal food tray

Another fun metal food tray

And now, I'm happy to end this massive summer outdoor cooking barbeque post with....The Grillette! A magnificent mini grill complete with briquettes and charcoal lighter fluid, all neatly packed up tight and ready for on-the-go outdoor grilling. Perfect for that "I haven't got the time or money for a big grill" husband who prefers to cook his choice steak on miniature grilling stands. A pretty nifty idea, probably best used in impromptu camping situations I'm guessing. Anyway, this sweet little doo-dad set me back a mere $10. Nice. It's now a part of my office decor. Behold:

The Grillette

Look, it's handy:
It's handy

Close up of Grillette cover

Check it out -- when you pull off the cardboard cover, it looks like this:
Grillette sitting

Then, presto! Instant grilling!
Grillette standing

Here's what you get:

The Grillette: the entire set

To see more of The Grillette and more illustrations from the various cookbooks mentioned above, be sure to check out my Vintage Outdoor Cooking Flickr set. Fresh! Hot off the grill!

Okay, that's it! Go have fun in the sun, kids. Don't burn yourself now, ya hear?


  1. Wow, love those grillustrations! For a second there I thought you had something like Kramer's coffeetable book. In glancing quickly through the images I thought you had a book on grilling that folded out into a grill. Now that would be something!

    The ironic thing is that I just took a whole pile of old cookbooks to Goodwill yesterday. They didn't have such great illustrations, mostly just sickening photos. Though there was one on grilling that had a great pattern on the inside covers. I thought about scanning it before I took it, but alas I didn't.

  2. wow!! thanks sooo much for the inspiration...these are awesome!! why can't they do this anymore...why not have a well desinged cook book with awesome illustrations in 'em? sigh...still workin out the platform details...work is getting a bit hecktic..but we'll see...

  3. Wow! You have so many amazing collections! What a great way to gear up for summer! I know you and Andrea must be in shock over how non-hot the weather is in Portland! Hang in there!

  4. awesome!
    my wife will be very happy too

  5. You have no idea how much of a trip down memory lane this was! We had cleaned out my grandparents basement once and found a whole bunch of stuff like this but I have no idea where all of it went. Somethings you should hold on to! lol


  6. Amazing stuff. Love the type. I need to get a chef's hat, though...SWEET post, pally-boy!

  7. these are such fun designs. the trays are fantastic! this is the sort of stuff that just washed over me when i was a kid and i didn't realize how great it was until it was gone... Great post!

  8. So in other words, if you're in Portland, drop by Ward's for good barbecue? Awesome.

  9. Your big fat Summer post is as juicy and tender as a filet mignon. Deeeeeeelicious! Can you pass the A-1 sauce?

  10. These are excellent examples of time gone by. I wish that I could get back to yesteryear and get back to a more simple time of fun and grilling. I love the whole fish on the grill.

  11. Great post, Mr. O-Matic! I've been looking forward to it since you mentioned you'd be doing a big summer post... but Wow... awesome job -- thanks for all your hard work!

    What a shame that so many of these fab 50's cartoon artists will probably never be identified :-(

    I have a sneekin' suspicion a lot of them worked in the Chicago art market - where packaging and design was the main course being served up sizzlin' hot off the grill.

    The illos in the stunning wood-ensconced "Outdoor Chef" remind me a little of this ad ... the head shapes and little pointy noses especially. That ad is signed "Frayne" but alas, that's all I can tell you.

    Again, great work, Ward! :-)

  12. This stuff is pure GOLD! :)

    Absolutely gorgeous and SO inspiring!... I think I'm in love with just about every illustration you've shared with us here... SO good!

  13. if they still made cookbooks like this, then maybe i'd cook more often ... or maybe i'd just read cookbooks more and still not cook.

  14. Those illustrations from Better Homes & Gardens were a HUGE influence on me. Okay, not the high heels at the picnic, but that style is so...comfy. Like an old couch. An old couch that still smells good, though.

    Thanks for sharing.

  15. i'm so late on the commenting here....but i LOVE these illustrations. i married up and now i have a better computer with a scanner and your posts are inspiring me to post some of my old cookbooks!

  16. Now you're starting to scare me. I have the same Big Boy BBQ book along with a host of other 'eye-watering' cookbooks! The cover kills. With all of the meat on the grill, it kind of makes you wonder where mommy is!