Vintage Chicago Tribune: Retro Fourth of July recipes for cake, salads, Jell-O molds and more from our archives

Tribune Content Agency

In honor of the Fourth of July, I scanned the past 100 years of patriotic-themed recipes by iconic Tribune food writer Mary Meade for ideas and just had to share these with you.

I am not a talented cook or baker, but I do find retro recipes fun to prepare for several reasons:

1. The ingredients are usually plentiful at the grocery store — and mostly canned.

2. The recipe instructions are usually easy to follow — and, given my skills, thank goodness they are.

3. Each creation is usually a conversation starter — and surprisingly tasty.

So, please let me know if you make any of these items for your gathering — I’d love to see photos of how they turned out! Speaking of photos, thanks to Tribune photographer Terrence Antonio James for a great photo session!

Tomato Spice Cake (1935)

Originally published in the Chicago Tribune on June 19, 1935.

The recipe makes two rather small layers or one generous dripping panful of cake. Frost with a caramel frosting or an uncooked icing made with powdered brown sugar.


1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

3/4 cup canned tomato soup

1/4 cup water

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup nutmeats

1/2 cup raisins


Cream the butter, add the sugar and cream to a fluffy consistency.

Add the well-beaten egg and continue beating. Then add the tomato soup and water mixture alternately in thirds with the sifted dry ingredients.

Beat well, stir in the nutmeats and raisins (part of the flour may be reserved for flouring these if that’s your usual custom), and bake at 375 degrees. (Editor’s note: The original recipe did not include a suggested baking time, but 15-20 minutes is advised.)

Two-toned Corned Beef Salad (1963)

Originally published in the Chicago Tribune on July 4, 1963.

Prep time: 30-40 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients for the vegetable layer:

1 package (3 ounces) lemon-flavored gelatin

1 cup boiling water

1/4 cup vinegar

1/2 cup cold water

1/2 teaspoon salt

6-10 stuffed olives, sliced

1 teaspoon minced onion

1 1/2 cups finely shredded cabbage

1/2 cup minced celery

2 tablespoons diced pimento

2 tablespoons minced green pepper

Directions for the vegetable layer:

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water.

Add vinegar, cold water and salt.

Pour a little of the mixture into the bottom of a 1 1/2 quart salad mold and arrange in it a design of sliced, stuffed olives. Chill until firm.

Chill the rest of the gelatin until it is as thick as uncooked egg white.

Fold in vegetables, pour mixture carefully into the salad mold and chill until firm.

Ingredients for the meat layer:

1 tablespoon (envelope) unflavored gelatin

1/4 cup cold water

1 cup chicken stock or bouillon

1/2 teaspoon grated onion

Dash hot pepper sauce

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard

1 cup dairy sour cream

1/2 cup diced celery

1 can (12 ounces) corned beef or 1 3/4 cups diced corned beef

1/4 cup finely chopped sweet pickles

Directions for the meat layer:

Soak gelatin in cold water for 5 minutes.

Heat chicken stock to boiling, add gelatin and stir until dissolved.

Cool and add seasonings and sour cream.

Chill until mixture is somewhat thick, then fold in celery, meat and pickle.

Pour mixture carefully on top of firm vegetable layer. Chill until firm.

Unmold and garnish with cucumber slices and parsley, if desired.

Colorful Cherry Blueberry Parfaits (1970)

Originally published in the Chicago Tribune on July 4, 1970.

Yield: 8 servings


1 package (3 ounces) cherry gelatin

1 1/4 cups boiling water

1 pint vanilla ice cream

1 cup blueberries

1 can (21 ounces) cherry pie filling

1 cup whipping cream (whipped)


Dissolve gelatin in boiling water.

Add ice cream and stir to melt.

Chill over ice water until partly set.

Add blueberries, reserving some for garnish.

Place a spoonful of cherry filling in each of 8 parfait glasses.

Add alternate layers of gelatin, whipped cream and filling, reserving 8 cherries for garnish.

Top parfaits with whipped cream, reserved cherries and blueberries, if you wish.

Chill in refrigerator — do not freeze.

Christmas in July: Vintage holiday recipes

My search for the grossest-sounding vintage Tribune Christmas recipe led me to something the color of the Grinch’s fur — a bizarre concoction touted in the Dec. 16, 1964, newspaper as “Hot Avocado Pie Yule Delight.”

Avocado Poinsettia Pie

Prep time: 20-30 minutes

Bake time: About 45 minutes

Yield: 8-10 servings


16-ounce package of jumbo refrigerated biscuits

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

10.5-ounce can of cream of celery soup

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1 cup frozen green peas (thawed)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 avocado

1 lemon (original recipe called for lemon juice)

Pimento strips for garnish

Salt to taste


Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Pat down six biscuits to cover the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate.

Slice remaining biscuits in half lengthwise to form skinnier rounds, then cut each round into two half-circles. Place each around the edges of the pie plate to form a scalloped shell.

Sprinkle one cup of cheese into shell.

Heat soup, basil, one tablespoon lemon juice and peas in a saucepan.

In a bowl, combine lightly beaten eggs with a dollop of the soup mixture to slowly incorporate. Then pour the egg mixture into saucepan with remaining soup mixture and stir. Cook about 3 minutes, and then add salt to taste.

Pour saucepan mixture into biscuit shell.

Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, or until the filling appears firm and the biscuits turn golden brown. (The original recipe said to cook for just 10 minutes, but that left the eggs uncooked and the biscuits raw.)

Meanwhile, cut the avocado into halves. Then, slice each half lengthwise into eighths.

Squirt avocado with lemon.

Place avocado pieces on top of pie in a pinwheel or poinsettia design.

Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.

Return pie to oven for 2 minutes to melt cheese.

Garnish with pimento and serve hot.