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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Frosted Foods: 1952

Frosted Foods: 1952

1952. "Grocery store display of frozen foods." Kodachrome by Charlotte Brooks or Arthur Rothstein for the Look magazine article "How Hot Are the Freezer Food Plans?" View full size.

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Someone has left a package of frozen raspberries on top of the cooler, to the right of the Kool-Aid.

Photographer, locale and purpose unknown?

Just speculating here, but the purpose of this photo may have been a "proof of performance" the grocer may have needed to submit to vendors of how well-placed their products are in his case. Or, it could have been taken by a vendor's rack-jobber (delivery man) to show how he placed the products in this one grocer's freezer. Or, it could have been taken by either a vendor or the grocer to show HOW to pack the case.

My dad, the best amateur photographer in his office with the equipment to support it, was frequently sent out to grocery stores and the company thrift stores to shoot displays of Dolly Madison Cakes and the breads of the old Interstate Bakeries Corp. I've found dozens of pictures just like this in his old archives. Except they were shot in the cakes & breads aisle, not the frozen foods section.

[The purpose of the photo was to illustrate an article in Look magazine. - Dave]


There's a display of the original 5 cent package of Kool-Aid, that you could dump in the palm of your hand and lick it up, if you didn't mind the sourness.
Kale is popular in the south, but I doubt that frozen kale would be.
Frozen orange juice was a big improvement over the canned Donald Duck orange juice.

Frosted foods

became frozen foods after people started asking what flavor the frosting was.

Until the frozen food era lima beans were not commonly eaten outside the southern US (where they were called butterbeans).

Another guy!

I also like Lima beans. As well as all of the veggies shown here, and more.
In fact, I believe beets are the only vegetables I do not like.

Please, nooooooooooooooooo...

....yellow wax beans! A tool of the Anti-Christ if there ever was one. And limas a close 2nd. Altho THESE limas are even more unappetizing-looking because the florescent lights have bleached out the inks of the display. Food pics + offset printing inks + florescent lights = bad,bad looking food display over time.

I'm the guy

Who keeps the lima bean market afloat. I seem to be a minority.

Snow Crop juices

I wish they still made juice combinations like the ones on the right side of the picture: orange & grapefruit juice. Mmmmm.

Lima beans, kale, Brussels sprouts

Well I'm from the Midwest and have never ever seen frozen kale or any other braising green beyond spinach, but I remember the frozen boxes of limas and sprouts, both of which my father loved and I hated. Oh the dinner-table set-to's we'd have over those two (and stewed tomatoes). He usually won. Whatever happened to wax beans? I can't remember ever seeing them in the frozen vegetable section. Of course today, the frozen veg section is about one tenth the size of the frozen pizza, potato, pre-breaded and deep-fried what-have-you, and upscaled TV dinner microwave section. No, make that one twentieth. Somewhere, at some point the supermarket went horribly horribly wrong.

A clue from the kale?

Long before it became trendy elsewhere, kale was a staple vegetable among the Portuguese population in the New England states. Combined with the fact that the manufacturer of the refrigeration unit - a bulky item likely to be sourced semi-locally if possible - is in New Jersey, and the prior comment about Snow Crop being seen in Northeastern stores, I wouldn't be surprised if this photo is from a supermarket in New England.

[Hill refrigeration units have been sold nationally for many years. -Dave]


Multiply the prices here by ten and compare to what frozen food costs today. Looks like about 150-200% of current prices.

Snow Crop

I remember Snow Crop orange juice growing up in in north Jersey back in the early 60s. Maybe it was a regional brand. After seeing the name I remember they used to advertise something called "Snow Crop Orange Samoa" whatever that was, probably a blend.


I was surprised to see kale. The way people go on about it today, you would think it was some newly discovered exotic vegetable.

Budget Conscious

I know my mom would have taken the two boxes of Birdseye Cut Green Beans for 39 cents instead of the Snow Crop Cut Green Beans at 24 cents a box. The nine cents saved went along way: a loaf of bread was probably about 15 cents.

Keeping the logo

Despite many corporate ownership changes, today's Birdseye logo is pretty much the same as it had been in 1950.

The name has nothing to do with a bird's eye, the logo notwithstanding. It comes from the company founder, Clarence Birdseye.

My choice

Of all these foods pictured, the one my eyes keep returning to, longingly, is the succulent prime rib roast with roasted potatoes and onions, just below and right of the grenadine, but they could keep their lima beans. One knows that one is getting old when their strongest craving is for a boneless, butter-tender prime rib. I really need to get out more.


Is that a bottle of Angostura Bitters we see peeking out next to the grenadine? The bottle looks almost exactly the same as it does today, (and maybe even as it has since 1824).

Teddy Snowcrop needs him a stiff drink!

Teddy was the Snowcrop mascot, a cartoon polar bear with a smarmy smile featured in their TV ads. What I am wondering is whether the presence of those frozen Brussels sprouts (hideously malodorous when cooked) is inhibiting the sale of important stuff like cocktail mix and grenadine syrup?

Inverted Lima Beans

The graphic showig a huge pot of lima beans has been installed upside-down.

Perhaps it's not an error. I know I'd want to dump them out too!

Yaaaaaah! Birdseye! Run for your life!

*Ahem* In the mid-1960s, Mom would occasionally buy Birdseye frozen mixed vegetables in some sort of creamy sauce. At that age, I wasn't big on vegetables, much less mixed vegetables, and even much less with cream sauce. Nearly half a century later, I still refuse to buy Birdseye.

What a difference

I was born in 1954 and started a family very late. So, today at 58, I get to tell my 9- and 10-year-old sons stories about the "Good Old Days." The boys find it difficult to believe me when I tell them that my mother was able to feed our entire family of five on about $20 a week! Today, we spend over a thousand dollars a month to feed our family of five. Granted, people earned a lot less back in those days, but somehow things seemed an awful lot simpler.

Frozen Strawberries.

So THAT'S why someone invented Strawberry Smoothies -- about the only way to properly handle the mess of mushy strawberries once you tried to defrost them and use them.

And while everyone knows who Birds Eye is, I don't recall ever seeing "Snow Crop" brand frozen vegitables.

Snow Crop

Bought by Minute Maid for a 'cool' $40 million.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Dec 1, 1954

Just a Guess!

I could be totally wrong, but I am guessing the location might be somewhere in the NY-NJ area.

It looks like the emblem on the refrigeration case says: Hill Refrigeration, Newark, NJ. There still is a Hill Refrigeration Co. on Pennington Avenue in Trenton, NJ.

Of course, these cases could be shipped anywhere, but many businesses buy fixtures locally to save on freight costs.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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