Reader Harry posted a comment that really got me going this week: Durkee’s Fine Foods used to be a part of the Glidden Paint Company, and (says he) bottles of Durkee’s were handed out as a souvenir to people who toured Glidden’s paint factory in Jacksonville FL.
I had to check it out for myself and found this page which is an unpublished article, complete with authors’ notes to themselves, by Shurtleff and Aoyagi who are much better known for “The Book of Tofu” and other health food classics. Their cites establish that Glidden did indeed purchase Durkee Fine Foods in the 1920s and owned it until the 1950s. There is no suggestion that paint was used in the sauce, or vice versa, but Glidden seemed to believe there was a natural synergy among all coatings, whether on wood or bread, and during the 1930s they operated under the slogan: “Glidden: Everywhere on Everything”.
It was part of the can-do spirit of America in the first half of the 20th century, maybe continuing to the 60s, to think that science trumps all and if it’s ingenious it’s got to be good for you. Some readers may be old enough (I’m not) to remember the shoe store devices that would take an x-ray of your foot with no worry about the risk to you or the woeful shoe store clerk. Another example is Elmer’s Glue, which was proudly made from milk and that’s why there was a cow (actually bull) on the label (and still is, though the product no longer contains casein). Nothing queasy about the back connection that if you can make glue of it, must be some powerful chemicals in there.
With food coatings, the desirable traits are the same as with paint: spread smoothly and evenly with a thick, consistent layer of product. Why would anybody have a problem with that? Today we’re worried about GMOs, cross contamination, and mouse feces in everything. To which Great Grandpa might have snorted: mouse feces? What do you expect? If it’s good to eat, why wouldn’t there be mouse feces?