Grandmother Secrets: Cooking With Crisco And Staying Thin

As the holidays draw near and we gear up to indulge in Grandma’s classic dishes (cheesy potatoes! pumpkin pie! honeybaked ham!), it seems timely to explore a longstanding mystery: if this is how our grandparents ate, how come it’s OUR generation with the obesity problem?

Those black and white photos don’t lie – folks were trim several decades ago. You may chalk it up to nutritious home cooked meals, walking everywhere, etc. Except most Grandparents will tell you otherwise.

They ate greasy burgers, fries and full strength soda at White Castle. They drank frozen juice concentrates diluted with tap water. The “fresh” vegetables were canned or frozen, except in summer. And lots of Crisco, of course – every home had a tub of it. That’s why the fried chicken, fried potatoes, grits, piecrusts, and cakes tasted so good!

OK, so the trimmer bodies of the 50’s weren’t due to more wholesome meals. Let’s take on the myth that we were exercising. Well, health clubs didn’t start until the 1970’s, and even then most women didn’t go. Sweating was unfeminine. Ladies preferred to sit and played Canasta, or read a book or write letters.

Then why are we fatter than our grandparents?

The simple, unvarnished, scientifically researched answer from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is that we just plain eat more. The CDC reports that women today eat 22 percent more than women did in 1971. Go back to 1958 and the number is 30%!

So if over-consumption got us into this mess, why didn’t we all just eat less? Because in the 1980’s, the food business became media savvy and perfected their message. They convinced us that we needed the magical trifecta: eat only foods that are “healthy”, exercise like an olympic athlete and drink loads of water.

Grandma didn’t opt for a kale salad instead of that juicy pot roast with mashed potatoes. She just ate a reasonable portion of the pot roast. So as you’re faced with your own family’s holiday feast, allow yourself to relax a bit and enjoy that Crisco. And maybe play some Canasta.