The Effie Hopkins “Heart Attack Waiting to Happen” Post-war cookbook

As I told you recently, I’m going through a huge pile of newspaper clippings donated to Union Station’s library by the family of Effie Hopkins, a farm wife from North Ogden, whose interests were very broad.


Movie stars, local weddings and funerals, cartoons, random news events and sewing and cooking advice filled two large steel boxes. As I go through these things I am finding some real treasures, mirrors of the time if not actually valuable.


Last time I mentioned a gasoline ration book. This time it’s a recipe for a bacon-wrapped oyster roll.


A couple of things about the 1940s.


People then didn’t eat nearly as much meat as we do today. Even before the war, dead animal was not as common on the dinner table as it is now, especially for the lower income types.


Most food was home-made, so it was better for you. Pork, not beef, was the more common meat on American tables. Fast food meant the chicken was outrunning you as you tried to chop off its head.


And when people cooked, they flavored darn near everything with bacon.


Also, in 1945, the nation was still in the throes of wartime rationing. I’m finding a lot of recipes that stress they save on sugar or fats, both of which were rationed. There’s recipes for foods designed to survive being mailed to troops overseas.


And there’s recipes designed to really throw caution to the wind when you do manage to score.


Like this one.


The Oct. 17, 1945 article from the Salt Lake Tribune is headlined “Bacon and Oysters Make a Super Dish.”


Reflecting the wartime rationing, the article says “a pound of bacon still is something to lock up in the wall safe with grandmother’s diamond neckless. A totally useless bit of information is that it rates six red points per pound because only an FBI agent can ferret out a pound these days. But over the horizon happy days will come again and there’s no law against imagining.”


Red points are ration points. You exchanged points to buy the meat, and getting points was a chore. So, in that context, this recipe is more than imagining. It’s downright decadent.


To make the stuffing you mix one pint of Blue Point oysters, chopped, with 3 cups bread crumbs, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, dash of pepper, 1 tsp scraped onion, and 2 eggs slightly beaten.


Spread your pound of bacon out on waxed paper in a solid sheet, spoon the stuffing mix, roll up and bake at 375 degrees for an hour until the bacon is brown. Garnish with tomato quarters and parsley and serve.


After dinner, notify EMTs that everyone is in danger of a heart attack.


But I bet it tastes good.