Sent: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 3:52 PM
Subject: Pudding search
I stumbled into your website today and it gave me hope that you can help me.
While I am not searching for a recipe, my brother, Dave, and I are in search
of a particular boxed food item that we vividly remember from our childhood.
You seem to have a great deal of knowledge about ingredients from the "good old days",
so I thought I might toss this mystery your way.
Dave and I both have a fond childhood memory (in the late 1940's or 1950's) of
opening up a box of pudding that we found on Mom's shelf and finding a "flavor pill"
(either butterscotch or chocolate) inside, which we threw away. It was supposed to
be added to the vanilla pudding as you cooked it to flavor it, but he and I liked to
eat the pudding out of the box in its powdered form. We can remember hiding in the
old chicken coop in the back yard (minus any chickens, of course) and eating it with
a spoon..not the easiest thing to do because when it hit your mouth and mixed with saliva,
it thickened up. But it was yummy!
The problem is that both of us are writers. Dave has already published his memoir,
entitled "Rapscallion Summer", by David Michaelson, and I am in the process of writing my own.
Dave is not a historian, so he's more concerned with the readability of the tale than with
its susceptibility to fact-checking. I went on a search for "pudding flavor pills" and
even did extensive research on the history of boxed puddings and I have not found anything
at all that mentions these flavor pills. Nevertheless, he and I are absolutely certain that
they existed and that we tossed them (or perhaps just the one) into the trash and ate the
pudding from the box.
Have you ever heard of this? And, if so, can you tell me which company made these puddings
and when they were manufactured. It has occurred to me that this may have been an experiment
that failed and was eliminated so that it has disappeared completely from history.
I enjoyed reading your site. Hope you don't mind my asking you about something that's not a
recipe, although it is/was a food.
Often the non-recipe questions turn out to be the most interesting. I did a lot of research on
your question, and I believe that I have found the answer. There have been three major brands
of pudding mixes sold in the U.S. - Jello, Royal, and My-T-Fine, plus a rennet custard mix
called "Junket". All of these are still being sold, although Jello is the only brand that you
can reliably find in any store around the country. The others are a bit more regional.
There have been some smaller, local brands that have come and gone over the years, such as "Py-O-My".
I did not find any pudding mix that mentioned a "flavor pill", although I did find references to
lemon and key lime pie filling mixes with a "flavor pill." The route to finding a pudding mix that
has or had a "flavor pill" involved expanding my thinking to include not only "flavor pill", but
also "flavor tablet" and "flavor capsule". By doing so, I found that Royal Brand pie filling mixes
contained a flavor capsule, particularly in the lemon and key lime flavors. The capsule was a gelatin
capsule containing lemon oil or key lime oil to give the pie filling, which was mostly flavored with
artificial flavorings, a more authentic lemon or key lime taste.
See this old newspaper ad: Google News
Continuing my search along these lines, I found this statement: "Magic Flavor Capsule (Royal Pudding mixes)" at Foodtimeline
While it's not exactly definitive proof that Royal was the brand that you recall, it is the only product
specifically called a "pudding mix" that I could find that had any mention of containing a flavor capsule.
The rub is that, although Royal pudding mixes are still available, they do not appear to any longer
contain the "flavor capsule". I suppose Royal found other ways to enhance the flavor of their pudding mixes.
Royal and My-T-Fine are both now part of the Jelsert company: Royal
As for products primarily marketed as "pie filling mixes" rather than as pudding mixes, some are still
sold that use flavor capsules. One is "LEM Pie Filling", sold at Wal-Mart. This company markets its
product as PIE FILLING/pudding mix rather than as PUDDING/pie filling mix. It's been around over 100 years,
although it was likely a local brand until fairly recently. It was originally called "Mrs Morrison's LEM".
I realize that you said your memory is of chocolate or butterscotch pudding and that my finding points
to lemon and key lime pudding. I realize that it may be an unwarranted assumption that because Royal
used a flavor capsule in their lemon and key lime puddings that they must have likewise done so in their
chocolate and butterscotch puddings. However, this is all I have to go on. Royal was the only one of the
three major brands of pudding mix that verifiably used a flavor capsule at all. I could not find any
mention at all of any brand of pudding that verifiably used flavor capsules in their chocolate and
butterscotch flavors of pudding. Therefore, Royal is probably the best bet. The pudding mix from your past,
if it was not Royal, must have been a local brand of which there is little or no mention on the Internet.
In days gone by, such local brands were even more common than today, and they came and went without making
much of a mark outside their own small market area – sometimes just one state or just one region of the country.
As soon as I read your latest posting and saw the "pudding that used a flavor pill" I knew EXACTLY what the
requestor was talking about - McNess Pudding and Pie Fillings. My aunt's in Pennsylvania used to use those when
a pie was needed quickly for an event or multiple pies were needed as some of the cannisters that were sold by
McNess could make 6 pies worth of filling. I remember Chocolate, Key Lime, Coconut, Banana and especially Lemon
that you could bake to make Lemon Meringue Pie with (the flavor was MOST intense on the Lemon one - it was my
Mom's favorite when she went to PA relatives).
The Bad News now - I contacted McNess to find out more both online and also telephoned a representative.
I gather that their manufacturing concern stopped a few years ago and they farm out places that will make items
as per their specifications. Unfortunately McNess it seems cannot find another manufacturer that can make
(or perhaps make economically enough) the old style pudding/pie fillings with the flavor capsule like they
used to make. They have been out of stock of it for a year or more.
For those that miss old products - remember that the door-to-door salespeople of the old era from the
1920-1980's are now pretty well Gone-With-The-Wind. McNess and Jewel Tea were both large companies as well
as other home products like Fuller Brush, which is still around, but not making as many items as they used to,
or unfortunately had to farm out items overseas to have made. The only ones that I've heard are doing well in
the home visit and delivery business are SCHWANN products for groceries/frozen meals. With America getting an
big increase in seniors, home delivery is starting to take off once again.
Sorry, this is one request that neither Uncle Phaedrus or I can therefore resolve, except the knowledge that
the item did once exist (from about the 1930's - 2012) and is no more.
Mark in NJ
Hello, fellow food detective:
I have found several people in my circle of friends who grew up in California. The consensus is that it was
Royal pudding and that it was, indeed, the lemon pudding that we remembered. My brother, Dave, says that at
one time we "sampled" the flavor capsule, expecting something wonderful, only to spit it out because it was
horrible. That fits the idea of lemon quite well. Out in California, we never experienced the McNess brand,
but Royal pudding were, and still are, on the market, but without the "magic flavor capsules."
P.S. Thanks for the information, Phaed!
Sent: Sunday, January 26, 2014 3:33 AM
Subject: Patio Brand Frozen Beef Enchilada Sauce
I can get 'lost' on your website for hours, but there is one item I've hoped for and have never found.
Years ago, before they were bought out by Banquet, Patio Brand frozen Mexican foods sold a tray of 8 beef enchiladas
which had a delicious sauce! The sauce was a deep reddish brown, it definitely did not seem tomato based.
Does anyone remember this item and have any idea how to duplicate this yummy sauce?
Pam, St. Louis
Sorry, I had no luck with this. No luck with a copycat. This being a commercial product makes it more difficult.
I found an old Patio newspaper ad which described the enchiladas and said they came with “chili gravy”.
The ad didn’t call it “enchilada sauce", but rather “chili gravy”. There is a recipe for Tex-Mex chili gravy
(no tomato products) here: Key Ingredient
I’ll post this on the site, too.
Thank you for such a quick reply!!!
Now that I read it described as 'chili sauce' I can see it as that....it just really had a distinctive flavor,
apparent I suppose, by the fact that it has stayed in my mind for so long!
It occurred to me that it might be a 'kissin cousin' to mole', though I know that more by reputation than experience.
I'll review and consider the gravy recipe you suggested.
Thank you again!
Sent: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 3:36 PM
HI would like to know if you have any Italian sponge cookie type recipe.
See below. If you mean savoiardi or Italian lady fingers, see here:
Italian Sponge Cookies
1/2 lb. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
5 c. cake flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
Vanilla or anise flavoring
Cream butter, adding eggs, 1 at a time, beating well each time. Add sugar, flour, baking powder.
Put in refrigerator to chill for 1 hour. Take size of dough as desired and roll in powdered sugar.
Put cookies on cookie sheet and chill again for 2 hours. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.