Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Nations Homemaker

Ida Cogswell Bailey Allen was once known (at least on the radio) as "The Nation's Homemaker." She  authored over 50 cookbooks the first of which was in 1916. Back in the 1920s she was a food editor at the New York American. (It was renamed the New York Journal-American in 1937) Four years later she broke into radio. She is one off the claimants to the first radio cooking show. In her 1952 book Ida Bailey Allen's Step-by-step Picture Cook Book she wrote:
"It was my privileged to inaugurate and maintain the first radio homemaking school which presented a radio kitchen with real cooking of foods, broadcast over a major network."

It's a short quote.. but she's claiming the title. By 1929 her program "National Radio Homemakers Club" was being heard over CBS. Members could get a membership card and could sign up for her newsletter. It wasn't just cooking tips. She had an orchestra, and surprisingly serious guests including at least one sitting senator Mr. Arthur Capper [R]. the program was broadcast from their New York studios and her program was sponsored by Pillsbury flour, and Royal gelatin.  Her daytime program started at 10:00 AM and was expanded to two hours in 1929. By 1930 it was airing 5 days a week. Topic included quilting, book repairing, Christmas cookies, washing woolens, fashion decorating, and a recipe for fried chicken and waffles.  You can read an issue of her news letter here.

Her program ended in 1932 when she made a very early jump to television on "Mrs. Allen and the Chef."The program does nto appear to have lasted. But Ms. Allen's career did. She was an editor of Good Housekeeping, and numerous other publications. In the 1930s she had a new role speaking about food conservation and rationing under Hoover. She spoke to citizens groups and with defense councils about waste and the use of then non-traditional foods like soybeans.  She was even writing for the Post-Star Newspaper as late as 1949. She died in 1973 at the age of 88.