Main content

F.L. Toppin collection of branded product cookbooks and recipes, 1920s-1950s


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

The recipe books in this collection were produced by several prominent food manufacturers during the first half of the twentieth century. Three of the books were published by companies specializing in the manufacture of baking powder: Calumet Baking Powder Company, Rumford Chemical Works, and R.B. Davis Company. Both Calumet and R.B. Davis touted the superiority of their alum-based baking powder over the cream-of-tartar formula manufactured by their rivals, particularly the Royal Baking Powder Company. These claims highlight the longstanding feud between American baking powder companies during the early twentieth century, during which time rival firms advertised the purity and effectiveness of their own powders while citing the health risks of their competitors' products. In the 1931 edition of their cookbook, the Rumford Chemical Works chose to focus on the health benefits of the phosphates in their baking powder.

Several recipes laid in the

Rumford Complete Cook Book were clipped from Wilmington, Delaware, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, newspapers between the 1920s and 1950s. Among these clippings there is a postcard dated 1922 and addressed to Miss F.L. Toppin of New Castle, Delaware. It is likely that Toppin collected these booklets and clippings and created the handwritten recipes in this collection.

Made in Chicago Museum website, "Calumet Baking Powder Tin by Calumet Baking Powder Co., 1913" (accessed November 29. 2017) Heckers Ceresota website, "History of the Ceresota Brand" (accessed November 29, 2017) Information derived from the collection.

This collection consists of cookbooks, recipe booklets, and newspaper clippings with household hints incorporating brand-name products, dating from the 1920s to the 1950s.

The cookbooks and recipe booklets in this collection were produced by large food manufacturers to dispense household hints and promote their products. Most of these materials outlined standard weights and measurements and specified level measurements of flour and other ingredients. The manufacturers focused heavily on their products' purity. The Calumet Baking Powder Company claimed that their product was "chemically correct, as it is made by the most modern methods," while the makers of Ceresota Not Bleached Flour noted that they had "never yielded to the temptation to 'doctor' their fine flour." A pamphlet produced by the manufacturers of Alka-Seltzer provided an overview of the five years of clinical research conducted on their product. Although these cookbooks and booklets were created to promote a branded product, not all of the recipes included the baking powder, flour, or corn starch being advertised. Many booklets added "household hints" about laundry, stain removal, and housecleaning.

This collection also includes a group of clippings and notes that were laid in the

Rumford Complete Cook Book. Most of these items were clipped from Wilmington, Delaware, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, newspapers and provided recipes for pickles, preserves, pies, and other dishes. There are also several newspaper clippings with information on sewing, cleaning, and gardening. Among these items is a postcard dated 1922 from Atlantic City, New Jersey, addressed to Miss F.L. Toppin of New Castle, Delaware. It is likely that Toppin clipped these recipes and created the handwritten recipes and grocery lists in this grouping.

Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes (upright manuscript boxes)


Processed and encoded by Elizabeth Jones-Minsinger, November 2017.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2017 November 30
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce isrequired from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Calumet Baking Powder Company, "Reliable Recipes," 20th Edition, approximately 1921-1925.
Box 1 Folder F1
Ceresota Flour, "Household Hints: 205 Other Tricks and Tips", approximately 1933-1935.
Box 1 Folder F2
Alka-Seltzer brochure, approximately 1940s-1950s.
Box 1 Folder F3
Lily Haxworth Wallace, Rumford Complete Cook Book, 1931.
Box 1 Folder F4
R.B. Davis Company, "Davis' O.K. Cook Book", approximately 1920s.
Box 1 Folder F5
Clippings and notes laid in Rumford Complete Cook Book, approximately 1920s to 1950s.
Box 1 Folder F6

Print, Suggest