For the suffrage tea I made a recipe from Suffrage Cookbook, published in 1915 by the Equal Franchise Federation of Western Pennsylvania, called "marshmallow teacakes." This recipe intrigued me for a few reasons: first, it's from a suffrage cookbook, but it also uses some spiffy new popular tech from the 1910s--prepared foods.
|a domestically-focused suffrage poster, 1915
|Cover of the first suffrage cookbook, 1886
My recipe comes from a more contemporary cookbook for 1915, our year of choice for the September rally (it's really been less than 100 years since women could vote). In addition to popular recipes for the early 20th century, it includes two truly fabulous satirical pieces: "Pie for a Suffragist's Doubting Husband" and "Anti's Favorite Hash." To give you a taste (pun intended...) here's the latter:
"Anti's Favorite Hash
(Unless you wear dark glasses you cannot make a success of Anti's Favorite Hash.)
|1 lb. truth thoroughly mangled
1 generous handful of injustice.
(Sprinkle over everything in the pan)
1 tumbler acetic acid (well shaken)
A little vitriol will add a delightful tang and a string of nonsense should be dropped in at the last as if by accident.
Stir all together with a sharp knife because some of the tid bits will be tough propositions."
|cover of the 1915 cookbook
Which brings us to the recipe I chose. Here's the recipe from the book (which you can check out in full over at Project Gutenberg):
Arrange marshmallows on thin, unsweetened round crackers. Make a deep impression in center of each marshmallow, and in each cavity drop ¼ teaspoon butter. Bake until marshmallows spread and nearly cover crackers. After removing from oven insert half a candied cherry in each cavity.
These are excellent with afternoon tea."
|tin for Blue Bird Marshmallows, early 1900s
|a coupon for "Melrose Marshmallows" from the Melrose Historical Society
|sheet music for the Candied Cherries Two-Step, 1911 (via)
|marshmallow teacakes at center front, at or suffrage rally and tea
Next, I needed candied cherries...but I couldn't find any! It turns out most stores only sell them around Christmas, and trying to find them in September was a lost cause...so I had to cheat and make my own. They're not nearly as vibrant or well-shaped as manufactured ones, but they tasted just fine. (I picked up a bunch at the store for next time, but you can also order them online if you give yourself time.)
To be honest, these were a little too sweet for me, but they went over better than I expected at the tea (I mean, they're basically just marshmallows and cookies so what's not to like?), and I was pleased to add something so perfect for the occasion. Here's my final recipe--it's a bit different than the original, but I think the spirit remains.
Marshmallow Teas, adapted from Suffrage Cookbook (1915):
standard-size marshmallows (on the small side is better than large)
tea biscuits (I used Nabisco Social Teas, but round* Rich Tea biscuits would be even better!)
Preheat oven to 200F.
With a small knife, hash one long side of each marshmallow so that the powdered coating is broken up, and the sticky inside can meet the biscuit, and make one hole in the opposite side (I cut a small "+"). Place each marshmallow on a tea biscuit, hashed side down. Bake for 2-3 minutes, or until marshmallow softens and begins to melt, attaching to the biscuit below. While marshmallows are still soft, place a candied cherry into the hole on the top side. Cool completely.
So easy you can do it and still have time to march!
|they're not the prettiest...but they tasted good!
For more on suffrage cookbooks or Miss Curtis' Marshmallow Creme:
The Melrose Historical Society
"The Trojan Horse of Women Suffrage," Rare Books Digest
"How Suffragists Used Cookbooks as a Recipe for Subversion," NPR
"Hiding Spinach in the Brownies," Social Movement Studies
A list of suffrage cookbooks at the Old Girl Network
and weird but also related:
Somerville's Fluff Festival, honoring the invention of Marshmallow Fluff (but they don't mention the Curtises)