Friday, June 10, 2011

The Electric Soup Kitchen

[Life, March 11, 1940.]

What, you may ask, is the Heinz Electric Soup Kitchen? It is (or was) a gimmick to sell canned soup. From the text accompanying this little panel:
“Eating out” is like “eating in” when your favorite counter serves your favorite soup — by Heinz! For every bowlful of hale and hearty Heinz Home-style Soup is brimming with irresistible, homemade flavor Heinz chefs capture by careful, small-batch cooking. Soda fountains, luncheonettes and tea rooms from coast to coast are equipped with the Heinz Electric Soup Kitchen that facilitates prompt, speedy service of these delectable dishes. An electric soup cup heats them in two minutes!
The premise of this ad — that “eating out” should taste like “eating in” — bugs me in its appeal to the preference for what’s already familiar. If I were the man in the hat, I’d feel a bit demeaned when a customer ordered Heinz soup and not one of my delicious hamburg or liverwurst sandwiches. Sure, it’s not like I make the meat myself, but it takes a heck of a lot more skill to make a good sandwich plate than to heat up a can o’ soup. But if your idea of “eating out” is the same can you could’ve had at home, I’ll get it for you right now. Heinz soup —it’s grand! Would you like crackers with that?

[The Electric Soup Kitchen would have made a great name for a fleetingly famous rock group. I think of them as having their first (and last) LP, Spoonful (1970), on Buddah or Liberty. Yes, it was spelled Buddah.]

comments: 6

Geo-B said...

I think someone (the bassist?) pulled some of their bootlegs into Fresh Cream (of Mushrooms), 1986.

Elaine Fine said...

Perhaps it was Bob Shieffer who posed for the ad (before he got his news gig).

normann said...

A sensible restaurateur makes soup from leftovers (bones, trimmings). Even Wendy's fortifies its chili with uneaten hamburgers (there is always at least one burger on the griddle at all times, guaranteeing no-waiting freshness to anyone who might walk in the door).

Elaine said...

Good grief--I wonder if that tomato soup I once had at Java House was heated in Ye Olde Heinz Soup Kitchen?

We had the 'eating out' menu choice discussion last night, as my husband nixed some items because I make those dishes at home. Verdict: gnocchi (daughter); Saltimbocca (Hubby); Shrimp Brindisi (moi.) All delicious.

Diane Schirf said...

Last night a friend and I went to Medici on 57th, where the soup special was Tuscan tomato. I said, "Wouldn't it be funny if 'Tuscan' tomato was Campbell's out of a can?" My friend thought it would be classier if it were Progresso. I upped him with Annie's, then claimed I could hear a can opener in the kitchen at that very moment.

The soup was good, by the way.

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks, everyone, for the comments. Soup’s on!