The Spryford Wives: Recipes from Digestible, Commestible and Cult-endorsed Spry Shortening

Meet country-cooking mastermind, Jenny Wheeler and her devoted, deliriously happy husband Calvin. And why is Calvin so gosh-darned happy? Because he lives in Spryford, the one town where every wife knows how to use Spry vegetable shortening in all her baking and frying! Or if she doesn't, she soon will...

You know, that's one of the funny things about Spryford. Women come to the town-- career women no time, no interest, or no talent for baking-- but a few days with Aunt Jenny and, why, they're like a whole new person... Smiling perpetually, baking like crazy, and with a strange whirring gear-like sound when they walk...

Hm. Odd.

Well, today, we're going to take a look at this dandy little cookbook as Aunt Jenny spreads helpful hints about the goodness of Spry to take over-- er-- share, share with the women of the world.

I know James Lileks did a hysterical send-up of this booklet in his inimitable Gallery of Regrettable Food, but I hope folks won't mind my doing an entirely different treatment on it. When I found this booklet in an antique store in Butler, Pennsylvania for just $1, it seemed way too good not to play around with myself.

Yes, friends, let's watch as Aunt Jenny reprograms-- er, talks about Spry-- with everyone in the neighborhood, from new brides (it's better to initiate them when they're young and malable) to the postman. So come with me today as we check out Jenny's digestible, commestible, strangely close-knit and unnaturally euphoric world of Spry shortening.

Calvin: How did you ever decide what recipes to put in this book of yours, Jenny? Why, you must know thousands?

Jenny: Well, Calvin, I knew folks would want receipts for every day-- not too fussy or hard on the pocketbook, but good-tastin'. These sure are, - an' so digestible even a child can eat 'em. For they're all made the Spry way.

Jenny. She's folksy, isn't she?

That's what seems to draw them in. A sweet old lady with a round, kind face and a single-minded love of Spry Shortening. The photo on the wall was the real Jenny. The original Jenny. Before the transformation to the early animatronic model you see now.

The reason she remembers thousands of recipes is, her databank is quite large considering the technology available then. Sorting out a few recipes for this book was a matter of seconds.

Jenny: "Good tastin' food makes a heap of difference to any family, doesn't it ladies? And that's why you'll set such a store by Spry. It makes everythin' taste so grand...
"So get a can of Spry today... You'll say Spry blends with other ingredients faster'n you can say Jack Robinson!"

"Faster'n you can say Jack Robinson." Yep- Aunt Jenny was programmed with over 2,000 tried-and-true homey cliches. That was Calvin's idea. He wasn't sure what his ideal woman would say if he were listening --- though he was pretty sure it wasn't "Calvin, are you coming home late again?" Or "Calvin, are you ever going to pick up your own socks?" Or "Calvin, I was thinking about taking a trip to visit that Loovree in France and seeing DaVinky's Mona Liza."

So he just pulled together a nice assembly of pat phrases, witticisms and cute country mispronunciations to give it a real, legitimate feel.

Calvin knew, the moment Jenny went from thinking about seeing paintings in that Loovree, to baking for him 24/7, that moving to Spryford and... improving Jenny as they had... had been the best decision he'd ever made. Why, he almost can't stand the joy of it. Does any man have a right to be this happy?

Jenny herself never observed a change in her sentiments. She's been programmed not to. Nope, all she wants to do is share her knowledge about the wonders of Spry with women of the entire world. It's a driving need.

Here you can see some of the other ladies of Spryville who have also been.... improved.


And Calvin, well, he wants other men to experience the marital and culinary bliss he's now enjoying. And it all starts with the magical, mind-blowing ingredients in that first can of Spry...


Here we see young Elmer's mom hasn't been assimilated yet...

Elmer's mom is new to Spryville. She moved there to work on the Spryville Gazette, using her moxie in her job as investigative reporter. But soon Elmer will be delivering her this kind housewarming gift from Aunt Jenny down the road... A can of Spry. And then, well, we'll just see if she still thinks baking cookies is too much work.

Calvin wasn't expecting that condescending "husbands are like children" attitude to seep in, even after the Spry transformation. But the other husbands indicate it's a glitch in the programming they haven't been able to correct. They assure him it adds realism, in case outsiders start poking around. Besides, it's a small price to pay for happy little homemakers, and baked goods whenever they want 'em.

Jenny's programming runs a bit amock sometimes. So strong is her need for Spry Evangelism, it sometimes extends into Spry promotion to some of the old bachelors of Spryford. Of course, Spryford is a family town, so no one really wants these strange old bachelors roaming around, anyway. Why didn't these fellows just settle down and have a family like they were supposed to? Well, a little Spry, a little tweaking of the Spry program, and why, perhaps they could be... improved... too.

Here we see Aunt Jenny in the first stages of... helping... one of the new brides of Spryford. Soon the jibes about this girl's biscuits will be a thing of the past. And so will that novel she's been struggling to get published in her spare time. Yes, soon she won't be upset anymore by rejection letters, by potential agents and publishers looking down their noses at her beloved work. No, soon she'll finally be completely content, fulfilled-- just by baking with Spry.

It's an act of mercy, really.

Postman Cooper was there when Jenny was first... improved. He'd always thought she was a right handsome woman, and now that she's really a part of Spryford, why, he thinks she's the cat's pajamas. He stops by every chance he gets, to see her in action.

Calvin, meanwhile, has gained 40 pounds since his early days married to Jenny. But it's no problem, it's not as if Jenny will ever complain.

And lastly, here we see Jenny helping a couple of newlyweds start their marriage off right, with Spry intervention. In just a week, Jenny and the good citizens of Spryford help turn this bride into yet another example of Spryford perfection.

Yes, the way to the heart is through the stomach. And anyone in Spryford will tell you, the first step to the stomach, is through digestible, commestible and 100% cult-endorsed Spry.

  • Did you check out this last week's Treasure Box Wednesday, where we discovered the treasures of the Great Outdoors? Click here.

Otherwise, I hope to see you for this coming Wednesday's post! Hope September is treating you well so far.


Anonymous said...

Another menacing old lady with a can of faux Crisco! This is a great post.

Da Old Man said...

Jenn, you know you left so many unanswered questions.

WTH is Aunt Jenny up to?
Well, Calvin, I knew folks would want receipts for every day

Did receipts have an old timey meaning I didn't know about? Was Spry the baking equivalent of crack? Was Spry the Amway of the 20's? She used the word receipt a couple times, so I'm wondering what sort of shenanigans Aunt Jenny and Calvin were up to.

Why is she Aunt Jenny, yet he's not Uncle Calvin? Scandalous.
And Postman Fred was after her cookies. Oh, the dirty underbelly of Spryville.

This post needs a serious follow up to see exactly what type of scam Calvin and Jdenny were involving the fine townsfolk of Spryville in. This is way too Peyton Place~ish.
I'm hoping Elmer did a follow up tell all.

Anonymous said...

Lidian- I imagine you probably have a few Aunt Jenny Spry cookbooks in your own collection. She did get around!

Da Old Man- Aunt Jenny was using "receipts" instead of recipes to throw unsuspecting newcomers to Spryville off the trail that she was actually part-robot. She used it to seem homespun and folksy-- "look, she can't even say recipe." Meanwhile, she was preparing to take over the world, one can of Spry at a time.

Why, he isn't Uncle Calvin, we don't really know.

Darla said...

We voted the other party, strictly a Crisco family. Equal opportunity hardening of the arteries tho.

Great post!


Anonymous said...

Did you notice how demonic Aunt Jenny looks in the quip abotu men being children when it comes to licking the spoon. It really did spook me!!!!!

I have one question, so before this wonderful Spry came along the food was digestible? how exactly did that work. LOL

Anonymous said...

Darla- We were a Crisco family, too. I didn't know about the wonders of Spry until now. :)

Chyna- There's something very strange about that whole Aunt Jenny phenomenon... That's fer sure. And no, I don't know what the digestibility dealio is either. Presumably standard non-vegetable lard was of issues for small children? That's what it sounds like, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Funny you bring up children. Did you notice there was only one child featured in this little handbook for the Spry brainwashed? I think Aunt Jenny has them chained up in the basement eating non-digestible pie crusts and hard biscuits. Spryville is losing it's luster that is for certain! ;)

I don't think those are Aunt Jenny or for that matter any of the town folks natural teeth. Hmmm, what exactly is in that Spry stuff? From the grins I'm thinking the name spry is actually about the little blue pills carefully crushed into those digestible pie crusts.

Anonymous said...

Chyna- It's certainly a possibility. Or else they haven't quite been able to figure out how to transform the kiddies into Spryville perfection yet, so have to keep them contained.

In the next Spry cookbook, who knows? Little Shirley Temples could be tap-tap-tap-dancing their way into our hearts as they tell us about Spry.

Anne K. said...

Can you believe this, I have a copy of this same little cookbook. I used to laugh hysterically at it when I was a kid. Years ago I made sure to save it out of my mother's things. What a treat!

Jenn Thorson said...

Anne K.-- I do, indeed, believe it-- and it's a good one! :) What an unusual concept Spry had, to make their cookbook virtually be a comic book.

Though I worry how broad Calvin's grin is! :) Great you were able to save it!

Lana Gramlich said...

OMG, that's just SOOOOOOOOO bad! I love your commentary--the "handsome woman" part almost had me ROFL! I also loved the way one of the frames emphasized the digestibility of Spry. You certainly wouldn't want to use something that can't be digested, like, say...motor oil! *LOL*

Anonymous said...

Lana- I know-- the digestibility thing is really funny-- it makes me wonder contextually what was available at the time as a competing alternative that WASN'T easily digestible. What was it that was making people sick in their baked goods and frying? Maybe I'll stumble on it someday.

misselaineous said...

OMG!! I bought that cookbook @ a church rummage sale a couple of weeks ago...thought it was just a neat old cookbook...but with your insight, it's funnier than a lot of stuff that's on TV. Thanks for the fresh outlook! *elaine*

Anonymous said...

Elaine- It really IS a neat old cookbook! I'm actually surprised that there seem to be a few copies of it floating around here and there-- I guess that attests to both Spry's former popularity and also how nifty the little cookbook is. It's hysterical you just found one about the same time I did.