Some of you may have just got up to begin the annual, November turkey ritual. Stumbling to the kitchen to put the bird in the roasting pan and pre-heat the oven. A few foggy-headed fiddlings with salting and peppering and then a somnambulistic slog back to bed and a few more hours of blessed sleep before the onslaught to turkey zero-hour truly begins. By the time you rise, the house already has started to smell like Thanksgiving - that warm, baking bird aroma that hangs in the air in spite of the fact the bird's still frozen to its core.
At one time Armour was a player in all things meat. They sold steaks, they sold poultry, and they sold potted meat product. If it was meat, Armour sold it somewhere and that included the centerpiece of the Turkey Day feast. As I look at this ad, I can't help by think how time's turned up our expectations both in presentation and quantity.
Today no poulterer worth their salt would dare advertise a bird that hadn't been brined, glazed, smothered in exotic spices and citrus, professionally photographed, and PhotoShopped to the point it bore no resemblance to its former self. It's a byproduct of the 24 hour Food Network cycle. Now a simple roasted turkey can't really be simple, it's got to be spiced, or plumped, or boozed, or deep fried, or whatever before it can be considered a success.
The second thing I noticed is how small the bird in the ad seems. I mean it looks practically chicken-like there on its simple platter with cranberry tartlets and a few wilted greens for a garnish. According to the Atlantic, in 2013 the average weight of the American thanksgiving turkey passed 30lbs, big enough to eclipse the platter and encroach on the peas in Armour's paltry poultry picture. I'd be surprised if the bird shown in the 1947 ad weighed in at more than ten pounds after being stuffed. Then again, the average American probably weighed a third as much back in 1947 what with the Great Depression and four years of war rationing their dinner choices.
All of that said, what will I be doing today? Getting up at the crack of dawn to set thirty pounds of turkey flesh in the oven. I just have to decide whether I want to do Wild Turkey Honey-Glazed or Five Spice Rubbed.