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Free or low cost recipe pamphlets and booklets have long been another popular way for food companies to supply home cooks with new ways to use their products. Manufacturers of cooking and baking ingredients began offering small recipe booklets published in the late 1880s.
Most of the cookbooks in my Mother's recipe drawer were from promotional cookbooks like these. Many were from mail order offers on boxes or labels or published in magazines and newspapers. Some were given away free at grocery stores, fairs or festivals.
One of my favorites is a "Spry" cookbook published in the 1930s. Spry, a solid vegetable shortening made by Lever Brothers is no longer made, but many other brand names that have been advertising their products by publishing promotional cookbooks for decades... through the great depression, the wartime era, and the fabulous fifties are still alive and well today, and they still want to give us their recipes.
Brand name food manufacturers are not the only links in the food chain publishing great promotional cookbooks. Fruit and vegetable growers, from berries to watermelons... artichokes to Vidalias, have websites with recipes that need what they grow. Many state agriculture organizations have published outstanding cookbooks with large recipe collections, information about ripeness and determining freshness, facts about nutrition, storage and handing tips and much more. Some also include colorful charts demonstrating different varieties of their fruit or vegetables. Many have special kid's pages with fun recipes, coloring and games.
Stores that sell the brand names also have cookbooks. Nearly every supermarket chain offers free promotional cookbooks and cooking tips. Most cookware and small appliance manufacturers have cookbook collections tailored to the kind of cookware or appliances they make. A few restaurants also offer free recipes. A popular sporting goods giant has a promotional cookbook full of fish and wild game recipes on their site.
With today's technology promotional cookbooks can be taken to a personal level. With the advent of Self service Publishing from Author, Inc. anyone with a promotional cookbook idea and the will to promote it can produce a professional looking product.