History Lesson {Recipe: Root Beer Float Popsicles}

My mom taught me a valuable lesson when I was younger. “Kristen… you’ll always be able to tell the best recipes in a cookbook by the wrinkles and splatters on the pages. The worse the page looks, the better the recipe. You’ll know exactly what recipes the cook turned to time and time again by the looks of the pages in their cookbooks.”

Sure enough, I could always flip to my mom’s favorite buttermilk biscuit recipe in one of her cookbooks because it was coated with flour and fingerprints. The page with her favorite banana cream pie recipe was the one with spatters of dried filling and oil spots from the lard in the crust. By flipping through each of her cookbooks, I could find the recipes that were most important and used by her… simply by the look and feel of the pages.

I remembered my mom’s advice when I went through a cookbook collecting phase. I’d head out to estate sales and auctions looking through the cookbooks, soaking up the history that was told by the messy, torn and soiled pages. I’d get insight into the life of the previous owner just by paging through those treasured books. It was a different kind of history I was learning…a lesson I would never learn in school.

A few months ago my friend Mary had an Academy Awards party. When I arrived she pulled down a book and handed it to me. It was a black, well worn agenda book from 1947, stuffed full of recipes. Come to find out, this black book was where her husbands grandmother pasted recipe clippings she would come across from newspapers, magazines and cookbooks. The party was no longer the focus of my attention. I found myself a spot on her couch and poured through the recipes in this book… snapping pictures with my iPhone every now and then of ones that caught my interest. Hundreds and hundreds of recipes and 50+ iPhone pictures later, I came up for air. Mary’s husbands grandma would have been one hell of a food blogger, I know that. What an incredible collection – notes in the margins, splatters on the pages – so much history on the pages of a  little black book.

This first recipe I tried from my many snapshot’s of Mary’s book was these popsicles. They seemed so modern for clippings that old. Since it was touted as the “World’s Simplest Recipe” I knew I had to give it a try.

What pages are the most splattered in your favorite cookbooks?

Recipe: The Worlds Simplest Recipe – aka Rootbeer Popsicles

  • 1 can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 12-oz cans of soda pop (we used Root Beer)
  • 1/2 cup RealLemon brand lemon juice
  1. Be sure ingredients are added in this order… Add condensed milk, soda pop and RealLemon to a bowl. Stir.
  2. Fill “Passion Pops” maker (I have no idea what that is, so just used normal popsicle mold), cap and freeze solid.
  3. To release pops from mold, hold briefly under warm, running water, twist caps gently and pull out.
  4. Store the remainder of the mixture in the refrigerator for the next batch of passion pops.


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  1. says

    I love it when a cookbook is splattered because it says you have used it over and over again – perhaps someone could create a splatter button for the blog post we could put on when we cook from someones recipe?!

  2. says

    You know the recipes are good when they are worn with spills, etc. My grandma’s cinnamon roll recipe is torn, brown, with vanilla on it. It is our favorite recipe:)

  3. says

    We can apply this to all areas of life, can’t we?

    At least that’s what I tell myself about my wrinkles and brown spots!


    Who wants boring & perfect? All worn & loved works for me! :)

  4. says

    I’d love to be able to look at a cookbook like that! How fun. Unfortunately most of the used cookbooks I’ve gotten look as though they have not been touched. These sound delicious, I can’t wait to try them.

  5. says

    I’ve never heard that but you know, it’s true! The handwritten recipes I have had for eons or the favored cookbooks all have the telltale marks of a cook’s touch. Thanks so much for sharing!


  6. says

    Your mom is right! I can always easily reference my favorite recipe for just that reason-wrinkles and splatters. You know the upside to that? The book always opens right to the most loved pages. :)

  7. says

    Wow. Those look wonderful. Of course, anything with sweetened condensed milk just has to be good! :)
    I’ve got lots of cookbooks that look just like that one. Dirty pages=good recipes.
    (I’m liking the idea of the angel food cookies!)

  8. says

    What a great story. And I agree with everyone else it’s true! I know all my favorite recipes have stains and splatters on it! I don’t love root beer, but root beer floats are so good!!

  9. says

    love, love, love collecting old cookbooks for that very reason . . . gives me goosebumps to know that someone was reading that book and felt that was a recipe worth making . . . stories!

  10. Penny Wolf says

    This was a lovely piece and so true to many hearts. By the way, you can put that recipe in an ice cream maker also.

  11. says

    You (and your mom) are so right! I love the thought of picking up cookbooks at auctions. Best new way to find good recipes :) These popsicles sound amazing! I love root beer floats and haven’t had one in so long. Clearly this needs to change.

  12. says

    I love looking at old recipe collections – I have a lot of my grandma’s books and it’s always fun to see what she used. My own recipe journals tend to get smattered with baking debris even if I only make a recipe once so it’s not always the best gauge!

  13. says

    Your mama was so right. The pages in my cookbook and recipe card collection certainly indicate which ones I use the most. More over, they show which recipes my kids liked to make and bring back memories every time I see them. Each Tuesday I do, in fact, post a recipe from my cherished collection of Farm Journal cookbooks sold in the early 1970’s. I am also currently going through clippings and cook booklets that were my mother’s. I just found a recipe booklet that was my grandmother’s printed in 1937. So fun.


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