Animated Advertisment - Plight of women in the 1930s

BY BETH TAYLOR

Mothers everywhere can identify with the plight of the woman in this 1930s animated advertisement, Cookery Nook (Animator: Dick Ovenden, 1931).

Mum has cooked a lovely meal but her little boy takes a bite and exclaims, ‘I don’t like this pudding, Mum’ and refuses to eat it. What happens next involves anthropomorphised ingredients, a milk bottle shaped like a cow, and apricots with legs. This advertisement has to be seen to be believed.

A wonderful, surreal slice of life from the 1930s, it was also possibly the second sound cartoon ever made in Australia (an advertisement for Shell Oil, Percy Perplexed, being the first). Both films were made by the same production house, Melbourne’s Australian Sound Films, and animator, Dick Ovenden (1897–1972).

Cookery Nook advertisement, 1931.

NFSA film curator Sally Jackson says ‘Ovenden’s work as an illustrator was well known to Australians through his work in newspapers and magazines. Both Percy Perplexed and Cookery Nook were produced at a time when sound films were changing the face of cinema – much like digital today – and sound cartoons like Mickey Mouse were flooding the cinemas.’ According to Sally, Cookery Nook may have been screened in the Dried Fruits van that toured the country promoting dried fruits to community and mothers’ groups.

We have the existence of the Australian Dried Fruits Association’s Dried Fruits Publicity Committee (sponsored by the Commonwealth Government) to thank for this animation. In a newspaper article from the same year, JM Balfour, Chair of the publicity committee, emphasised ‘the desirability, both in the interests of health and for the sake of hundreds of growers, that more raisins and sultanas should be used in Australia’ (see The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 July 1931).

If all this talk of food is making you hungry, here’s the Cookery Nook recipe for Sultana Pudding:

Ingredients
6 oz (1 cup) sugar
4 oz (110 g) butter
1 egg
3 tbsp milk
6 oz (1 cup) flour
½ tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 tbsp jam (eg apricot)
1 oz (¼ cup) sultanas
2 oz (½ cup) raisins

Method

  • Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and milk and stir well. Add flour, baking soda, salt, jam, sultanas and raisins and stir to combine.
  • Pour the mixture into a well-greased tin and cover with greaseproof paper.
  • Place the covered tin into a saucepan of boiling water with a lid and steam for one-and-a-half hours.

Enjoy!