On November 25, 1884, Henri Nestlé registered the Nestlé trademark for condensed milk. I don’t care. I don’t like condensed milk. I never liked the Readers Digest condensed books, either. If authors wanted to write shorter books, they would have written them with fewer words or pages. Do people ever go into a restaurant and ask for a glass of condensed milk? It’s horrible. It doesn’t even taste like milk. If I wanted thicker milk I would just order cream or whipping cream. I like the taste of cream and whipping cream. A nice little film of butter fat forms on you lips and you can lick it off with a pleasant smile. Condensed milk on the other hand makes me gag.
How about condensed soup? Campbell’s makes condensed soup. Do they make it so you can eat condensed soup? No. They make condensed soup so we can water it down. What is the point of that? If you go to a restaurant and order soup, do they bring you condensed soup and a can of water? Something is missing here. Do we really need condensation?
We have John T. Dorrance to thank for condensed soup. Was he a chef? No? A cook? No. A restaurant waiter? No A bus Boy? No. He was a chemist with the Campbell Soup Company. In 1897 he invented the process of making condensed soup. Never mind that humans have been making soup for more than twenty thousand years. I wasn’t condensed soup; it was just soup. Watered down soup was probably created when the neighbors or in-laws stopped by at dinnertime. Actually, soup wasn’t soup until after bread was invented about ten thousand years ago. We actually get the word soup from the German word “sop”, meaning to soak up the juices. Now if John T. Dorrance had invented condensed sop, I might have stood in line for that.
There is nothing like a great soup and a great bread to go along with it. Nobody makes condensed bread do they? Well, there is hardtack and Zweiback or Zweibach (baked twice) . . . so, perhaps, you might consider those condensed bread. I can just imagine John T. Dorrance sitting down to a bowl of excellent, hearty soup and Zweiback and thinking to himself, “What if I just added a little water?”
An Addendum to Condensed – Peg Doman
If condensed milk is evaporated milk, then my mom liked it. She would put a little of it into her coffee to add some fat. She also added it to mashed potatoes and use it in pumpkin pie for company or holiday feasts. However, I never remember condensed milk in our hot cocoa that Mom and Dad and Pat and I would have on a Friday evening when all the little kids were asleep. Occasionally, however we did have marshmallows with some well-margarined cinnamon toast. With seven kids, we didn’t have butter except on the high holy days of Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
On the other hand, my very short mini-skirted (when I met her, straight from London), very good, very long-time friend Andi Melquist used to eat sweetened condensed milk out of the can with a spoon, and she didn’t wait for the holidays. She was an acidly funny Brit and a sugar-holic after my own creaking heart. She could bake up the best holiday sugar-fest ever: Russian tea cakes plus a myriad of cookies of the cinnamon, raison, nutty, frosty, rolled out, cut out and decorated, and dropped varieties. She even made fudge and other candies and white fruit cake (my favorite versus the dark kind), all served up with a hot toddy if you wanted one. Don and I usually had coffee or a soda. The toddy must have been about half or more liquor. Andi’s husband Randy generously made it. They sure got into the holidays; they had more more Christmas yard art than anyone short of an over-decorated department store and we miss them even more on the holidays. Andi and Randy, we’ll have a pound of butter in your name by New Year’s Day.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.