You are here

The Joy of Cooking Too Much

70 Years of Calorie Increases in Classic Recipes

70 Years of Calorie Increases in Classic Recipes

Recipes in cookbooks have increased the calorie content of their meals overtime as people have become accustomed to consuming larger portions

When using recipes from a cookbook, be wary of the suggested full portion of food and try to serve yourself less

Scroll down to read more... 

Wansink, Brian and Collin Payne (2009). The Joy of Cooking too much: 70 years of calorie increases in classic recipes. Annals of Internal Medicine, 150 (4), 291-292. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-150-4-200902170-00028

Cornell study follows evolution of recipes over time.

Are new edition cookbooks making us fatter? The 2006 updated version of The Joy of Cooking may be similar to your grandmother's cookbook and call for the use of the same pan, but recipe serving sizes have increased drastically over time and could be a contributor to those unwanted extra pounds.

Consumer and media attention often focuses on the fact that eating out of the home is a large cause of obesity, but a recent study lead by Brian Wansink has found that good old fashioned home cooking has its share in contributing to our growing waistlines as well. The study tested the recipes in seven editions of The Joy of Cooking spanning 70 years for serving size and caloric levels. Over the period of time and cookbook editions, 18 recipes were continuously published in every edition. In 14 of these 18 recipes, the number of calories in the recipe increased by a whopping 43.7%.

The study reveals that these recipe calorie increases are caused by changes in ingredients, but also because people are now accustomed to eating bigger portions of food. Food is less expensive and a smaller part of the consumer income now than it was in 1936, so cookbooks need to adapt to today's social norms of more calorie dense food s and bigger servings of these foods. Serving sizes have increased gradually throughout the years and cookbook editions. The largest jump is a 33.2% increase in portion serving sizes since 1996 alone. This expanded portion size helps explain why calories per serving have increased from an average of 168.8 calories to 436.9 calories, which is a 63% increase in calories per serving. The chicken gumbo recipe for example, went from making 14 servings at 228 calories each in the 1936 edition, to making 10 servings at 576 calories each in the 2006 version. What is the best way to prevent this sneaky remake of the classics? Wansink states " These recipes were once intended to serve nearly twice as many people as they do today, so don't let a full portion get anywhere near your plate. "

Article Summary by Chelsey Keeler

For more information about the Joy of Cooking cookbook, please watch their youtube fun facts video.