Thursday, August 20, 2015

More Terrifyingly Green Products of Yesteryear

 And you thought it was just salad dressing. After last week's post about Green Goddess, I thought it might be fun to revisit some other bright green products of my youth. Don't be frightened. Come on, I'll hold your hand so the green food dye doesn't get you.

Green River soda has a history going back to Prohibition when the brewery had to find something to keep them in business. When I was a child, Green River was something you had at soda fountains, or at restaurants-we didn't have it at home. I'm sure it wasn't only sold as a syrup, but I don't remember bottles or cans of it being routinely available. We were more of a Tab/Fresca sort of family anyway.
Just look at all that  glorious artificial food colouring. Over the years the drink fell out of popularity (it was always a regional Midwestern drink) and disappeared. There was a serial killer named the Green River Killer, but it had nothing to do with the drink (there really is a Green River out west),  Every few years they bring it back for a nostalgia run, and I duly purchase a few bottles. Previous versions were made with ingredients that weren't in the original, and it wasn't the same. This time, the result is closer to what I remember-a not too sweet lemon/lime (mostly lime) soda. We bought two bottles which should satisfy any cravings for the next few years. If only I had some paper straws and a toasted cheese sandwich to go with it. Green River also makes a delicious ice cream soda (vanilla ice cream and green river mixed together). To do it like a Chicagoan, you can't simply plunk in a scoop of vanilla ice cream-that's a float, not a soda.

Ice Cream Soda (any flavour, same recipe more or less):

In a tall glass pour in a bit of syrup (green river syrup, chocolate, Coke, etc.). Mix in a couple tablespoons of whipped cream until it is sludgy looking. Pour in some soda, then add your ice cream, top it up with more soda, and then top it all with more whipped cream. That is how you make an ice cream soda. Wafer biscuit optional. I'm told they are rarer than hen's teeth today, so consider this my part in preserving a bit of regional food history.

Speaking of Chicago food history-Maurice Lenell cookies are no more. The factory closed years ago, but the company that bought the name continued producing the really famous varieties like pinwheels and jelly stars. Expensive equipment, and a ban on trans fats pretty much sealed their fate. I remember going to the factory to purchase bags of broken cookies (assorted, of course because they just dumped all the broken bits in a bag) with my dad because he liked a bargain. "It all gets jumbled together in your stomach, what's the difference?" he'd ask when I'd protest that once in a while it would be nice to buy a proper tin of intact biscuits. Sometimes, he'd relent, and buy a tin of Danish butter cookies, but most of the time it was Maurice Lenell's smashed jelly stars. Being nut allergic it would have been considerate to purchase something that wasn't crumbled together with the cashew variety. How I lived to adulthood is really a wonder. I'd pick out the pinwheels, dust them off and hope my throat didn't start itching. Most of the time they didn't cause too much of a problem. It was an attractive biscuit though (in the unbroken state) with a chocolate and vanilla pinwheel and a coarse pink sugar edge. Somehow, they never quite lived up to expectations. For me anyway-I hear people in Chicago are going crazy right now trying to get the last few available boxes. Sometimes you have to let things die.

Years later, when I moved to Boston my dad would stop at the factory, buy me a bag of cookies and ship them out to me (as they were already damaged before shipping it wasn't like the postal service would do it any more harm). The more I'd ask him not to, the more he'd send. He just couldn't get it through his head that I didn't like them, and that for the past forty some odd years they had been making me mildly ill. I had a friend that got a kick out of the idea of shipping broken cookies halfway across the country, so they usually ended up with her.

Well that was a fun trip down memory lane, eh? Back to the green stuff now.

Know what else is emerald green? Prell shampoo, that's what. I was amazed to see it is still being made, so I bought Danny a bottle remembering how good it was at stripping colour out of my hair when I'd dyed it too dark. If it could handle Clairol Nice-N-Easy Blue-Black dye, it can handle a ten year old boy's oily hair. Indeed, his hair has never looked cleaner, or smelled better. I couldn't resist the bright jeweled bottle in the shower, so I gave it a try as well. It still smells more or less the same, and it did a better job of removing residue from styling products than Neutragena ever did. I wouldn't use it often, but my hair did feel fuller and look incredibly shiny.

I didn't wear emeralds to wash my hair, or false eyelashes. Still, it was pretty damn luxurious. Not as luxurious or green as the original Herbal Essence shampoo, but that one's gone forever.
Once, my mother came home with a gallon of some cheap, green shampoo she bought god only knows where, and announced we'd all be using the same shampoo until it was gone. With two daughters living at home, that wasn't unreasonable. Being the early 70's, we saw the green shampoo and expected something similar to Herbal Essences, which we'd been using on and off for years.

Chicago gets stupidly hot in the summer. The humidity is awful, the lake is little comfort, and from about June to October insects that thrive in warm, moist environments are everywhere. Imagine our surprise to find the shampoo was not herbal, but Green Apple scented. Imagine our further delight at being bombarded by fruit flies the entire summer. That was a memorable summer.

Need more evidence that the 70's were the decade of green food and cosmetics? Raise your hand if you remember, Yendi. I have yet another bottle ordered and on the way to me as I type. I think my growing Yendi stash will be happy in the drawer with my Emeraude stash-though Yendi's green is far flashier.
Be warned-Yendi starts as an aldehyde cloud, and it takes some time until the iris comes through. There's a tonne of cedar and oakmoss as well so proceed with caution. I find it lovely, but it is a scent that reminds you (and everyone else) it is there. Come to think of it-you wouldn't like it. Just send the bottles you find to me. I don't mind taking them off your hands at all. No trouble, really.

So you've washed your hair, sprayed on some Yendi, and now you need to do a roller set. There's only one product that's going to work here in the land of 70's green products...
That's right, Dippity Dew. Your hair isn't moving until you wash it next week.

I'd be lying if I said I never tried green eyeshadow. Mine never looked quite as freakish as this...
 ...or god forbid, this:

Oh no! You've run out of Midori Mellonball, and company's coming. Better get in the car, and go to the store...
I spent a lot of time in a green, 1974 Dodge Dart. I should rephrase that-I spent a lot of time, stranded in a green 1974 Dodge Dart. It was my sister's car. She spent a good deal of time tinkering under the hood with a hairbrush to get it started. It wasn't terribly reliable, but it sure was green! Her's looked just like this. I wonder if the one in the picture smells like Salem Lights?

I thought I'd get into the green act as well. Can't miss me in a crowd in this cardigan.

Outfit Particulars:
Japanese-made skirt-Goodwill
Vintage Florsheim shoes-Goodwill
Metallic shopper with lucite handles-New Life Thrift
Tank top-K Mart
Vintage green crystal clip earrings-Hand-Me-Ups
Bakelite bangles-all over
Pair of matching brooches-Goodwill

 There are so few outfits these shoes go with, but when they do, it is almost magical.
 The shopper folds and snaps into a more compact bag for storage, which is a nice feature.

What about you? Have any avocado green kitchen appliance memories, or fluorescent food you'd like to share?


Bibi said...

Remember the commercial- "Don't touch my Dippity Doo!"
I recall many a time having my hair set into pincurls & sponge rollers with Dippity Doo before going to bed as a child.
I had a flashback recently when I bought a bottle L'Oreal's new "Mythic Oil" hair mask- it had a fragrance I couldn't place but seemed familiar- it was the Breck shampoo scent! Then I recalled Wella Balsam products with their slightly pine-y florals & that awful Agree creme rinse with it's synthetic 'clean' white musk/muguet stench that lasted for ages. Oh the memories, of shampoos that could possibly strip paint & conditioners that left your hair limp & waxy.
That frosty green & blue eyeshadow really was the shizz back in the day.....Ms China Brights looks like Carol Channing's long lost daughter.
Only one green product I can think of that you missed- Palmolive!
I think Prell & Palmolive were the same product, OK so maybe Palmolive was a bit gentler?

Mim said...

Oooh, good shoes!

I'm afraid the first thing the Green River made me think of was the serial killer - I'd never heard of the soda.

It's always slightly sad when old food brands discontinue, or products cease to be made. I remember when Salad Cream nearly got dropped by Heinz a few years back; you'd have thought they'd suggested we all give up breathing. (As far as I can see, the only use for salad cream is mixing with tomato sauce to make a lazy-ass marie rose sauce, but that could just be me.) I guess people feel if the product's gone, part of their lives are gone. Hmm. There may be some truth in that; Marks and Spencer's archive actually does reminiscence boxes and tours to help people with dementia reconnect.

I'm wearing green eyeshadow today, though not all the way to my brows. Hell, it's Friday...

Propagatrix said...

I can still sing the Maurice Lenell radio jingle (to the tune of "On Top of Old Smoky").

Grayspoole said...


I've been enjoying your blog for a few months now, but this fabulous green meditation takes the cake (or should it be a slice of Key Lime pie?) and seemed to require a first comment and a few handclaps, too.

I have no experience with Green River soda, having grown up in NYC, but nearly every other green product you mentioned evoked fond memories. I had it all...Prell, Dippity Doo, Herbal Essence shampoo, and green eyeshadow, with my favorite one found in a space age lucite stack of Love's makeup. More recently, I have discovered how gorgeous vintage Emeraude perfume can be. Haven't tried Yendi yet.

Online, I am usually hanging out in the Vintage forum on Fragrantica, but your blog is great fun. I'm also trying to raise two sane and intelligent teenage girls (13 and 15), so I have to add that your son is a one cool kid. Oh, and I love the outfit, from head to handbag to toe,

Goody said...

Palmolive! How could I forget it? I'm soaking in it ;)
I kind of wish they still made Agree-the kid has the oiliest hair I've ever seen.
Carol Channing-oh god, you nailed it! "Hello Dolly well hello Dolly..."

The salad cream is good mixed with chutney and some curry powder for a quick Coronation Tofu sort of salad. It shouldn't work, but it does.
I hadn't heard about M&S doing the memory tours-what a wonderful idea.

I always thought there was something strange looking about the kid in the cookie jar he'd been smoking dope before he got the munchies and ended up in the jar.

Thank you so much for your kind comments. I will look for you at Fragrantica-I read the posts but never got around to joining.

Beth Waltz said...

Avocado green appliances never die. Friend of mine bought a l970s ranch with a full compliment of double ovens, wide range, fridge, dishwasher, even a mangle -- when she sold the house after the kids graduated from college, Team Green was still operational. And ugly.

Prell is indeed the answer to a botched color job. Also removes glop such as Dippity Dew and Butch hair wax. And some things beagles will roll in...

My first new car was an army green Dart with no radio, black floor mats and the stiffest power steering this side of an Abrams tank. Paid exactly $1/pound for it. I'd buy it again in an instant: no @#$% computer and I could change the oil myself! (What, exactly, was your sister doing with the hairbrush? I used a chopstick to fiddle with the butterfly valve on the carb thingy.)

Connie said...

What a great skirt. And those shoes truly are magical. I was hoping you would mention Herbal Essence Shampoo. I can still smell it. Mmmmm... The shampoo I use these days is purple.

Goody said...

@Beth Waltz

I had a place back in '92 that still had the green appliances...I *loved* them!
No idea what sis was doing with the hairbrush, but whatever it was worked. Most of the time. I did love that car.

The purple shampoo makes blonde/white hair shine so beautifully. I haven't gone platinum in years, but I'm hoping I'll soon have enough grey to make it work wonders. Our "city" water (rather than the country well water)has very little iron in it, so my grey is looking much brighter than it used to.