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Potato chip cookies and corned beef jello? These old Danville recipes show a snapshot in history

Spoiler alert: The recipe calls for lemon jello and chilled corned beef

Display of archived Danville recipes at the Ruby B. Archie Public Library (Ruby B. Archie Public Library)

DANVILLE, Va. – Everyone has that one family recipe that’s been passed down for decades, but what if you had a generational recipe from your hometown?

The Danville Historical Society and the Ruby B. Archie Public Library teamed up this Thanksgiving to share old archived recipes from the community.

Robin Marcato, who is on the Board of Directors for the Danville Historial Society, began collecting community cookbooks at various Danville thrift and antique stores.

When people started learning that she was collecting cookbooks, they would call her to let her know so she could stop by.

Over time, Marcato said she gathered “quite the selection,” so she decided to compile some of the recipes.

She shared her idea with the Ruby B. Archie Public Library, whose staff was on board to let her set up a display to share with the community.

From award-winning cookies to a dessert named after a former U.S. president, these archived recipes come from local churches, schools and even organizations that may no longer exist.

Crazy enough, some of the recipes are more than 50-years-old, dating as far back as 1967 to as recent as 1991.

“They’re little snapshots in time,” Marcato said.

Featured in the recipe compilation is a recipe titled “Ranger Cookies,” which includes quick oatmeal and Rice Krispies.

Marcato said those who have recreated the recipe at home say they’re delicious, and it’s no surprise.

Ranger Cookies were so good, they won a blue ribbon prize at the Danville Fair at some point in the 1950s, according to Marcato.

Her favorite recipe, however? The potato chip cookies. But she says other Danville Historical Society board members loved the Cake Chardonnay.

“They sent me pictures and then said ‘Oh my god, it’s really good! Wow!’” Marcato recalled.

Cake Charddonay (Danville Historical Society)

A recipe that didn’t quite make the cut to share as a potential Thanksgiving sidedish is the corned beef jello. And yes, this is a REAL dish.

Marcato said she shared the recipe on her Facebook page for fun, asking people if they would try to seemingly bizarre dish. Funny enough, her Facebook friends recognized the name attached to the cookbook.

“What’s great is that when I posted that one, I posted the name of the person who had contributed to that particular cookbook. We got comments with people recognizing who that was and what store she and her husband owned,” she said. “And it started off, these conversations, about the way people cooked at a certain time period. And that’s what I’m aiming for.”

Below are a few of the recipes compiled for this fun Thanksgiving exclusive:

Ranger Cookies

Recipe for Ranger Cookies (Danville Historical Society)

Potato Chip Cookies

Recipe for Potato Chip Cookies (Danville Historical Society)

Corned-beef Congealed Salad

Recipe for Corned-beef Congealed Salad (Danville Historical Society)

7 Up Salad

Recipe for 7 Up Salad (Danville Historical Society)

“Jimmie” Carter Pie

Recipe for Jimmy Carter Pie (Danville Historical Society)

Hornet’s Nest Cake

Recipe for Hornet's Nest Cake (Danville Historical Society)

If you’re interested in more of these archived Danville recipes, you can find them at the Ruby B. Archie Public Library.

Danville residents: Do you have any old recipes you’d like to share? If so, you can email them to Robin Marcato at danvillehistorical@gmail.com.


About the Author:

Nicole Del Rosario joined WSLS 10 in August 2020.