All through Bridge Table, I include menus typical of ladies lunch of the era 20s-60s, as well as a few from the post-60s era after bridge clubs became somewhat passe amongst daughters.
One of the things I found out in my research about ladies lunch and the gender foods of ladies-only menus was this. Corporate press releases drove much of it that ended up on weekly food pages in major newspapers. For cookbook collectors, there’s a whole sub-specialty in corporate-published pamphlets by companies that sold Jell-O, Coca Cola, other foods.
Gelatin (congealed) salads and desserts were featured in menus for ladies from the 1890s on. The invention of Jell-O made them far easier to prepare. Then too, the jewel-like colors of Jell-O were wonderful for color-themed ladies lunch menus. Valentine’s Day pink and red, patriotic July 4th red and blue, red and green for Christmas–all were common. The company pulished enless suggestions for cooking with Jell-O.
In a pamphlet written by Ida Bailey Allen, one of the prominent food writers of the 30s, put out by Coca Cola in 1932, and titled When you Entertain, she says: “Bridge has become one of the most popular ways of entertaining women guests. . . always acceptable following lunch.”
One menu suggested is for a tea sandwich lunch of watercress and cucumber sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches and . . . Coca Cola Fluff. It combines both Coke and Jell-O.
How do you make Coca Cola Fluff? Lime Jell-O with coke as the liquid. When set, beat it with an egg beater into a froth, and fold in a cup heavy cream whipped until stiff, and let it re-set. [Today, I suppose, you could use Diet Coke, Sugar-free Jell-O and low-cal Kool-Whip.]
Allen also suggests that Coke is the ideal beverage to serve the ladies at lunch trying to lose weight (as they always are) since they claim it is assimilated immediately and that small amount of sugar in a Coke “energizes the body.”