Music for Eating: Discographies Meet Recipes in the Rodgers & Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound
In addition to its sound recordings, the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound also has an extensive print media collection, including books, magazines, and clippings files documenting the history of recording technology and of particular record labels.
One of the most substantial category of print materials are its "new release" catalogs from hundreds of record labels, going back to the earliest years of the recording industry and spanning six continents in its geographic reach. Typically published monthly or yearly and mailed to dealers at record stores or instrument shops, these catalogs are useful today for researchers looking to determine the year a particular recording was released, for the range of musical genres covered by a certain record label, or (to give a very specific example) for which Indonesian musicians Columbia Records was promoting circa 1930 , as in the catalog below.
Mixed in with these catalogs are brochures and flyers for special promotions, such as for holiday-themed recordings, for “newly available” formats (like the vinyl LP or the audio cassette), or for cross-promotions with companies offering playback equipment and accessories.
While going through a section of EMI Records catalogs and brochures, we came across an interesting promotion for a geographically-themed LP series. The series included eight LP albums each for Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Spain, and Greece and featured folk songs from each country. The series was cross-promoted with Woman magazine; the magazine provided a representative recipe for each country, presumably meant to be served while listening to the records. The brochure also suggested appropriate styles of table linens and plates for the occasion.
EMI of course hasn’t been the only record company to exploit recipes as a marketing strategy. In 1962, Dade Records released a single entitled “Mashed Potatoes” featuring King Coleman and Nat Kendrick, which included a recipe for mashed potatoes on the record sleeve. In 1966, Pye Records partnered with the Cheese Bureau in a release of a single called “Moussaka” (again, the sleeve included a recipe).
NOTE: Although the majority of the promotional print materials at the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound cannot be found in the online catalog, they can be requested and viewed in our Special Collections Reading Room using the call number *LC followed by either the record label or (if known) the label's 3-digit code.