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Apple Pie - Just Like Aunt Jenny Use to Make

In the 1930s and 40s, thousands of Saginaw housewives welcomed “Aunt Jenny” and her radio show "Real Life Stories" into their kitchens each weekday morning. In the 15-minute time slot, she narrated “soap opera” type stories and gave step-by-step instructions on how to make an easy recipe - this yummy apple pie being one of them. 

In 1936, the Lever Brothers created the advertising character of “Aunt Jenny” when they introduced Spry Vegetable Shortening to compete with Crisco.

Aunt Jenny, portrayed by Edith Spencer

Click to enlarge photo.

The character with her pleasant face and kind, helpful demeanor was primarily portrayed by Edith Spencer in numerous print ads found in women's magazines, as well as several promotional cookbooks. “Aunt Jenny,” however, was best known as the host and narrator of the long-running CBS radio show, Aunt Jenny’s Real Life Stories (January 18, 1937 – November 16, 1956). During each episode, “Aunt Jenny” offered her listeners cooking advice, usually in the form of easy recipes that featured Spry Vegetable Shortening as an ingredient. Although Spencer eventually left the show and was replaced by Agnes Young in the United States and by Ethel Lang in the Australian version, the company still used artwork based on her likeness in their advertising until the show ended in 1956. Eventually the company discontinued Spry Vegetable Shortening.

The Castle Museum’s collection contains various styles of radios from different eras. This early 1940s Philco radio and this early 1950s Mallory bakelite radio were used by Saginaw County residents, who may have tuned in to listen to “Aunt Jenny” each morning.

Ready to get into this recipe!

Here is what you will need:

2 1/4 c sifted all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

3/4 c vegetable shortening 

5 tbs cold water (about)

Sift flour and salt together. Add 1/2 of vegetable shortening to flour. Cut in with pastry blender or two knives until mixture is fine as meal. Add remaining vegetable shortening and continue cutting until particles are of the size of a navy bean. Sprinkle water gradually over mixture. With fork, work lightly together until particles are moistened and in small lumps. Add just enough water to moisten. Press dampened particles together into a smooth blended dough. Do not handle dough anymore than necessary. This makes 1 (2 crust) 9-inch pie.

Additional Recipe Items:

6 lg tart apples, sliced thin

1 c sugar

1 tsp cinnamon 

1 tsp salt

1 tsp lemon juice 

1 tbs butter

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Roll out half the dough and line a 9-inch pie plate. Fill pie shell with sliced apples. Mix spices, sugar, salt and lemon juice. Sprinkle over apples. Dot with butter. Moisten edge of pie with water. Roll remaining dough for top crust and cut a few slits to permit steam to escape. For top crust over apples and seal edges of pie. Bake in 425° degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes. 

Deana Coleman, our staff associate, tests out weekly recipes from the cookbook Savoring Saginaw.

Visit here to learn more about Aunt Jenny's Real Life Stories.


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