“Many of the recipes in the 1933 edition of the Good Housekeeping Cook Book called for white sauce, the late-nineteen-century mainstay upon which most middle-class men had been brought up, slathered on fish, vegetables, and even meat. There were recipes for three different kinds of the glutinous concoction (thin, medium, and thick) and for nine other sauces using it as a base, including tomato sauce, which was white sauce mixed with a can of condensed tomato soup and baking soda. “Curry Sauce” was two cups of white sauce with apples and a mere one and a half teaspoons of curry powder, barely enough to color it faint yellow. (…) The few “foreign” recipes seemed to be there mainly to emphasize the cook-books recommendation that canned goods should be used wherever possible. “Veal Goulash” contained no paprika but required one-half cup of sweet bottled chili sauce and an equal amount of grated “American” (i.e. processed) cheese. Beef goulash was also devoid of paprika but did call for sugar.

The taste for sweetness in main courses – often remarked upon by foreign observers – is not surprising, for the Depression saw no letup in the steady growth of the much-vaunted American sweet tooth. (…) This was reflected in home cooking – or at least in the books that told Americans how to do it. (…) Most of the salads were sweet, with canned fruit, bottled mayonnaise (which was sweet; there was no recipe for the real thing), and/or French dressing. One version of the latter was made of oil, vinegar, and sugar, while the other (particularly recommended for salad) contained sugar, ketchup, chili sauce, and “condiment sauce”. Garlic, on the other hand, was treated only slighly less cautiously than arsenic.”

Harvey Levenstein, Paradox of Plenty – A Social History of Eating in Modern America, University of California Press, 2003 (Revised Edition), p. 36/37