At last, some food we could really sink our teeth into on Mad Men! In last Sunday’s episode, “Signal 30,” we had lobster, Irish pub food and a spectacular Beef Wellington prepared by Cos Cob, Connecticut’s own Trudy Campbell. Anyone who can pull off Beef Wellington while tending to a very young baby really has her act together because this dish is no easy feat.
“Big and brown” may have been the most memorable phrase of the evening when the Cosgroves and the Drapers (Don reluctantly) make the trek to Cos Cob for Trudy’s dinner party. There’s been some speculation in the blogosphere about what this means; we’re of the opinion it’s Don’s way of asking for a large serving of his favorite whisky, Canadian Club.
But it’s the Draper’s gift of William Greenberg brownies in the red tin that made a splash at the Campbell’s, giving Pete and Trudy a pang of homesickness for the city they left behind for life in the suburbs. “Look what they brought,” Pete says to Trudy. “Doesn’t it make you homesick?” There are no bakeries and no Greenberg’s in Cos Cob Trudy informs her guests. Pete wants to try them “my way,” frozen, but apparently he’s alone in that. But we don’t think he’s talking just about the brownies.
William J. Greenberg’s bakery had a location at 1181 Madison Avenue in the 1960s (today the Madison Avenue location is at 1100). A specialist in “hostess gifts,” according to an article in The New York Times on May 17, 1960 titled, appropriately enough, “Gifts Rich in Calories to Please New Mothers,” Greenberg gifts became the food gift to give to young moms. “The reasoning behind this development,” said the Times, “seems to be that after months of careful diet control, every girl is entitled to a good cooky binge or at least the chance at one.” Greenberg’s brownies and other baked delicacies, such as his Schnecken, a type of cinnamon roll, were rich and expensive. A tin of four dozen brownies cost $5.85 in 1960 (today it’s $36 a dozen!). But they were worth it. In 1980, New York Magazin called them an “old money brownie — well bred and adventurous with a refined dazzle.”
Speaking of rich and expensive, that certainly describes the advertising prey of the evening, Jaguar Motor Cars, a potential account lost to that most humble of comestibles, if one can call it that, a simple piece of chewing gum. We hope we don’t have to explain.