The ‘Mighty Marvel Superheroes’ Cookbook’ (1977) Will Teach You To Make a Sandwich
A while back, ComicsAlliance brought you a look back at the 1976 Mighty Marvel Strength & Fitness Book, in which the kids of the '70s were invited to slim down with exercises like the "Torchie Twist." It's hardly the only strange piece of strange Marvel ephemera from the era, though, and apparently it did its job so well that by the next year, it was time to fatten up those kids all over again with The Mighty Marvel Superheroes Cookbook!Featuring the art of Joe Giella -- who also illustrated Strength & Fitness and who currently handles art chores on the meddlesome Mary Worth -- the Mighty Marvel Cookbook features pages upon pages of recipes that are only vaguely tied into the super-heroes. A lot of them actually look pretty tasty, but there are plenty that are extremely dubious. I mean, writing a cookbook for kids is one thing, but when you count "make a sandwich" as a recipe, you've crossed the line into sheer insanity.
Things start to go south for the cookbook right off the bat in the breakfast section, with the Spider-Man inspired Chocolate Web Pancakes:
Now, I'm not much of a chef myself, but I'm pretty sure that a recipe for pancakes that people were expected to pay actual money for probably shouldn't have "make pancakes" as step one. When the entirety of your recipe is "put some chcocolate syrup on it," you might as well be padding it out with "cut a manageable piece with a fork" and "use the fork from the previous step to put it in your mouth."
And that thing about the sandwich "recipe?" I wasn't kidding.
Oh, so that's how you make sandwiches! And here I was putting my least favorite things between bread slices like some kind of chump. And serving them with chips? It's a culinary revolution! Thanks, Black Panther!
Also, if those olives look huge, they're not: It's just an illusion caused by being so close to the tiny squares. Black Panther is so awesome that he creates optical illusions to keep himself entertained at snacktime.
Of course, once you get past the obviously phoned-in recipes, there are plenty that struck me and my taste buds as being downright bizarre. Let's see if the Stuffed Franks (which are unfortunately not presented as being a lunchtime favorite of the Punisher) get your mouth to watering:
That's right, everybody: Cheddar cheese and peanut butter stuffed into hot dogs, accented with the "partially cooked" deliciousness of bacon. Now, I definitely like all of those things individually -- and some of them in combination! -- and I'm willing to consider the possibility that this thing is on some mysterious Da Vinci Code level of secret deliciousness like dipping French fries in a chocolate shake, but oh my God that sounds awful. Serves four? Only if you've got four people around that have all lost a bet, pal.
And while we're on the subject of hot dogs, that's not the only strange combination they come up with either. From the chapter on Spider-Man's favorite baked goods -- or in the words of Pinkie Pie, baked bads:
You know, I am totally with you right up until the point you start suggesting that hot dog muffins are "a delicious treat." I can imagine very few things that would ruin breakfast faster than wandering into the kitchen, grabbing a muffin and biting into it to find a chunk of hot dog sitting at the center. Seriously, half the recipes in here seem like they're instructions on pranking your parents.
Then again, maybe that's just my uncultured palate at work. Some of these things actually do sound pretty delicious, after all, even if they're also mind-bendingly bad for you:
"In sadder news, New York hero/menace Spider-Man was found dead today of a heart attack at age 26. Early reports from the Night Nurse place the blame on his active, high-stress lifestyle combined with a habit of eating bacon-wrapped, sugar-coated bananas. Reached for comment, his aunt blamed the tragedy on a lack of wheatcakes in his diet, and also wondered why her wheatcake recipe was not included in this cookbook."
Incidentally, Bananas in Blankets is immediately followed by my absolute favorite phone-in recipe in the entire book: Quick Raisin Bread.
I can't really explain it, but the mental image of a kid sitting at a table with this book open beside a plate, manually pushing raisins into a slice of WonderBread is the most hilariously sad thing I've ever read. I think it's the "Make a design if you wish" that puts it over the top.
Of course, if bread drenched in syrup and sugar-coated bacon aren't your thing, don't worry. The cookbook also features several healthier recipes, including Thor's Asgardian Vegetable Soup...
...which of course contains half a pound of ground beef.
That's not a misprint, either: In Asgard, beef is actually considered a vegetable. Only animals that have to be wrestled into submission and beaten to death with a hammer qualify as meat, which makes it really disappointing that this book didn't contain any instructions at all on how to prepare giant man-eating wolf steaks or sauted world-serpent (serves 6,000,000,000).
For something with a slightly lower meat-to-vegetable ratio, though, we have Iron Man's Special Salad:
The "special" ingredient is gin!
Also, I have to admit that as embarrassing as it is when you consider this book's intended audience of ten year-olds, I'm a little thrown off by some of the terminology that gets thrown around. I mean I've been eating things for almost thirty years now, and I don't want to brag here or anything, but I'm pretty good at it. That said, I have absolutely no idea what "meat spread" is, other than that it sounds horrific every time it gets mentioned, which is on almost every page.
And then there's this:
"Any food you can grab and put into your mouth without cooking it" has to be the most hilarious way of phrasing that idea, and yet so perfect. It's like a robot trying to describe a buffet and the fact that this book has a dedicated phrase to describe it is amazing.
Obviously, in addition to the increasingly dubious food, there's a real effort made to get a little bit of character to things by having the characters show up to recommend food to the reader. Most of these just involve pictures of the characters enjoying their food, like Captain America here:
I feel that I should point out that nowhere in this book, not once, not even with that picture right there on the page, is the word "Capcakes" used. Missed opportunity, folks.
Also, Shang Chi, the Master of Kung Fu, shows up pretty much every time there's a recipe that's even remotely Asian, often in truly hilarious ways:
I should point out here that any recipe with an Asian ingredient is referred to as "Kung Fu," like the "Kung Fu Burger." I should also point out, though, that chop suey probably didn't need the modifier to let people know it was Chinese. Probably best to move on.
Some of the illustrations go a little further, too. The best one in the book by a long shot is when a terrified Howard the Duck shows up for the chapter on cooking poultry...
...but my personal favorite has got to be the splash page that introduces the fishing chapter:
There is more pathos in this one image than in most entire comics. The Hulk grabbing a fish with his bare hands while the fish's friend looks on, eyes wide, scared out of his fishy mind while Namor eyes him with a sadistic grin, more or less telling him to go back underwater and tell his friends that none of them are safe. "Thor has beaten your champion. The rest of you have no chance. Pray we are elsewhere at lunchtime."