Posted by: Erica Retrochef | January 13, 2014

Ben Franklin Salad

Benjamin Franklin’s birthday is coming up on Thursday this week.


What? You forgot? TSK, TSK.

Anyway, this advertisement originally wasn’t at all related to Franklin’s birthday. Instead, it’s a bizarre rambling tale of debate over what food to serve at an upcoming Service Member’s Social; our heroine offers to serve fifty men for six bucks with her amazing invention, the Ben Franklin salad. And then there’s a lot of enthusiasm expressed on all sides for real mayonnaise.


Blend thoroughly 2 tbs. milk and 1 cup Real Mayonnaise. Mix with 4 cups mashed potato, 1/2 cup diced celery, 2 tbs. chopped onion, 2 tbs. chopped parsley. Season with 2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper. Then slice 3 large tomatoes and 4 cooked frankfurters. Arrange with potato salad on lettuce or salad greens as illustrated. Garnish each serving with pimiento star and springs of parsley. Serve with Real Mayonnaise. Serves 6.

What potatoes, hot dogs, mayonnaise and tomatoes have to do with Ben Franklin isn’t clear. Either it’s some sort of terrible “Ben Franklinfurter” pun, or a connection between cheap ingredients and Franklin frugality. I’m not sure which would be worse.

Anyway, even with just frankfurters and potatoes, it might be a stretch to feed fifty guys for just six bucks. Plus it might be disgusting, we don’t know yet!


I guess if you’ve got a nice victory garden (and some of those Ladies Auxiliary folks ought to, right?), it would be easy to get the vegetables pretty inexpensively.


I’m not entirely sure why the mayonnaise needs to be thinned with milk — perhaps the flavor? But mayo has a lot more taste than milk… so, yeah, who knows.


It does require a fair bit of peeling, chopping, and slicing — and just imagine making fifty servings worth… but again, I bet all those Ladies Auxiliary would be able to help out.


The interesting part of this wasn’t the tomato, hot dog slices, or mayonnaise, it was the mashed potato salad. I enjoyed it, although it was salty and very onion-flavored; the kids didn’t particularly like it, though. If I made it again, I’d probably just leave out the extra salt and let the mayo and parsley provide all the flavor. And it would be a pretty tasty, inexpensive dish to cook up for a large crowd, especially if you’re putting funding before fanciness.

The Ben Franklin Salad was posted by emisanboo on Flickr.



  1. I love weird old adverts like this – “I can feed fifty men for $6!” “New support hose, only $0.19!”

    The thing is, what you could get for $6 in 1942, adjusted for inflation to 2013, would cost over $85. I could feed fifty men for $85, too. (And the support hose? Almost $3. At least those were cheap!)

  2. I kind of like the ad concept, actually. It’s a play off of Ben Franklin being an inventor, and with food rationing, making inexpensive food for a crowd required inventiveness. Clever. However, I bet the real Ben Franklin could invent something more innovative than mashed potatoes with mayo. Maybe something in a key-shaped Jello mold? (Oh, and I wonder if the weird milk-and-mayo thing was about stretching ingredients?)

  3. Interesting. A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned, said Ben Franklin, so…vegetables and mashed potatoes are pretty inexpensive. Hot dogs, sliced, are all over the place price-wise. A few slices on the plate almost as a garnish, I could see it.

  4. Thumbs up for the sweet star garnish!

  5. Did Franklin HAVE access to hot dogs?

    If he did, he might not have eaten them, he ate mostly veggies and grains.

    • Hmm, interesting point! Technically, hot dogs (or mild German sausages from Frankfurt, specifically, but that’s not wholly relevant) did exist in the late 1700’s. However, Franklin was pretty anti-German, so even if there were frankfurters in the British colonies (moderately unlikely) he probably wouldn’t have eaten them.

  6. Where’s Buzz?

    • I was out flying my kite. 🙂

  7. Benjamin Franklinfurter…you’re hilarious! xx

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