It All Comes Out in the Wash
Wouldn't you know it, just when I thought there would be a crystalline answer to when the first soap opera aired its dirty laundry on television, look what comes out in the wash.
The first soap opera on television was broadcast during the summer of 1946 on WRGB, a General Electric Station in Schenectady, New York. Called WAR BRIDE, this 13-part series was the story of a returning GI and his new wife. Soon to follow was the daytime drama FARAWAY HILL aired on the DuMont Network in 1946. This was the first network soap opera.
Other sources claimed A WOMAN TO REMEMBER on the DuMont network (1947) was the first real television soap broadcast from Dumont's New York studios located in Wanamaker's Department Store.
And still other sources claim that THESE ARE MY CHILDREN by Irna Phillips telecast (from Chicago) Monday through Friday from 5:00-5:15 P.M. on NBC and THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS on CBS network (1950) were the first bona fide network soaps.TV Acres.
Let's polish things up a bit. The first soap opera wasn't on television, at first. It was on radio. You "heard" me, radio.
Soap operas began in the early 1930s as 15-minute radio episodes and continued on television from the early 1950s as 30-minute and later hour-long episodes. Usually broadcast during the day and aimed at housewives, they initially focused on middle-class family life, but by the 1970s their content had expanded to include a wider variety of characters and situations and a greater degree of sexual explicitness. (source)
Clara, Lu & Em, a pioneering radio show created by three Evanston Illinois women, was the first serial to hit the airwaves. (The term soap opera wasn't coined until the late 1930s.) It first aired on June 16, 1930 at WGN radio station in Chicago.
Clara, Lu 'n Em was the nation’s first radio soap opera. It was created by three Northwestern University graduates and Evanston, Illinois residents, Louise Starkey Mead as Clara, Isobel Berolzheimer Lu and Helen King Mitchell as Em. Portraying three gossiping (and funny) housewives concerned with everyday things, the radio show was a huge hit and a breakthrough for women in the business. First broadcast locally on WGN beginning in 1930, then nationally on NBC and CBS until 1945, the show was sponsored by various soap companies and ran for more than 10 years. (source)
In the early years of daytime serial stories or soap operas as we now call them, sponsorship was divvied up amongst soap manufacturing companies who were aiming their products at women. After a year of programming, Clara, Lu 'n Em became a popular five-day-a-week must see. While entertaining housewives across the country, the show pioneered the standards for future soap operas.
On Tuesday, January 27, 1931, the first broadcast of Clara, Lu, 'n Em aired on NBC's Blue Network for Super Suds. There was no real story to this program, but there was a lot of gossip and chatter among 3 women who lived in a small town duplex. The 3 ladies, Clara Roach, Lu Casey, and Emma Krueger, talked about anything and everything from their families to the high prices at the grocery store to politics...When the program debuted, it was on the air Tuesday-Saturday at 10:30 PM. Since most serial programs of that time usually aired from 6 PM-8 PM, Clara, Lu, 'n Em was misplaced in its late night time slot...On Monday, February 15, 1932, the serial was moved to new territory--- daytime radio. Heard every weekday morning at 10:15 AM on NBC's Blue Network, Clara, Lu, 'n Em made history as the first daytime serial on network radio. Of course, Super Suds continued to sponsor the program. In doing so, Super Suds was the first soap product to sponsor the first network daytime serial program..Super Suds Presents
...When they emerged in the early 1930s, they were properly called serials since their stories were never completed in one program and, like the romance fiction and movie serials from which they gained much of their inspiration, their plots might be expected to continue for many broadcasts before reaching a full conclusion. Before the end of the decade, however, trade publications sarcastically labeled them "washboard weepers," "sudsers," and "soap operas" because they were melodramatic and usually sponsored by manufacturers of facial soaps or soap powders. Soap Operas As A Social Force
Swell, now we know why a soap is called a soap where does opera fit in?
The term "soap opera" was coined by the American press in the 1930s to denote the extraordinarily popular genre of serialized domestic radio dramas, which, by 1940, represented some 90% of all commercially-sponsored daytime broadcast hours. The "soap" in soap opera alluded to their sponsorship by manufacturers of household cleaning products; while "opera" suggested a high level of emotion and intrigue.
Are you immersed in the melodramatic episodes of The Young and the Restless? I'm not. However, Marion bubbles over with delight each day when the show lathers her TV set. She gets whisked away into the tangled interpersonal situations of the cast of characters, big time!
The Young and the Restless first drenched television sets across America on March 26, 1973.
The Young and the Restless was based upon the premise that a soap opera about the sexual intrigues of attractive characters in their twenties would attract an audience of women also in their twenties. Devised for CBS by another of Irna Phillips's students, William Bell, and launched in 1973, The Young and the Restless is what might be called the first "Hollywood" soap. Not only was it shot in Hollywood (as some other soaps already were), it borrowed something of the "look" of a Hollywood film (particularly in its use of elaborate sets and high-key lighting), peopled Genoa City with soap opera's most conspicuously attractive citizens, dressed them in fashion-magazine wardrobes, and kept its plots focused on sex and its attendant problems and complications. The formula was almost immediately successful, and The Young and the Restless has remained one of the most popular soap operas for more than twenty years. It is also the stylistic progenitor of such recent "slick" soaps as Santa Barbara and The Bold and the Beautiful... The Museum of Broadcast Communications
Published in Nashville, Tennessee by Rutledge Press in 1997, Cooking with The Young and the Restless, by Robert Waldron and food author Martha Hollis, is gushing with recipes, show history, and color photographs of spruced up cast members. According to the book, "the first restaurant prominently featured on the show was Pierre's, owned by Pierre Roland, who frequently treated his customers to musical numbers. Pierre was in love with Sally Maguire, a troubled waitress. Sally, however, loved Snapper and tried to lure him away from Chris. In a misguided attempt to trap him into marriage, Sally became pregnant. When she realized that Snapper was committed to Chris, she stepped aside. Pierre married Sally so that her baby would have a father. Later Pierre was killed during a robbery at the restaurant, and a widowed Sally left town with her infant son." Something tells me Sally freshened herself up at some point in time and returned with son in tow to Genoa City, Wisconsin. Am I right?
As for the recipes, quite frankly, they are pretty "sterile." William J. Bell, one of the creators of the daytime drama, offers up his recipe for Incredible Pot Roast.
A note about the food scenery:
Whether it's a candlelit dinner for two at the lush Colonnade Room, or an intimate picnic on a tropical Caribbean beach, food has always served as a splendid aphrodisiac to help propel The Young and the Restless' intriguing love stories. The writers add notes to the scripts suggesting what foods they envision for a particular scene that includes a meal, such as a dinner Nikki might be hosting at the Newman ranch...If the scenes continue over more than one episode, such as a wedding or holiday party, the food is set up again to look exactly the same as the episode that was taped previously. Multitiered wedding cakes usually have at least one layer of actual cake; the rest are Styrofoam. While the episode is being taped, the only time actors actually eat the food is when they're supposed to be eating in the scenes. After the last scene is taped, however, the cast and crew are invited to enjoy the food.
Thirty nine of the recipes in the book were contributed by the show's actors. In addition to the recipes, there are sidebars which garnish the ebb and flow of the related story lines.
The book is divided into eight chapters. Since I rarely, if ever, post recipes for us (or is that we:) that are single, I thought I would take this opportunity and select a recipe from the chapter titled Recipes for Singles. May I present, Waffled Swiss Cheese & Mustard Sandwich in its entirety.
As a final rinse, how about these Seven Layer Cookies?
Sabryn Genet's Seven Layer Cookies: Sabryn Genet's (Tricia) advice for this fun cookie is "vary according to personal taste." The greatest effort is to open all the packages. The base is a graham cracker crust mix. Then, going up the layers, are chocolate, butterscotch, walnuts, coconut, and sweetened condensed milk. The seventh layer must be the one that might start growing on your hips if you eat all of these glorious sweetnesses.
1 pkg. graham cracker crumb mix with amount of butter and sugar as directed on package.
1 small bag chocolate chips
1 small bag butterscotch chips
1 small bag chopped walnuts
1 small bag flaked coconut
1 small can sweetened condensed milk
Spray 13 x 9-inch metal pan with vegetable oil. Following directions on the graham cracker crumb box, add butter and sugar. Press crust firmly down in pan. Sprinkle on chocolate chips. Cover with butterscotch chips. Top with chopped walnuts. Top with coconut. Lightly cover with condensed milk. Bake at 350 degrees until brown on top, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Cut into squares. Note: If using a glass pan, lower heat to 325 degrees. Watch for burning on the bottom. Makes 36 squares.
James Thurber once sized up soap operas and sandwiches. I find this rather ironic considering, one of Thurber's most famous characters was Walter Mitty; Pocketa-Pocketa-Pocketa. Oh that thumping noise of Mitty's. It sounds somewhat like the agitator in a washing machine:)
Between thick slices of advertising, spread twelve minutes of dialogue, add predicament, villainy, and female suffering in equal measure, throw in a dash of nobility, sprinkle with tears, season with organ music, cover with a rich announcer sauce, and serve five times a week.source
Tune in Sunday; National Black Forest Cake Day, for next week's lineup.
Now a word from our "sponsor" (not really:) Don't forget National Spanish Paella Day tomorrow; follow that link for Emeril's New New Orleans Paellaya.