Another item I received for Christmas immediately took me back to my younger days as soon as I saw it; my mom gave me a Kitchen-Klatter cookbook from the early 70’s. Mom might not even realize how much Kitchen-Klatter is ingrained into my early memories, but she knows I like old cookbooks, so the gift fit.
Kitchen-Klatter seemed like a daily staple at our house in Lincoln, Nebraska, in the early 70s. Mom would have the kitchen radio on during the day, hosting the voices of Leanna Driftmier and Evelyn Birkby. Driftmier was another one of those radio pioneers who had a very important job in Midcentury (and later) years — being a friendly voice to women who worked at home. Although I don’t remember the program in detail, I do remember women’s voices coming over the radio, presumably Driftmier’s and Birkby’s, giving slow directions to one recipe or another. Although Kitchen-Klatter was only a Midwest program, it also had its own line of flavorings, as well as a newsletter packed full of the recipes covered on the show, as well as other helpful hints and tips. Many women posting casually on cooking/homemaking bulletin boards admit to having “bags full” of the old Kitchen-Klatter magazines that were passed down from their mothers or grandmothers. Lucky gals!
Driftmier’s program seemed to be similar to that of Wynn Speece, who was known as the “Neighbor Lady” on WNAX out of Yankton, South Dakota. Here’s a short biography on her from the Iowa Women’s Archives, University of Iowa:
Leanna Field Driftmier, radio broadcaster and founder of “Kitchen-Klatter,” was born on April 3, 1886 in Shenandoah, Iowa. Upon finishing high school in 1905, she taught country school near Essex, Iowa. In 1906 she was asked to care for her grandparents in California. While there she attended Los Angeles State Normal College, resuming teaching in 1911 in San Bernardino, California. Returning to Iowa in 1912 for a family visit, she met Martin H. Driftmier whom she subsequently married in 1913. A widower, Martin Driftmier brought two children into the marriage. The Driftmiers ultimately raised seven children.
In 1926 Leanna Driftmier established her own homemaker program, “Kitchen-Klatter,” on radio station KFNF in Shenandoah, Iowa. KFNF was owned by her brother, Henry Field, an early developer of hybrid seed and founder of the Henry Field Seed Company in Shenandoah. In this half-hour program Driftmier discussed her family, recipes, philosophy, and whatever news seemed worth sharing. Beamed to six midwestern states, “Kitchen-Klatter” became the longest-running homemaker program in the history of radio. Driftmier celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the “Kitchen-Klatter” broadcasts in 1976. In 1954 Driftmier was the recipient of the Iowa Mother of the Year Award.
Here’s an excerpt from one of the magazines from 1947:
For more information on the Kitchen-Klatter founder and its contributors, here’s a Des Moines Register article.