Do you remember Sau-Sea shrimp cocktail? When I was a kid, this was one of my favorite treats; my mother would buy them for semi-special occasions.
Sau-Sea cocktails consisted of tiny little shrimp, swimming in a bland, almost ketchupy, cocktail sauce and packed in small fluted juice glass. Each glass was sealed with a litho'd tin lid, as shown in the photo, and the glasses were reusable. Go to a church rummage sale and you'll find a testament to Sau-Sea's onetime popularity - you'll almost always find a dozen or more of those heavy little glasses for sale (often for about a dime each.) Up until the mid-eighties, when she finally sold off her own hoard in a tag sale, I bet you could tell how many times our family had eaten Sau-Sea shrimp cocktails by the number of old Sau-Sea tumblers lurking in my mother's kitchen.
When Sau-Sea first started business in the late 1940's, shrimp was a luxury food that most people almost never ate outside of a restaurant. These days, of course, you can get really good fresh or freshly-frozen shrimp at just about any supermarket, and they're big enough to actually see with the naked eye. Even so, sometimes I get nostalgic for Sau-Sea Shrimp Cocktail. It doesn't seem to be as ubiquitous as it once was, so I often try to make my own version.
|Thanks for selling me that|
bag of krill, Big Y.
I hardly ever find Sau-Sea shrimp cocktails in the store anymore. When I do, I rarely buy them. They're more expensive than when I was a kid, when the Waldbaum's Food Mart in town sold them for something like $1.25 for three little jars, and those little tiny shrimp just don't seem to be such a good deal as they used to. My perceptions of "shrimp cocktail" have changed since I was 7, I guess. And the Sau-Sea company has changed, too. In 1993 they decided to become a marketing company rather than a manufacturer. They stopped processing their own shrimp in Yonkers NY, released the 70 employees who had processed 10 tons of shrimp per day, and handed over production to a company in Virginia.
|Sau-Sea newspaper advertisement, c. 1960|