I have a small collection of old Be-Ro books including the one I bought for myself in the 1970's and a couple of very early editions of my mum's and grandma's. I updated my collection by buying the 40th edition a few years ago in a supermarket where they were sold with the flour. Copies of the current edition (41st) can be purchased directly from Be-Ro via their website. To do that click here.
I naively thought at one time that it might be fun to collect every one ever published but have noticed that they can now fetch a hefty price on Ebay. Consequently I don't think my collection will grow much more, unless I stumble across one or two in a charity shop somewhere. That's now less likely as charities are more wise to the value of things than they used to be owing to their volunteers being more internet savvy!
Be-Ro books were first published in 1923, nearly a hundred years ago, and are an interesting insight into social history. Looking at the earlier editions they were clearly written for the stay-at-home wife and her daughters, right up to those published in the 1970's. Since then they have become less housewifely. Over the decades well loved recipes have gradually been changed and new ones added to meet modern tastes and appetites as well as fashions in food.
The older editions can be difficult to date as they don't show the date of publication in them. Many of the early ones don't have an index either. As the Be-Ro book was originally published as a helpful booklet to go with the bags of flour that's not surprising.
Recently I decided to try to find out when one of my mum's favourite recipes, the one for rich coconut tartlets, first appeared in a Be-Ro book - the only recipe book she ever used. I wrote about the tartlets here and then set about finding how far back they first appeared in a Be-Ro book.
I have a copy of the 17th edition where they don't appear and the 21st edition where they do (I don't have any of the editions in between) but typically neither copy has the date of publication. So I wrote to Be-Ro to ask them. To my absolute amazement I had a quick reply from Be-Ro with a full list! So, it was as simple as that, all I had to do was ask!
It seems my mum's favourite recipe first appeared somewhere between 1954 and 1958, which does make sense. Being married in 1950 it seems logical that she would have first made them some time between those dates.
Here is the list of publication dates as given to me by Be-Ro:
41st & Current Edition 2009