Sphere Magazine, November 1973

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Sphere Nov 73

This is one of my favorite November issues of the vintage Sphere magazines.  I love Thanksgiving ideas and cool weather cooking.  One Thanksgiving menu from a family in downstate Illinois features not turkey but roast duck and dumplings. Also on the menu are fried sweet potatoes, rutabagas with brown butter, pepper-bean casserole, spicy applesauce mold, corn relish, buttermilk buns, grandma’s mincemeat pie, and the family favorite, Lavon’s pumpkin squares that I wanted to try as an alternative to pumpkin pie.  After one bite my husband declared that he may never want regular pumpkin pie again.

Pumpkin dessert w-pumpkins & leaves

A rich and buttery graham cracker crust is topped with a cream cheese layer and baked.  When cooled, a creamy yet light pumpkin layer is spread over the cream cheese layer and chilled.  I have seen many recipes similar over the years with the same ingredients and layering, but none have tasted like this one.  This one is very special.

Pumpkin dessert on paisley napkin

It’s so pretty and cuts so beautifully, I couldn’t stop taking photos of it!

Another article called “The Bountiful Bazaar” brought back memories of church bazaar’s of my childhood, when everything was homemade, from the crafts to the foods.  I loved this photo of the ladies selling their wares.

Church bazaar

Bountiful indeed!  Look at that table!  Many of the recipes are in this issue like divinity fudge, toffee squares, black walnut fudge, stained glass candy, peanut butter fondant (made with leftover Thanksgiving mashed potatoes!), peanut brittle, banana bread, cranberry-fruit nut bread, caramel apple cookies, gumdrop cookies, and pies galore- cherry, apricot, and raisin.  There’s more, but aren’t you ready to jump into this photo?

Other articles include a hearty country breakfast idea, a gourmet get-together party with friends, a cooking lesson page on how to make eggs in aspic (gorgeous), and another favorite, holiday breads.  The variety of breads ranged from mashed potato doughnuts and brown bread, to fancy yeast breads like a cardamom Christmas crown, an almond-crusted loaf with almond paste, and a black walnut kuchen.

As I said, this issue is a bounty for Thanksgiving and fall weather cooking, but you must have the recipe for the pumpkin squares.  Guaranteed to be a hit!

Pumpkin dessert bite on marble

5.0 from 3 reviews
Lavon's Pumpkin Squares
  • For Crust:
  • 1-3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 24 single graham crackers)
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • For Cream Cheese Layer:
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 package block-style cream cheese (8 ounces), softened
  • For Pumpkin Layer:
  • 1 can (15 ounces) 100% pure Pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 3 egg whites
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Topping:
  • 1 cup chilled whipping cream
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
  2. For crust:
  3. Mix graham cracker crumbs and ⅓ cup sugar. Stir in melted butter. Pat into the bottom of prepared baking pan; set aside.
  4. For cream cheese layer:
  5. Beat the 2 eggs, ¾ cup sugar, and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Pour over the graham cracker crust and smooth out evenly. Bake for 20 minutes. Set on wire rack to cool.
  6. For pumpkin layer:
  7. Beat pumpkin, egg yolks, ½ cup sugar, the milk, salt, and cinnamon in top of a double boiler. Cook over boiling water, stirring frequently until thick, about 5 minutes. In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin on cold water. Stir over low heat just until dissolved; stir into pumpkin mixture. Set aside to cool.
  8. When cooled, beat the egg whites in electric mixer until foamy. Gradually beat in the ¼ cup sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. Gently fold beaten egg whites into cooled pumpkin mixture. Pour over the cream cheese layer in pan and refrigerate until very cold and set, at least 3 hours.
  9. To serve: Beat whipping cream and 1 Tablespoon sugar until stiff. During last minute of beating, add vanilla. To serve, cut dessert into squares and garnish with whipped cream. Note: It's also great without whipped cream! Makes 15 squares.

Pumpkin dessert bite on paisley


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15 Responses to Sphere Magazine, November 1973

  1. November 2, 2015 at 8:34 am #

    That looks like a party treat to me!

  2. March 18, 2016 at 11:27 am #

    This is my very favorite recipe for Thanksgiving. I made it when I received the November 1973 Sphere magazine and everybody loved Lavon’s Pumpkin Squares for their Thanksgiving dessert. I have the original recipe but couldn’t remember where I got it and am glad that I found it on the Internet. I usually mark my recipe with the information where I got the recipe and the date but for some reason didn’t do it to this recipe card.I can now mark my recipe card with the information, Thank you so much !!.

    • March 21, 2016 at 8:14 pm #

      So glad you found me! Hope you come back to check out my monthly Sphere blogs. I agree, the pumpkin squares are the best!

  3. November 21, 2016 at 2:53 pm #

    I made these when I received the November 1973 magazine also and they were a hit then. They still get rave reviews whenever I bring them someplace and they are one of my families’ favorite Fall desserts! Sphere was also my favorite recipe magazine – almost all of the recipes I tried were delicious. So sad it stopped.

    • November 22, 2016 at 11:52 pm #

      Hi Linda- It’s one of our favorites around here too. So many people miss this wonderful vintage magazine and I’m thrilled when they google Sphere and find other enthusiasts here at my blog. Hardly a week goes by where I don’t hear from someone asking for a recipe or just sharing a Sphere memory. Thanks so much for writing.

  4. November 23, 2016 at 8:27 am #

    Hi Debbie, we have had Lavon’s Pumpkin Squares since at least 1973 when the recipe was published in Sphere. Do you know who Lavon was? It seems to me the article indicates the original recipe precedes 1973. Interesting to note that who ever created this recipe appears lost to history.

    • November 23, 2016 at 2:45 pm #

      Hi Jim- What a great question for a great recipe! According to the Sphere article, Lavon was Lavon Biggs of Dixon, Illinois. Three generations of Biggs (this was written in 1973, so more likely now!) have been celebrating Thanksgiving at Grandma and Grandpa Biggs’ place. Much of the menu is a repeat performance, with some of the recipes from great-great grandmother Biggs who tucked them in her trunk on a ship coming here from Scotland. Now Lavon said, she likes mixing some new recipes with the old like the wonderful Pumpkin Squares. The recipe originally came from a publication called “Farm Wife News,” which Lavon read avidly. The full family Thanksgiving menu is listed as follows: Roast Duck with onion-sage dumplings, fried sweet potatoes, spicy applesauce mold, rutabagas in brown butter, pepper-bean casserole, corn relish (all vegetables from their own garden), buttermilk buns with grape jelly, Grandma Biggs’ mincemeat pie, and the famous pumpkin squares.

  5. June 14, 2022 at 11:41 am #

    I just lost this magazine in moving. We had brunches and I used at least 3 recipes out ofbthis issue!! The glazed yeast doughnut recipe is so awesome and several others! I had a subscription back then and looked forward to every new one.

    • June 14, 2022 at 7:39 pm #

      Linda, I agree- this is a great issue! Do you remember the other recipes you liked? I can always send them to you.

      • November 27, 2022 at 2:53 pm #

        Debbie, I loved hearing from you. I was looking for a reply in the wrong places.
        The recipes from the party in Illinois featured were probably the ones I used. If my memory is correct, there should be one from that article for Yeast Doughnuts that just melt in your mouth. I would just grab my “old” magazine this time of year and make several for friends and family gatherings from that part of the issue.
        Thank you so very much for replying to my message. My Husband was diagnosed with Cancer two years ago and that was the reason for the quick downsize move.
        We had lived in a large home for 35 years and I had this magazine marked PLEASE SAVE but it probably did not register with those helping us go thru a long journey.
        Bernie miss doing well and that is the important thing.
        Again, God Bless and thank you for being so kind. Linda

        • November 28, 2022 at 1:43 pm #

          Hi Linda- It’s so nice to hear from you! First thing- I’m so glad your Bernie is doing well now, but sorry you lost your Sphere in the move. I remember that article and those doughnuts. I found the recipe and will send it to you, so check your email soon!

  6. October 3, 2022 at 4:24 pm #

    Hi! I just discovered your blog while doing an internet search for Sphere Magazine. I remember Sphere magazine from when I was a young teen, especially this November 1973 issue and the December 1973 issue. I loved to bake and craft, especially at the holidays, so the November and December issues were always my favorites. Thank you for posting the recipe for Lavon’s Pumpkin Squares. And I love the photo of the bake sale – those ladies look like they are having a great time, and I want to buy up the whole table of goodies! I don’t remember what happened to my copies of the magazine, they must not have survived a move or a clear out at some point over the years. I’ll have to keep an eye out on eBay for a favorite issue. Thank you for all of your Sphere posts!

    • October 3, 2022 at 9:24 pm #

      Hi Diane! I am always happy to hear from a Sphere enthusiast. I love those pumpkin squares too! If you ever think of an old recipe you remember, I have all the issues and can find a recipe for you. Thank you for writing!

  7. December 9, 2023 at 3:02 pm #


    I received a handful of my grandmother’s recipe cards. I have never made this particular recipe, not sure if it was worth it, though I should have known she wouldn’t have written it down if it wasn’t spectacular. Luckily for me I just googled the magazine and date as my grandma always sourced her cards. I so happily stumbled upon your blog. I do not know if you still read comments here but I thought I’d leave one just in case. Seeing the photo of this recipe I instantly remembered my grandma had made this for me. I was born 9 years after its publication, but my birthday is in November and my grandma loved to spoil me with treats. She passed away when I was 6, but seeing your blog uncovered a very sweet memory for me. I have very few memories of this incredibly special person- what happened just now for me was a little bit of magic. Thank you

    • December 9, 2023 at 10:57 pm #

      Hello Kay- Your comment and story brought tears to my eyes. There is something very special like a sweet memory of grandmothers. I have had the same experience with recipes and cooking with my grandmother. She has been gone a long time and I miss her every day. Just today I took her handwritten sugar cookie recipe out of my recipe box to make them for Christmas, as I do every year. I am so happy you took the time to write. I read all the comments that come in, even if I’m a little late. Thank you for making my day with your kind thoughts. I hope you come back again.
      P.S. I almost forgot to say how much I love this pumpkin dessert! It’s one of my all-time favorite Sphere recipes.

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