Associations are big pamphleteers; the amount of promotional material available from some organizations makes tourist bureaus look tight-fisted. Much of the information is free, and a lot of it is helpful--or at least amusing.

Recipes based on the group's special interest ingredient generally fill the most pages. But there's always history (the Great Wall of China was built by workers who invented sauerkraut, Mayan Indians were among the first to chew gum), tips (to re-crisp soggy potato chips, try heating them on a cookie sheet at 300 degrees for 10 or 15 minutes), production figures (Americans consume tuna at the annual rate of 1.5 billion cans each year), nutritional information (italian dressing has 83 calories per tablespoon, roquefort 76), processing techniques, serving suggestions and so on.

The send-aways listed below represent just a fraction of the food-pamphlet biz. Other good sources for association information are the Encyclopedia of Associations (available at local libraries) and the American Society for Association Executives, located here at 1575 I St. NW.

For a listing of food associations only, The International Foodservice Manufacturers Association in Chicago publishes such a directory in its IFMA Encyclopedia of the Foodservice Industry. (A copy is available at the National Restaurant Association's library, call 638-6100). And not unexpectedly, there's an association of Food Industry Association Executives located in Austin, Tex.

Unless otherwise noted, the information listed below is free.

Cling Peach Advisory Board: For "the story of California's gold that grows on trees" and a recipe booklet, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Box 7111, San Francisco, Calif. 94120.

The National Chewing Gum Association: Send a self-addressed stamped envelope for the pamphlet, "The Story of Chewing Gum" to 366 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10017.

Potato Chip/Snack Food Association: A collection of pamphlets, including "How Science Sees the Potato Chip," "Facts About the $4.5 Billion Snack Food Industry" and "34 Crunchy Recipes." Call 920-4805 or write: Potato Chip/Snack Food Association, 1735 Jefferson Davis Hwy., Suite 903, Arlington, Va. 22202.

The Tuna Research Foundation: Send 50 cents for the recipe booklet "Everyone in the Kitchen with Tuna," to 1101 17th St. NW. 20036.

Pickle Packers International: Pickle novelties are numerous: a certificate of membership to the Dill Pickle Club, pickle pot holders, pickle pens, an "inflatable pickle person," a recipe pamphlet called "Stop! Save the Pickle Liquid," the Pickle Peace Plan, instructions for the Pickle Diet. None of it is free, so you must send for the association's "Teaching Aids" sheet that lists its products. Bill the Dill says everyone in St. Charles (population 17,000) knows him, so just write: Pickle, St. Charles, Ill. 60174.

The National Kraut Packers Association: The sauerkraut recipe booklet is free, the Royal Wedding gift "Put Some Kraut in Your Life" is 25 cents. Write: Sauerkraut, St. Charles, Ill. 60174.

International Natural Sausage Casing Association: For a booklet on how to make sausage at home, plus deli recipes, send a self-addressed envelope to: INSCA, 710 N. Rush St., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

Denmark Cheese Association: For the recipe pamphlets, "Cheese From Denmark" or "Say Danish Please," write: 570 Taxter Rd., Elmsford, N.Y. 10523.

The Association for Dressings and Sauces: An 18-page booklet called "Salad Dressings & Sauces: Plain Facts and Fancy Fare," which includes, among other information, salad recipes, other ways to use salad dressings and calorie contents of salad dressings. Send $1 to cover postage and handling to Department WP, Post Office Box 720299, Atlanta, Ga. 30328.

The Glutamate Association: For the pamphlets "The Remarkable Story of Monosodium Glutamate," "MSG Equals Flavor," "MSG and Sodium in the Diet," write 5775 Peachtree-Dunwoody Rd., Suite 500-D, Atlanta, Ga. 30342.

Mustard Information Bureau: Send a self-addressed stamped envelope for "Dijon Mustard: The Third Seasoning," (the first two, they say, are salt and pepper) to TAL Communications, 35 Airport Rd., Morristown, N.J. 07960.

The Vinegar Institute: For the booklet "Versatile Vinegar," send 50 cents to P.O. Box 720215, Atlanta, Ga. 30358.