These days, Boomers love to mock Millennials over the generation’s alleged obsession with avocado toast. However, these recipes from the not-so-distant past serve as a reminder that picking on someone's meal of choice is a two-way street.
From cakes filled with tuna fish and cottage cheese-slicked "salads" to gelatin encased meats and veggies, these vintage recipes from the 1970s and earlier aren’t for the faint of stomach — unless you're a Jell-O enthusiasts.
This ironically named "Perfection Salad" is a far-cry from perfection in our opinion. In fact, the only way to make a salad less exciting is to take all of those uncooked veggies and encase them in a tower of Jell-O.
Everyone loves a good finger sandwich at a get-together — or ripping off a hunk of one of those three-foot-long party subs. The only drawback? Those hors d'oeuvre-friendly sandwiches don’t have a super refined aesthetic. Enter the "Party Sandwich."
Crown Roast of Frankfurters
No, these hot dogs aren’t praying to the cold-cut deity Oscar Mayer, and they certainly aren’t trying to look like an octopus — at least, we don’t think that’s the goal here. Back in the day, it was all the rage to dress up cheaper food items by making them into (alleged) works of art.
Ham & Bananas Hollandaise
There’s nothing like eggs Benedict — an English muffin topped with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce. Throw in some ham? Sure, sounds great. Trade the bread for a banana? Absolutely not.
At first glance, this ad doesn’t look strange, until you realize the "gravy" is actually chocolate sauce. Unfortunately, Kraft — the makers of everyone’s favorite mac and cheese — are to blame for trying to dress up "the natural goodness of nature’s potato, the Potato."
Lime Cheese Salad
No, this isn’t some sort of handmade glass bowl from the ‘50s — it’s a Jell-O mold. There are more layers to this upsetting dish than you may see at first glance. If your eye is immediately drawn to the center of this dish, you aren’t alone. We’ll get to that.
Cup Steak Puddings
In theory, this recipe isn’t a terrible idea, but the execution seen on this old recipe card is lacking, to say the least. The card claims that you’ll be "charmed with these dainty little puddings — so wonderfully light and digestible when made with ‘Atora.’" If you’re wondering what Atora is — and why it’s a selling point — you aren’t alone.
We can’t tell what’s more comical about the image on the left: Is it the ridiculous pimento-olive eye or the fact that the ad is so insistent about the mold being "Real Cool!"? As far as the image on the right goes, it’s a toss up between the detailing, which looks more like red licorice than strips of pepper, or the strange abundance of decorative lemons.
Philadelphia Cream Cheese Melon
If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably wondered why every fruit salad has an overabundance of honey dew melon. To put it simply, the melon is a filler fruit — it’s no one’s favorite, but it takes up enough room to help round the salad out.
Ham in Aspic
By the Middle Ages, cooks discovered that meat broth could be thickened into a jelly, leading to the use of gelatin in meals. Popularized by a 19th-century French cooking technique, gelatin-based dishes became all the rage yet again in the 1950s, particularly in the U.S. Enter aspics.
7-Up & Milk
These 7Up ads from the 1950s shed light on a truly upsetting craze. Instead of adding chocolate syrup to milk, all the cool kids were mixing in 7Up, the "all-family drink." Back in the day, soft drinks claimed to have health benefits. 7Up, in particular, claimed to be so pure that even infants wanted to guzzle it.
Igloo, or snow hut shelters, are often associated with all Inuit and Eskimo peoples, but they were traditionally used only by the peoples of Canada’s Central Arctic and Greenland’s Thule area. Not only were 1950s-era Americans getting their facts wrong half the time, they were also guilty of appropriating and exoticizing other cultures.
Frozen Cheese Salad
While some dishes are best served cold, most are not best served frozen. Ice cream aside, a frozen meal usually means the chef didn’t prepare — or microwave — it properly. Believe it or not, this thoroughly unappealing recipe comes straight from the pages of a Weight Watchers cookbook.
Terrine of Garden Vegetables
Although vegetable terrines are common in other parts of the world, they aren’t an American staple — at least, not anymore. Perhaps the worst part of this particular item is the way it’s shaped and served like a four-layer birthday cake. A cake that traded buttercream for gelatin.
Monterey Soufflé Salad
The Monterey Soufflé Salad — the name sounds fancy, doesn’t it? Sadly, it’s no Caesar. It’s not even a Cobb. Instead, this one’s another one of those oh-so-popular "jello salads." The only lettuce you’ll find here is in the garnish.
After viewing this image, finding your appetite will be more difficult than finding a needle in a haystack — or should we say ham in an almond-stack? I really wish we didn’t have to say that, but here we are, looking at the Almonds-in-a-Haystack appetizer.
Absolutely haunting. Okay, the idea of serving up shrimp with some apple notes isn’t a terrible idea. What is terrible is the presentation factor here. As anyone who’s watched Chopped or MasterChef Junior knows, plating can make or break a dish.
Jellied Tomato Refresher
Under the heading "Snacks, Beverages and Light Meals" in the vintage Weight Watchers recipe cards, you’ll find this next gem. If you’ve ever thought, "Hmm, how can a Bloody Mary be 100% less appealing?" then wonder no further.
Avocado Filled with Ketchup
Look, if Miracle Whip and Hellmann’s mayo were going to corner the market on gelatin, tuna and ham-based products, Heinz ketchup had to find some sort of fresh avenue to claim. Most importantly, this dish — or artful condiment holder? — proves that Boomers love a good avocado too.
Piquant Herring Salad
This next one comes from a publication called the Farmer’s Wife. After assessing the old recipe card, we’re thinking she wasn’t the family’s go-to chef. Or maybe she just took inspiration from pickled herring dishes found in Norway, Poland and Germany.
Alternative Ways to Serve Thanksgiving Turkey
There’s nothing like turkey on Thanksgiving — and there’s nothing like the turkey in these recipes. Sure, many of us may scoop our cranberry sauce out of a can, but it seems essential that the turkey come off the bone.
Chilled Celery Log
Of all the vintage recipes to grace our list, this one is probably the least offensive. Celery pairs well with cream cheese and with artichoke dip, so it’s no wonder someone thought to condense the dip and the dip-delivery-method into one item.
Cottage Cheese-Salmon Salad
This one comes from a cookbook entitled My Great Recipes. A name like that is a surefire way to convince your readers that the dishes inside are good — great, even. Despite looking more like a loaf, this concoction is a salad.
To our 21st-century ears, the phrase "lettuce salad" sounds a bit redundant. But, in the not-so-recent-past, this moniker was essential. Almost anything could be dubbed a salad, with or without gelatin. Certainly, lettuce wasn’t a defining factor either.
Brussels Sprouts in a Noodle Mold
When you buy a house, you aren’t always going to get all the features you want. Sometimes, your dream home is great on the inside but lacking in the curb appeal department. That’s exactly what’s wrong with this dish: It’s not much to look at.
Ham ‘N’ Lima Bean Sadness Casserole
Comfort foods can do wonders when it comes to lifting one’s spirits. But, here, we have the antithesis of comfort food — a cold, Jell-O encased mound of lima beans, ham and … cheese? It’s hard to see.
Unlike apple pie, Celery Victor is never thought of as America’s food, but it was invented here in 1910 when head chef Victor Hirtzler at San Francisco’s St. Francis hotel … marinated some celery? We’re guessing there’s a good reason most folks haven’t tasted this alleged American classic.
The ad for Cranberry Candles warns readers that "You’ll start a whole new holiday tradition" if you choose to make these items. That’s a huge commitment for a more vertically-inclined salad. The concept was dreamt up by the fine folks over at Hellmann’s.
The name "Hostess Tree" was unfortunately snatched up by Oscar Mayer, purveyor of fine frankfurters and bologna, but we really, really wish Hostess — the brand behind Twinkies and Ho Hos — had thought of it first.
Spam & Bisquick Pancakes
We’ve all had those bare cupboard moments. You’re rifling through canned goods and a strange array of condiments, hoping you can cobble together a satisfactory (or at least edible) meal. This one takes two of the cupboard’s heaviest hitters — Spam and Bisquick — and pairs them.