Remember the 1950s?
Published March 8, 2006
Remember the 1950s?
I don’t. But I’ve seen a few episodes of “Leave it to Beaver,” so I have a pretty good idea of what the decade was like.
Houses were spotless, husbands smoked pipes, and moms were completely fulfilled getting dressed up every day to do laundry.
And the food was utterly disgusting.
It’s true. This was the same generation that thought carrots and raisins tasted good together, especially if you washed it down with a tall glass of buttermilk. Something was going on with peoples’ taste buds back then, and it wasn’t pretty.
And now, this culinary phenomenon has been captured in a book called “The Gallery of Regrettable Food.”
(My brother Brian, who, like me, is always scanning the Internet for inane information with which to fill brain space, ran across the book this week and passed it on to me.)
This fascinating book details, in full-color, stomach-churning photos from actual 1950s cookbooks, every conceivable culinary nightmare to grace American tables during the Eisenhower administration.
There are meat and Jell-O recipes guaranteed to turn anyone into a vegetarian. There are recipes involving coffee that shouldn’t be legal. There’s a recipe for 7-Up salad that calls for lime Jell-O, vinegar and hot apple sauce.
Here are some other offenders:
• “Meatballs in Pink Sauce.” What makes it pink? If you find out, don’t tell me. From the Knudsen Dairy Products Cookbook.
• “Corned Beef Salad Loaf.” Another horrifying meat and Jell-O concoction. Also from the Knudsen company.
• A recipe that begins with “Wash and dry rabbit, cut into serving portions.”
• “Chicken Salad Upside Down.” This treat from a picnic cookbook is made and served in Dixie cups.
• And my favorite: “Dr Pepper Jell-O with Olives.” It looks just like it sounds. I would include a photo, but this is a family newspaper and I don’t want to scare the kids.
Speaking of kids, I found something just for them in a
7-Up cookbook. The classic children’s treat, “7-Up in Milk.”
Yep, mix equal parts 7-Up and milk to make a “... delicious blended food drink,” the cookbook says. Hey, I’ve seen children ingest some pretty wild stuff. Even I was known to knock back some Elmer’s Glue once in a while. But milk and 7-Up? Just say no, kids!
These recipes reminded me of something that happened to my dad in the ‘50s. He was having a dinner at a friend’s house when his friend’s mother served something she called “Olive Pie” for dessert. The pie consisted of green olives entombed in a glob of bright green Jell-O. He still has a hard time talking about it. For years, I thought my dad was making this story up. I’m sorry, Dad. I believe you now.
I realize that not all food was this scary in the ‘50s. My grandmother was a homemaker back then and she had a heavenly chicken and dumplings recipe that didn’t call for any vinegar, olives or Jell-O. These cookbooks are giving ‘50s-era cooking a bad rap.
The truth is that I’ve always wanted to travel back in time to the ‘50s. The music and cars from that era remain unsurpassed. But I know one thing. If I ever find my time machine, I’m taking a sack lunch.