Retro Dishes You Won’t Believe Existed

Seriously, who thought that these were a good idea?


Who wants some Spam 'n Limas?

In food, as in life, trends come and go, then come back again. Certain foods, like fondue, rose to prominence in the 1960s before falling by the wayside, but later came back into vogue. While the resurgence of certain once-trendy foods is welcome, there are some retro delicacies we’d be happy to never see again.

Retro Dishes You Won’t Believe Existed (Slideshow)

For reasons that completely elude us, there was a time when encasing food in gelatin was a thing. Sweet, savory, leafy, fishy, meaty… it made no difference. There was also a time when bananas were considered a perfectly reasonable option for a dish’s main component. Food in loaf form was also popular. Cookbooks with names like McCall’s Great American Recipe Card Collection and Betty Crocker’s Dinner in a Dish Cookbook trotted these dishes out as quick and easy ways to feed your family and impress your guests, and similar recipes were also featured in magazines like Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens.

We’re not sure if dishes like these were all some sort of prank orchestrated by the editors of these magazines, or whether Betty Crocker and Better Homes were getting serious kickbacks from the mayonnaise, gelatin, and banana industries. But believe it or not, everything here was published with complete sincerity, and, presumably, some people actually cooked these recipes and fed them to their families or friends. We take a lot of pity on the poor souls who were forced to eat any of this stuff.

So the next time you’re at a dinner party and the meat is slightly overcooked, or your hosts serve sweet potatoes and you just hate sweet potatoes, be glad that you’re not confronted with bananas wrapped in ham and doused in hollandaise, for Pete’s sake. Things could always be worse, and in the '60s and '70s, at least the food, they were.

Here are 10 specialties from those heady days: a collection of dishes we should be glad we’ll (most likely) never be forced to eat.

Ham and Bananas Hollandaise

Yes, this is just what it sounds like: In McCall’s 1973 Great American Recipe Card Collection, bananas are given a truly royal treatment that involves ham and hollandaise. Why did anyone think that this was a good idea?

Liver Sausage Pineapple

Liver sausage exists (it’s usually called liverwurst), as do pineapples. Why a Better Homes and Gardens employee thought to sculpt a giant glob of liver sausage to look like a pineapple, the world will never know. Yes, to make this dish, someone mixed a whole lot of liver sausage with gelatin, formed it into a big tube, covered it with a lemony, mayonnaise-based… shell (?), then topped it with a pineapple top. To think of all the time it took to make this dish… that’s time that could have been much better spent. 

Click here for more ridiculous retro dishes.

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