Everyone thinks the foods from the decade of their childhood were the best — even though some retro dishes were, in hindsight, really gross. Nothing tastes better than bittersweet nostalgia. And with food trends flowing in and out of vogue, there are things you were served when you were a kid that today’s youngest generation has never even heard of.
Of course, there are some timeless dishes that will never go out of style. Hamburgers, for instance, have been served at summer barbecues for generations. Every home cook worth their salt knows how to make a roast chicken. But for the most part, people just don’t make food like they used to.
Some of these changes are because what’s considered “healthy” has changed so radically over the years. There’s a reason mayo-soaked “salads” aren’t cool anymore. But some other changes in cooking trends are harder to explain. Like, why have deviled eggs remained so popular while other party apps, like fondue, have fallen out of fashion? What ever happened to family dinners of beef stroganoff and chicken cordon bleu?
There are definitely some recipes no one makes anymore that should never make a comeback. Ambrosia just might be the weirdest dessert food anyone’s ever served. And please, let’s leave gelatin molds in the 1970s where they belong. But other gems have been unfortunately left behind — it’s time these 25 dishes make their way back on today’s tables.
Cinnamon toast is the best thing to happen since sliced bread. Sugary and sweet, cinnamon toast was always the perfect side for scrambled eggs — and a fabulous after-school snack. Just toast some bread, spread it with butter (or, if you’re making it in true ‘90s fashion, margarine), and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Yum!
Cooking brunch at home? Consider bringing back this sugar-coated classic. Making a Dutch baby pancake involves first baking a puffy egg soufflé for a base, then adding a layer of fruits sprinkled with a generous amount of powdered sugar. Cut it into slices and there’s enough brunch for the whole family to enjoy!
Tea sandwiches were a staple of kids’ birthday parties and other events, probably because they were so easy to make but still looked cute on a platter. You can cut the miniature sandwiches into any shape you like — we recommend hearts or stars — and fill them with whatever your heart desires. The tea sandwiches we remember were made with white bread and filled with things like strawberry cream cheese or cucumbers and mayonnaise.
Fon-don’t forget about this fun party classic! Fondue’s popularity peaked in the ‘70s, but there’s nothing not to like about the appetizer. Oozing cheese, melted chocolate, bread for dipping… Sign us up. Fondue is best enjoyed with a crowd, so get some friends together and throw a fondue party — here’s a simple guide for hosting one!
There are literally hundreds of ways to make boring chicken breast into an exciting weeknight dinner, but we think apricot chicken should make a comeback. The tangy, sweet flavor of apricot jam elevates breaded or crusted chicken tenders to the next level.
Mini meatballs used to be a popular party appetizer. Sweet and sour sauces usually included barbecue sauce and some kind of fruit, like pineapple or citrus — this odd variety used grape jelly! Despite how strange they sound, these little bites were delicious.
It sure doesn’t look pretty, but beef stroganoff is a cozy, comforting classic we want back on our dinner table. Beef stroganoff was popular back in the 1950s and involves a generous portion of pasta (usually egg noodles, to best soak up the sauce) topped with creamy blend of mushrooms and beef.
This French-inspired dish made a comeback in America in the ‘90s, but has fallen out of fashion since. But this easy-to-make chicken dinner is always a crowd-pleaser. It’s typically made of baked, breaded chicken stuffed with layers of ham and cheese.
Another classic stuffed chicken dish was chicken Kiev, a retro dinner idea straight from the 1960s. Chicken Kiev is actually named for the city of Kiev in Ukraine — even though it was probably cooked up in France. Chicken breasts are coated with breadcrumbs and stuffed with garlic butter and bacon.
Remember these? These “salads” weren’t really salads at all. They were a classic side dish from the good old days when the spinach in green-colored pasta counted as a vegetable. Perfect for picnics, barbecues, or just a quick side dish for dinner at home, these pasta salads were usually made with Italian dressing and add-ins like olives and diced ham.
You might not want to order one on a first date, but sloppy Joes are always a good time. They first came around in the 1930s during the Great Depression as a way to save meat. They also get a bad reputation for when they were served as a sub-par school lunch. But when you make them right, these sandwiches taste great — we certainly looked forward to eating them when we were kids.
This once-popular diner menu item was invented in 1897 by an American doctor by the name of J.H. Salisbury, who was an early advocate of a low-carb diet for weight loss. Salisbury steak isn’t actually steak at all — it’s a patty of ground beef topped with gravy and mushrooms, usually served on the side of mashed potatoes and green beans. The TV dinner version of Salisbury steak can remain a thing of the past; but done right, this dish is delicious.
It’s not the healthiest thing you can serve for dinner, but a pot pie is cozy and comforting to the max. A flaky crust filled with creamy sauce and chicken… There’s a reason it’s such a family favorite! If you really search, you can even find some vegetables hiding in all those carbs and cream: peas and carrots usually, and sometimes even green beans.
Looking for a new way to cook potatoes? Enjoy a blast from the past and whip up a cheesy tray of scalloped potatoes. Who wouldn’t love to eat layers of starchy sliced potato mixed with tons of herbs, butter, and cheese? We’re not sure why this dish ever fell out of favor.
You can make all kinds of wacky dishes using a tube of crescent roll dough — biscuit dough, too. But the classic crescent ring has all but disappeared from most dinner menus. Crescent rings are large rings of crescent roll dough stuffed with some mixture of foods. They can be made sweet, like this crescent caramel swirl, but are usually made savory. Typically, the dough is stuffed with mayo-soaked chicken or tuna salad.
No one made it through childhood without eating family dinners of mashed potatoes and meatloaf. Learning how to make your best meatloaf is practically a rite of passage for home cooks. Some people like theirs with ketchup, others swear by barbecue sauce. Can’t you still picture the peas your parents tried to hide in slices of red meat? Sure, it’s not the most aesthetic food around, but it tastes like nostalgia.
A cake that requires zero baking skills — we’re into it. Icebox cakes are usually made of layers of cookies and whipped cream. You simply allow the layers to sit in the freezer overnight and bam, you’ve got a cake. You could keep it simple with vanilla wafer cookies and plain whipped cream, but there are so many decadent variations to try!
Baking whoopie pies was in vogue for a while, but for some reason people stopped. Bring back the whoopie pie! It’s basically a fun hybrid of a cupcake and a sandwich: two layers of rich cake with creamy marshmallow filling mushed in the middle. The original whoopie pie is made with chocolate cake and a plain marshmallow filling. But you can make them any flavor you want, ranging from pumpkin to red velvet.
What’s the easiest way to make a banana split? Show it the door! Dad jokes aside, this old-fashioned dessert is due for a comeback. They’re as fun to make as they are to eat — you can choose all kinds of fun toppings to pile on. Whipped cream, walnuts, chocolate fudge… The sky is the limit. It’s bananas that this treat was every forgotten.
We’re not talking about chia, though that stuff is good, too. We’re talking dessert puddings: the chocolate pudding, banana pudding, and vanilla pudding of your childhood. So good! Store-bought pudding cups have nothing on the real, homemade stuff. Even the chocolate pudding from a mix is a good time — and easy enough to make that the kids can help out! Don’t forget to top yours with whipped cream.
One of the best ways to use stale bread: Turn it into bread pudding! Bread pudding is basically a sweet, dense casserole of bread and we are all about it. Sugar, carbs, and cream, oh my.
Is it a dessert? Is it a vegetable? Truly, these loaves are the best of both worlds. Spread a slice of zucchini bread with butter, jam, or Nutella for a sweet mid-day treat.
You might have heard of baked Alaska, but you’ve probably never tried it. It’s nowhere near as popular as it was back in the ‘60s, and that’s a real shame. Besides being extremely difficult to make, baked Alaska is the dessert of your dreams. It consists of a sponge cake topped with ice cream and smothered in meringue, baked in the oven and often served at the dinner table in flames. A baked Alaska is impressive to serve and even more impressive to bake — just like these other difficult-to-make desserts, it’ll leave your guests in awe.
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