While it may not feel like it, it’s been 50 years since the tumultuous year of 1968. In 1968, the Vietnam war raged, Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated, Richard Nixon was elected president, and millions of Americans sat down to dinner every night with their families to discuss the events of the day and enjoy a home-cooked meal. But what, exactly, was on the table? What food products were new and exciting? What were the top conversation topics? And what was on TV?
The simple act of sitting down for a family dinner hasn’t changed too much over the years, even though fewer and fewer families are regularly dining together (a 2016 survey found that 47 percent of parents share fewer meals with their families than when they were growing up). Many dishes and dining options that we take for granted today simply didn’t exist in the late ‘60s (good luck tracking down authentic Chinese food in the suburbs in 1968), but home cooking was, and is, by and large still dependent on simple, easy-to-prepare, inexpensive dishes, made a little more convenient with the help of some packaged foods.
In many ways, sitting down to enjoy a meal with your family has never been about the food that’s on the table; it’s about taking the time to connect and break bread together. The dishes and conversation topics (not to mention the hairdos) have certainly changed over the years, but ultimately what we remember is the time spent together. Read on to learn what this experience would have looked like for many Americans 50 years ago.