This rich dish is made by smothering diced chicken and vegetables with a cream sauce and serving it over rice, pasta, or bread. Even though it was most likely invented in the late 1800s, it didn’t really catch on in popularity until the 1950s.
Named after opera singer Luisa Tetrazzini, Tettrazini is a dish made with poultry or seafood (usually chicken or turkey) and mushrooms in a creamy sauce flavored with wine or sherry, served over pasta. It’s sometimes cooked as a casserole with a cheesy, browned crust. Some recipes include canned cream of mushroom soup, because of its ability to build a rich sauce.
The secret behind chiffon cake’s moistness and airy lightness was a mystery from its invention in 1927 until 1948, when the recipe was purchased by General Mills. That secret? Vegetable oil, which (unlike butter) remained liquid at room temperature and kept the cake from going stale. It was one of the most popular homemade desserts during the 1950s.
Usually referred to by a nickname that we’re not allowed to print on a family website (S.O.S. for short), creamed chipped beef on toast is made by topping toast with (usually canned) thin slivers of dried processed (“chipped”) beef that have been rehydrated in a thick and creamy white sauce. It was served regularly to soldiers during WWII, who brought the recipe back home with them after the war. Today it’s still found on the menu at some restaurants, primarily on the East Coast.
“Deviled,” in reference to food, just means “made spicy,” but today we only really see the term in reference to deviled eggs. In the ’50s, however, deviled ham was also quite popular, especially in canned form produced by Underwood. It’s a spread made of ground ham with seasonings, and if you’re a fan we hope you’ve realized by now that the homemade stuff is much better than the canned.
For a hearty meal right from a can, during the 1950s the go-to was Dinty Moore beef stew, with beef, potatoes, and carrots in gravy.
Created in 1955 by Campbell’s as a way to sell more cream of mushroom soup, green bean casserole quickly caught on as a quintessential Thanksgiving (and dinner party) side dish. In many ways, it’s the ultimate ’50s dish: It’s a casserole (check), made with nothing but canned green beans (check) and canned cream of mushroom soup (check), topped with canned fried onions (check). And almost despite of itself, it actually tastes good!
Molded gelatin was all the rage in the 1950s, and it took some pretty surprising forms. Of course sweet applications were most popular (usually made in a Bundt pan), but there were plenty of savory ones as well, including a tuna mold in the shape of a fish. At the end of the day, though, it was a great way to use up a family’s leftovers, and it was neat and tidy. That said, this is one trendy food we’re glad has fallen out of fashion.
For a quick and hearty breakfast, there was always something satisfying about dumping a can of Mary Kitchen hash (either corned beef, roast beef, or sausage) into a frying pan, watching it sizzle, and topping it with a fried egg or two. The hash, which is made of ground meat mixed with chopped potatoes, is still around today.
This lunchmeat can still usually be found behind the deli case at supermarkets alongside the bologna and roast beef, but it’s not nearly as popular today as it was in the ’50s. It’s made with a similar grind as bologna (that is, basically liquefied), however it’s usually made in a loaf pan instead of a sausage (like bologna is). It’s usually heavily seasoned with garlic, and is best identified by the pimento-stuffed green olives embedded in it.
Back in the ’50s, folks thought of all kinds of ways to fill the ridge in a stick of celery. From “ants on a log” (peanut butter and raisins) to cream cheese, Roquefort, garlic, and olives, you knew you came to the right party when there was stuffed celery.
The ’50s was the era of TV Dinners, and Swanson’s turkey dinner – the first one to hit the market, in 1953 – is the most iconic one of all. Just pull it out of the freezer, pop it in the oven at 425 for 25 minutes, and you’re good to go.
Casseroles were massively popular in the 1950s, primarily because they could be mostly made with inexpensive canned foods. To make the most (in)famous of all casseroles, tuna noodle casserole, all you had to do was mix up some canned tuna, canned peas or corn, shredded Cheddar, and cream of mushroom soup, top it with some crushed potato chips or canned fried onions, and bake.