Believe it or not, it’s been 50 years since the tumultuous year of 1968. In that year, the Vietnam war raged, Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated, and Richard Nixon was elected president, but millions of Americans still 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 served for dessert?
We took a deep dive into cooking and dining trends of 1968, and discovered that many of the dishes and dining options that we take for granted today simply didn’t exist in the late ‘60s; instead, 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.
That meant make-at-home desserts were quick, easy, and full of cream and sugar. The top recipes of 1968 included the Tunnel of Fudge Cake (which become a cultural icon after winning the 1966 Pillsbury Bake-Off), pineapple upside-down cake, Jell-O Whip n’ Chill, Junket custard, ambrosia, grasshopper pie, and, of course, Jell-O.
Boxed cake mixes (especially from Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker, Royal, and Pillsbury) were also popular, and not only for making cake.