Far and away, the best meal of the day as a kid was the after-school snack. You remember sitting at the kitchen table as your mom handed you a celery stick slathered in peanut butter and raisins or a cup of butterscotch pudding, right? It was delicious. But when was the last time you had ants on a log? Or a pizza bagel? There are a few retro snacks that we all knew and loved back in the day but have totally forgotten about. But it's time to refresh your memory.
Sure, cheese dips and slices are great party snacks when paired with crackers or a crispy chip, but when was the last time you saw an old-fashioned cheese ball? Soft cheese is shaped into a ball with the help of cream cheese and topped with nuts and/or fruit for a sweet and savory delight. The first cheese ball was made in the early 1800s and weighed over 1,200 pounds. It was so large that it was called “The Mammoth Cheese.” While creating a giant cheese ball may be out of the picture, preparing this snack shouldn’t be, especially with the right recipe.
One of the foods New Englanders know and love, the fluffernutter is believed to have been created by Paul Revere’s great-great-great-granddaughter, Emma Curtis, during World War I after she shared a recipe for a peanut butter and marshmallow creme sandwich. At the time, people were encouraged to forgo meat once a week in support of the troops. The sandwich became an instant hit in the early 20th century and has captivated the taste buds of children for decades. Other than having a delightful name, the fluffernutter is such a treat because it’s only three ingredients: peanut butter, marshmallow creme and bread.
Any dish named after the food and drink Olympian gods consumed for a fruitful life and immortality is worth bringing back to the snack table, even if it is sickeningly sweet. It’s rumored that ambrosia salad gained popularity in the Southern U.S. when a cookbook titled “Dixie Cookery: or how I Managed My Table for Twelve Years” featured the dish in 1867. Ambrosia salad became a standard at Southern picnics and dessert tables, despite being one of those salads that isn't a salad at all. So, what's in ambrosia? It’s typically made with sour cream, whipped cream, canned mandarin oranges, canned pineapples, maraschino cherries, coconut flakes, crushed nuts and mini marshmallows. If that sounds like too much for a daily snack, consider taking inspiration from ambrosia and making cookies instead.
Betty Crocker’s 1957 book, “Cooking for Kids” contains the first written record of “Pigs-in-a-Blanket.” The snack — chopped sausages wrapped in dough and baked — quickly became a household staple and popular party hors d'oeuvres before fading in favor of other party snacks like dips and charcuterie. Pigs in a blanket are a quick, yet tasty snack that can be spiced up with cheesy dough and garlic. We like to keep our pigs in a blanket recipe simple, though.
If you grew up in the '70s, one of the foods you certainly remember is the cheese fondue. The history of cheese fondue is hazy, but one tale dating back to the 18th century claims the snack became popular when natives of Switzerland needed a way to feed families with aged cheeses and stale bread during the winter. Villagers realized if they heated the cheese and added seasonings and herbs, a new, delicious snack could be devoured with the stale bread. The rest is history. Fondues blew up in America a few decades ago, but it's about time you consider breaking out your mama's fondue pot and serving this snack to your friends at your next soiree. You can't go wrong with melted cheese, after all, and the recipe for a classic cheese fondue is pretty simple.
Why were there so many gelatin-based dishes in the '60s and '70s? This wobbly, mildly mystifying relic of another era might be a little offputting, but it's about time to reconsider the Jell-O mold, at least when it comes to desserts. A strawberry jelly filled with canned fruit makes for a light snack at the end of the long day that's shockingly satisfying, especially in the middle of summer.
One of the Southern foods all Northerners need to try, pimento cheese is a spread created with cheese, mayonnaise and pimentos, which are large, red-shaped chili peppers. The spread can be eaten with crackers, bread or any vessel perfect for scooping. This is the perfect snack to make its way back to the party table at any get-together. Be sure to prepare it extra spicy, and this recipe for pimento cheese does just that.
Ants on a log is a timeless snack. Achieved by smearing peanut or nut butter on a stick of celery and topping it off with a few raisins, this snack is not only rich in protein, but it’s also a relatively healthy snack. A little savory, a little sweet, once you have ants on a log again, you'll wonder why you haven't been eating this every afternoon for years.
Shrimp, or prawn, cocktails were the go-to party treat in the 1970s and remain one of the most iconic foods in Ameria. While the shrimp cocktail never died in some parts of the country, this formerly super-famous appetizer has been overlooked for trendier dishes such as bruschetta and hummus. But we think there is no time is better than the present to bring this fancy snack food back into the spotlight.
Was anything easier than running into your house after hopping off the school bus and popping in some pizza bagels? Whether you choose the prepared frozen variety or a homemade creation of your own, this retro treat was a childhood staple. The snack lost its appeal a bit thanks to the aging of the audience it was once marketed toward, but it’s time a new generation is introduced to the tiny pockets of saucy, cheesy joy. The recipe for a pizza bagel is easier than it even sounds and easily customizable.
A seven-layer dip (clearly) has seven layers, most commonly made of refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, chopped onions and tomatoes, cheese, olives and meat. You may have forgotten the joys of this Tex-Mex appetizer, but now that you remember it, it should be No. 1 on your list of dips to serve on game day.
Rice pudding, before it was a sweetened delicacy, was a staple snack in Europe in the 1300s. The pudding was originally savory and included ingredients like broth and almond milk. By the 15th century, when rice was considered the food of the elite, it was finally sweetened and made similarly to how we know and love it today. Make rice pudding in your slow cooker and enjoy it at any time of the day and makes for a snack that will stick to your stomach for some time.
Be honest, the last time you consumed a dessert that resembled a pile of dirt with worms emerging from its center was probably when something of the sort wouldn’t only be enjoyable but also amusing. (Look, mom, I’m eating dirt!) This snack is great for children, the Halloween season, or both, and only takes crushed Oreos or cake and a few gummy worms to create.
Snow cones made their grand debut in the summer of 1919. Texan Samuel Bert served the frosty snack at the State Fair of Texas and, by 1950, was selling an estimated 1 million snow cones per year. The sugary treat is created by pouring colored corn syrup over a cup of crushed ice. It will not only keep you cool on a hot summer night, but it will also be a hit among the young as you introduce them to timeless flavors and the old as you remind them of summers past.
If you have heard of divinity, chances are your grandmother always had a few at the ready for you ahead of every visit. Popular in the South, divinity is a mixture of sugar, corn syrup, egg whites and a sweet flavoring like vanilla extract. The result is a nougaty-like candy perfect for sharing with the entire family. If you hadn't heard of divinity until now, consider making it as a part of a vintage-inspired holiday menu.
Peanut brittle was reportedly an accidental creation. While attempting to create taffy, an 1890s Southern woman added baking soda rather than cream of tartar to her mix and continued cooking until it hardened into a crunchy brittle. Whether this tale is true is unknown, but what is certain is that this nutty, lightweight snack is a favorite.
Butterscotch pudding deserves a comeback, and fans of the tasty concoction agree. Once described as a “supreme confection,” by The Chicago Tribune, this is a wonderful snack easy enough to make with the entire family or with the little ones hoping to become aspiring chefs. It can also be served alongside other retro recipes you might have forgotten existed.
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