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Food Fads Through the Decades

Oh my, I’ve been scream-laughing reading the Vintage Recipes Ads. I grew up in the 70’s and this article has my sides hurting from laughing so much. Take a look at these pictures!!!!!! Did you eat any of these?

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Thankfully, my mom is a really good cook and is also health conscious. But some of these make me question how my generation even made it past the 70’s!!!!

So, let’s take a look at the FOOD FADS and diet fads through the decades.  These were listed in bon appetit magazine as follows:

1920’s
Fruit cocktail. According to Fashionable Foods: Seven Decades of Food Fads, when Prohibition went into effect on January 16, 1920, it dramatically shifted dining habits in addition to drinking rituals. Fruit cocktails garnished with marshmallows or sprinkled with powdered sugar came into vogue, though not as dessert. They replaced oysters on the half shell served with Champagne as the dinner party opener. Hmmmm. who knew?

Diet Fad: Smoking

1930’s
Gelatin everything! Salads that contain the world “gelatin” or “congealed” make me gag a little. The “in” crowd began serving these architectural marvels (that jiggled!) at social gatherings during the Great Depression. Cooks were not shy about sticking any old ingredient into the cold molds: chicken, hard-boiled eggs, grapes, grated carrots. EEEEEWWWWWW

Diet Fad: Grapefruit a day.

1940’s
Canned meat. The lingering effects of the Great Depression and rationing for World War II dictated culinary trends during this time period. Enter SPAM. The canned meat marvel became a staple of soldiers’ diets and caught on among civilians, both as a buffet option (fruit cocktail-SPAM loaf please!) and eventual punchline. The only thing more lasting than SPAM’s “indefinite” shelf life has been its popularity. To date, Hormel Foods has sold more than seven billion cans. Can you believe that?

Diet Fad: They Cayenne Cocktail. (Yes, Cayenne pepper infused juice.)

1950’s
Casseroles. The Middle America staple goes by many names–casserole, hot dish, funeral potatoes–but it has always been defined by one key element: It is traditionally made entirely from processed ingredients, including canned tuna, tater tots and the quintessential binder, cream of mushroom soup. The end result often takes on the characteristics of glue and mush, yet this comfort food starred at picnics, family reunions and church receptions. Still does, in fact.

Diet Fad: Cabbage is where it’s at. Eat cabbage all day. eat as much cabbage as you want! 😉

1960’s
Instant and Imitation food. Despite the proliferation of hippie home cooks experimenting with ethnic cuisine, food companies flooded the market with NASA-inspired just-add-water products, such as instant mashed potatoes, freeze dried coffee, powdered cheese mix and scientifically-engineered Tang. The introduction of Easy Cheese, Bac-Os bacon bits and Cool Whip cemented these science project foods (some of which we still turn to every day) foothold in society.

Diet Fad: The point system (weight watchers). Forget health conscious. Let someone else decide the necessary magic system .

1970’s
Fondue—This idea is great in theory–crusty bread dunked in melted cheese; strawberries drowned in chocolate–and yet horrible in execution. Concerns of double dipping, spillage and the communal hot pot turning into a petri dish of germs all raised red flags. Then a Canadian design company decided to market the same concept, except as a chocolate fountain, making it all but impossible for one to dip his banana into the waterfall without staining his shirt.

Diet Fad: The little magic pill- Ephedra (ephedrine and caffeine). Pharmaceutical mania in full swing.

1980’s
Pasta Salad. In 1982, Florence Fabricant made a sweeping declaration in The New York Times by proclaiming, “The pasta salad, that darling of the carry-out shop, is here to stay.” That was an unfortunate reality for anyone who believed that mixing cold noodles with vinegar or mayo and sliced canned olives was a wise decision. The trend took a turn for the worse when salad dressing companies entered the game. Just pour a bottle of Wish Bone over those tri-colored tortellini’s and–voila!–a summertime favorite.

Diet Fad: Slimfast- ready-made meal replacements.

1990’s
Fat free. Bags of Frito-Lay’s WOW Chips fat free potato chips advertised “All the Taste 1 Gram of Fat.” Wow indeed! The secret ingredient was Olestra, a calorie and cholesterol-free fat substitute. Sales skyrocketed to over $300 million in the first year alone, which meant that plenty of folks discovered the side effects of Olestra: an urgent and unanticipated need to run to the bathroom. Not surprisingly, sales slipped to $200 million two years later. The product is still around today, however, it has been re-branded as “Light” chips. Olestra is still listed as the second ingredient. Bathroom, anyone?

Diet Fad: Anti-carb movement & Fat free everything.

2000’s
The Atkins Diet. Nothing about this diet made sense. As long as people cut back on carbs, they could gorge on all of the marbled steaks, cholesterol-friendly eggs and robust cheeses they could stuff down their gullets. At the height of this weight loss fad, 10% of Americans followed the starch-averse nutritional plan. After carb cravings returned in 2005, that number fell to 2%, Atkins Nutritionals filed for bankruptcy and bakers everywhere breathed a sign of relief.

Then, Energy Drinks. Yikes

Diet Fad: Atkins followed by Juicing for weeks at a time followed by the SouthBeach diet.

2010’s
Bacon everything. Don’t blame the bacon bacchanalia that has swept the country on the delicious pork product. Point the finger at the cooks who have taken the cultural obsession about 12 steps too far and put bacon in places it never should have been in the first place: donuts, cookies, cupcakes, ice cream, cakes–the list of sugary snacks runs out the door and around the corner. Hardee’s and Burger King are now selling a bacon sundae, which seems to be a good sign. Usually, once Corporate America gets on board, the trend is on the way out.

Also, Frozen yogurt shops. Gluten free eating,

Diet Fad: Paleo- (Dairy, grains, sugar, legumes, processed oils, salt, alcohol, and coffee were taken off the table in favor of vegetables, fruits, nuts, meat, and fish.)

As we embark on the close of 2017 and welcome 2018, I wonder what food fads will emerge this year. Any ideas? Happy eating.

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Food Fads Through the Decades

  1. My guess – Ketogenic – I’m even seeing this in dog rescue as being the best way to feed a dog.

  2. Canned ribs?! Ack! I do remember during the NASA dehydrated food of the 70s I used to eat something called Space Food Sticks. The chocolate ones were the best. LOL

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