Oh, the mid-century! People greet this period with more pained eye rolling than the 80s. When photographic evidence of this era comes to light, people rise to its defense and claim, “Everyone was wearing that…”
Someone came up with the idea in the mid-century that housewives were looking for new ways to delight their families during mealtime. With this in mind, companies created “innovative” recipes sold on printed cards. Recipe cards usually came in sets and were ordered by phone. Struggling to outdo each another and to promote their own products, companies often featured horrifying concoctions. We’re talking recipes only seen in films involving mad scientists playing God. Staple ingredients included gelatin and mayonnaise, usually together, and nary a fresh vegetable… unless it was suspended in one of the aforementioned substances.
Feeling hungry? Check these out. You won’t be hungry afterwards.
1.) Crown Roast
These are weenies fit for royalty. I don’t even know how you’re supposed to go about eating this, assuming you’d want to do so in the first place.
2.) Treasure Chest Salad
Not even fruit is safe from the mayo onslaught. In this practical and time-saving recipe, one has to fashion a treasure chest out of fruit and then fill it with more fruit. And then dump mayonnaise on it. That’s the recipe. Put fruit in other fruit and then cover it in mayo.
3.) Seafood Mousse
This dish was also used to educate people about the effects of nuclear fallout on marine life.
4.) The Californian Jello Ring
Keep telling yourself this is a combination of the period’s photo technology and faded ink is responsible for the coloring. Oh, and this is a dessert.
5.) Steak Pudding
Don’t worry. It’s the good beef suet.
Meat-za. The recipe involves molding a pizza crust out of ground beef, because if the term “meat crust” isn’t appetizing, I don’t know what is. Then you fill it with tomato soup and float cheese on top. Yum.
7.) Aspic Aquarium
The next time someone starts waxing nostalgic and talking about everything was better before kids and their cell phones, remind them about aspic. Aspic is food, usually meat or something savory, suspended in gelatin. This one features an ocean scene made out of shrimp, vegetables, and elbow macaroni. Usually one has to garnish it, of course, with a healthy slather of mayonnaise.
8.) Liver Sausage Pineapple
While it would make a good band name, this recipe involves molding a mixture of mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, and liver sausage around a jar to make a “pineapple.” The best part is that it calls for a “real pineapple top,” implying you had a perfectly good pineapple and made this instead.
9.) Deviled Lettuce
Check out the glob of Miracle Whip on this thing. In keeping with the trend of waging war on vegetables everywhere, this recipe calls for hollowing out a head of lettuce and filling it with mayonnaise, cream cheese, and deviled ham. The dish is then topped with more mayonnaise.
10.) Fancy Chicken
This chicken in a pastry tux is nowhere near as revolting as the rest of the food pictured here. Still, think about the person who created this, and the thoughts the kind of person who puts a pastry tuxedo on a chicken must have on a daily basis.
11.) Party Sandwich Loaf
This is a fishy, chickeny sandwich masquerading as a cake. See what looks like creamy icing? That’s cream cheese. You have a sandwich masquerading as a cake that you have to eat with a fork.
12.) Perfection Salad
I have a fresh, healthy salad full of actual vegetables. I feel like it’s missing something, though. I know! I’ll encase the whole thing in gelatin. Perfection.
If you’re wondering why packaged, chemical-laden foods were so popular during this time, I have a conspiracy theory for you. It’s unfounded, of course, but it claims that during the 50s, the US government promoted these types of non-perishable foods (Spam, Tang, Jell-O, etc.) so people would get used to living on military-style rations in case of a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Nuclear winter would be more palatable if you were already used to eating grayish lumps of tinned meat. Whatever reason may be for this stuff catching on, be glad that aspic and filling heads of lettuce with mayo is no longer fashionable.
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