American food has come a long way. Nowadays, you don’t even have to live in a big city to be short drive away from Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or any one of many other grocery stores that allow you to purchase the freshest meats and produce of all kinds to whip up healthy, delicious, and attractive dining experiences in your own home.
Or you can buy healthy, tasty meals that have already been prepared for you.
But that’s not what this article is about. No, we’re about to show you what Americans used to think of as great dishes you could make at home. These incredible shots of actual dishes presumably prepared and consumed by actual Americans were compiled from the extraordinary (if you’re into this sort of thing) blog Bad and Ugly of Retro Food, put together by “Kim” from San Antonio, Texas.
We assume that Kim must have found some “good” in retro food to go along with the “bad” and the “ugly.” But where’s the fun in that?
So thanks to Kim, here are 15 actual dishes that Americans used to eat, from the 1950s to the 1970s. Think about that next time you get all nostalgic for how much better life was in the good ol’ days.
Americans have always enjoyed cheese, though exactly what kind of cheese was used to make this “Tuna Cheese Cups and Chili Cheese Pie” lunch, we’re not quite sure.
Yes, this adorable-looking dish, with the cute little hearts and all, is in fact, “Jugged Hare.” That’s “hare” as in “bunny rabbit,” and “jugged” as in, well, we’re not sure you actually want to know. Okay, we’ll tell you anyway. “Jugging” is the process of stewing a whole animal in its own blood, inside a covered dish or “jug.” Bon Apetit!
Tomato Steak in Cream. That’s steak marinated in tomato sauce swimming in an enormous dish of sour cream.
A nice, light hors d’oeuvre: Herring Salad. Apple slices wrapped in actual herrings, tail and all. Crunchy!
Now this is a real man’s meal. This massive steak is covered in a tic-tac-toe pattern of anchovies and sliced, stuffed green olives. Served with a generous helping of french fries. What do they call it? Anchovy Steak. What else?
Continuing with the steak theme, here we have In the background, Bavarian Steak Rollups, which appear to be slices of steak rolled and stuffed with — something — on a heaping mound of sauerkraut. In the foreground, Yankee Berry Steak. Apparently, in Dixie, they think that Yankees put berries on their steak.
Now here’s a dish they actually eat in Dixie, at least judging by the name — Dixie Pork Chop Roast.
There’s something that might be pork in there somewhere.
Lobster. Quite the delicacy. This dish is “Dressed Lobster.” Dressed, that is, completely in that staple ingredient of the American diet, mayonnaise. Because mayonnaise tastes great with pretty much everything.
Congealed Salad With Fresh Fruit. Sorry, we don’t eat anything with the word “congealed” in the actual name of the dish, we don’t care how fresh the fruit is. And about that…
Remember Betty Crocker, the icon of the American housewife who always had a veritable encyclopedia of easy-to-prepare and delicious recipes at her fingertips? Well, here’s one of her classics. The Betty Crocker Giant Burger. A plate-size ground beef patty stuffed with cream cheese — and tastefully garnished with parsley and olives from a jar.
Here’s another Betty Crocker specialty — Cucumber Relish Mold. Because what better use of chopped cucumbers than to trap them in a tomb of lime Jell-O?
From Betty Crocker to another American culinary icon, Weight Watchers. This is the Weight Watchers Chocolate Soufflé, circa 1973 (approximately). It doesn’t look very chocolatey, but maybe that’s why it helps you lose weight.
Speaking of healthy eating, this isn’t exactly a dish, but here are the “good nutrition” recommendations from the 1963 edition of the Pillsbury Family Cookbook. Because when it comes to good nutrition, you really can’t beat white bread, swiss cheese, processed ham and lettuce.
Ah, after all of that heavy sludge — sorry, delicious food — there’s nothing like a light, refreshing beverage to wash it all down. Right? Well, not exactly. This exotically named “Copenhagen Consomme” is actually, well, let’s let Kim describe it: “A jellied soup made with halibut, fish bones, egg whites, lemon juice, white wine, gelatin, and various vegetables.” Refreshing!
And finally, let’s finish off our lovely, All-American meal with dessert, the attractively-named “Frozen Holiday Salad.” We’re not even going to try to identify the ingredients. But this is sure to liven up any holiday, that’s for sure.
By the way, the dish in the photo at the top of this story is “Pressed Brisket Of Beef.” Apparently, that is genuine beef, or something like it, inside that casing of gelatin. Yummy.
Honestly, with this type of cuisine, it’s a testament to the American character that the country is still standing at all.