Take a look at these weird foods through the decades, and the food manufacturers that thought they were a good idea.
Monterey Souffle Salad (1955)
Could the Monterey Souffle Salad have been the inspiration for the movie “The Blob?” Seriously, look at this fright of lemon gelatin, mayonnaise, vegetables, tuna and what could definitely be confused with an eyeball sitting on top. This is the food of nightmares. And, last I checked, a souffle is baked, not “fast frosted.”
Souper Sandwiches (1958)
Soup and sandwiches are usually a safe bet for lunch or a light dinner — unless the soup is being poured all over the sandwich! Did someone think that dunking a sandwich into the soup was too much work, so they created these “easy” Campbell’s Soup slathered sandwiches? I think it’s more work to use a knife and fork than eat with your hands, don’t you?
Peppermint Popcorn Tree (1962)
Karo Syrup wanted to make holiday candy fantasies come true with a Peppermint Popcorn Tree made from squares of popcorn glued together with Karo. I’m cracking up at the real candles with their cherry candle holders. They should have stuck with only gumdrop ornaments. And, look at that “basic candy recipe” in the beginning of the ad: Karo, confectioners’ sugar, and margarine! But the kicker is the bottom paragraph that makes Karo sound like a health food. It’s “a sugar your body uses directly for quick energy!”
Mazola Corn Oil Patio Partners
The two separate recipes in this Mazola Corn Oil Patio Partners recipe are only slightly weird, but it’s the presentation that makes this truly strange. What’s going to happen when someone removes one of the drumsticks that are holding up a bowl of 1960s-inspired coleslaw complete with chunks of jellied cranberry sauce and a big dollop of extra mayo on top for good measure? This partnership is doomed.
Glace Fish Mold
This is one of the two I was dreading (you’ll know the second one when you see it). Look at that thing. It’s a freaking Jell-O-ized fish. And it’s smiling. Despite my seething hatred for everybody who had taste buds from 1960 to 1969.
Hey look, it’s another McCall’s Great American recipe! With more Jell-O! The Perfection Salad strives to live up to its name by including apple juice, lemon juice, vinegar, carrots, celery, cabbage, green pepper, and pimentos, aka the Milwaukee Bucks of the vegetable world.
And it looked so awesome. Everything stands still inside a sea of apple-lemon Jell-O. And guess what? It actually tasted awesome! Finally, a recipe worthy of being reprinted! The lime-apple Jell-O somehow complemented the weird-ass salad mixture, plus my food wasn’t staring at me. It was smooth sailing from here, right?
Fish stick tacos, fish stick mushroom caps, fish stick open-faced sandwiches (1972)
Is there any dish that Mrs. Paul’s Fish Sticks can’t improve? That seems to be the idea behind this 1970s ad for Mrs. Paul’s Meal Makers recipe book. Fish stick tacos, fish stick mushroom caps, fish stick open-faced sandwiches … the sky is the limit. Look at the front cover of the actual recipe book. These dishes apparently pair well with Champagne! (To be fair, almost everything pairs well with Champagne.) All you had to do to get the recipes was stick a quarter in an envelope and in 4 to 6 weeks, this recipe book arrived on your doorstep. (I know it doesn’t say 4 to 6 weeks, but in the ’70s, everything took 4 to 6 weeks.) Sadly, that recipe book rings a bell. There may have been a copy in my home when I was a kid.
A super weird recipe that I remember from the 1970s when I was a kid was Mock Apple Pie. I don’t know if it was created in the 1970s, but it was a huge deal with my mom and her friends because it tasted just like apple pie but replaced apples with Ritz Crackers. The weirdest part of the whole thing is why I never asked my mom, “Why not just use real apples?”
Ham and Bananas Hollandaise
Yes, this was actually a thing. Coming from McCall’s Great American Recipe Card Collection of 1973, Ham and Bananas Hollandaise was a secret government project introduced to distract an innocent public with something worse than the oil embargo. To create this potassium horror, I sprinkled the helpless bananas with lemon juice, wrapped them in ham, smothered them in mustard, and baked the lot for 10 minutes, pausing only to douse them in viscous hollandaise.
The finished dish smelled liked a banana slaughterhouse, but for the good of culinary archaeology, I dug right in. The end result was OK going down, but two cans of Coke and a mouthful of Listerine did nothing for the lingering aftertaste.
Important note: If your face assumes a thousand-yard stare after eating something, there is something wrong with that food.