The Mid Century brought plenty of great things— beautiful furniture, interesting homes, iconic designs and… tasty food? Mid Century recipes are rarely at the top of anyone’s list (mayo-everything, anyone?), but some of its cuisine may surprise you.
“[Mid Century recipes] are part of the culinary evolution of our country. The pilgrims didn’t just come across the water on the Mayflower with their heads stuffed full of Asian fusion cuisine,” says Ruth of Mid Century Menu. We’ve picked 5 of our favorite (unique) retro bites, so turn on the oven and break out the mixing bowls!
1. Cherry Chocolate Ice Box Dessert
To start things off, we’ll begin with a sweet treat that seems pretty good, even today! This dessert hails from a 1963 Home-Ec cookbook, and is filled with chocolate graham crackers, whipped cream, and cherries. Yum!
Fun Fact: Refrigerators started to appear in most American homes by the 40s. Desserts that centered around the use of them were quite the novelty!
2. Raspberry Frappe
This pink drink looks perfectly refreshing— ready for a pool party or late summer cocktail party. Hailing from 1970, this recipe has a splash of liqueur to give the drink a grown-up twist. But don’t worry about it being too dry either: this recipe has a pint of ice cream in it.
Fun Fact: As the cocktail hour grew in popularity, mixed drinks of all kinds became Mid Century dinner party favorites. In fact, one cookbook has a quite a unique take on the cocktail hour: “Women weren’t really liberated until the coming of that grand national free-for-all, the cocktail hour. Before Prohibition, bars had been one-sex affairs… [now] girls come home… to reach for the ice bucket. ”
3. Ginger Ale Salad
It’s the Mid Century classic you’ve been waiting for— Jello Salad! Well, maybe you haven’t, but this iconic (and interesting) style of food is a well-known retro side dish. Thankfully, this recipe is actually pretty good. Think of it as fruit salad with a delicious gingery aftertaste. It’s from the 1948 version of The Joy Of Cooking, a cookbook that is still being published today.
Fun Fact: In 1904, Diet Ginger Ale was the first diet soda invented!
4. Gretchen’s (Spam) Casserole
Full of another classic Mid Century ingredient, this casserole is certainly unique. This Hawaiian-inspired dish has some German influences too (sauerkraut and vinegar), making it a unique cross-cultural food. Gretchen’s Casserole comes from a 1958 cookbook called Can Opener Cookery.
Fun Fact: After the GIs returned home from WWII, they began to seek out some of the food they had tried while they were abroad—Hawaiian food, Japanese food, Mexican food, etc. Soon, home cooks all over the country started to cook these things, which meant the 1950s brought the first tastes of International Cuisine to the American palette.
5. Peanut Butter And Bacon Hot Dogs
Peanut butter, bacon and hot dogs are all American favorites— but what if you ate them all together? This 1956 recipe from Big Boy Barbecue Book does just that. The memorable combination is certainly filling, but try it without peanut butter if you’re not a fan.
Fun Fact: The popularity of grilling and outdoor barbecues began to soar in the 50s and 60s. They were seen as the perfect way to enjoy the great outdoors and Americans loved the easy customization grilling brought.
These Mid Century recipes have stood the test of time, so it’s time to get cooking! While you’re at it, check out these Mid Century Modern kitchen essentials. And of course, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest for more Atomic Ranch articles and ideas!