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Gag-Worthy Retro Foods People Actually Ate

Once popular at parties and the like, gag-worthy retro foods people actually ate have us reaching for the cauliflower and brussel sprouts in handfuls.

By Ossiana TepfenhartPublished 7 years ago 9 min read

Doctors and statisticians can both agree that people used to be a lot skinnier back in the 1950s. Despite the thinner waistlines, most of the recipes that you'll read involved gross quantities of foods we know are fattening today.

If you're like many people, you're probably wondering what gives. We probably figured it out after we took a long, good look at what kinds of recipes were being published in cookbooks and ingredient cans throughout the nation.

The truth is, if you've seen some of the insanely gag-worthy retro foods people ate, you'd probably stop eating altogether. Don't believe it? These foods were once suggested as dinner entrees, party foods, and to-go lunches by various companies, chefs, and cookbook authors.

Tuna And Jell-O Pie

There are certain things that just are not supposed to be together, and the tuna-gelatin combination here is one of these unholy pairings. This gnarly pie somehow won a Betty Crocker cooking contest in 1956, and features a pie base that is basically lemon jello mixed with tomato sauce, vinegar, onion, celery, and spices. To ensure that you get sick after your meal, the recipe calls for a healthy dollop of tuna on top.

Writers of the 1965 version of Betty Crocker's Dinner in A Dish called it, "pretty as can be." Yeah, no. This thing looks unnatural and would probably make aliens afraid of us.

Liver Sausage Pineapple

This recipe, concocted by the kind folks at Betty Crocker, will kill you. Literally. As in, this gag-worthy retro food will clog your arteries or possibly even come alive an attack you because it's such a hideous abomination of culinary terror.

This is a "pineapple" that is made of an entire pound of artery-clogging liver sausage, mayonnaise, gelatin, and Worcestershire sauce. The yellow "frosting" in the photos of this monstrosity isn't frosting, either; it's gelatinous mayonnaise.

There's no way to describe this recipe other than foul, but one blogger attempted to do its grotesque greasiness justice by saying it was "the worst recipe I had ever met."

Ham And Bananas Hollandaise

Many things go with bananas: other fruit, yogurt, cinnamon, chocolate, and even peanut butter come to mind. However, two things that probably shouldn't touch a banana would include ham and Hollandaise sauce.

Surprise!McCall's Great American Recipe Card Collection didn't seem to get the memo on these common sense tidbits, and published a downright bizarre dish involving all three ingredients back in 1973.

People who have tried this dish have reportedly called it "gross" and had difficulty choking it down. This doesn't surprise us at all; it doesn't even look like it'd smell decent.

Lime And Cheese Salad With Seafood

There's a certain point where you stop wondering what company recipe creators were thinking, and start realizing that they were probably just trolling their readers into eating horrible things for laughs. Such is the case with the jello-crazed company recipe makers of the 50s - or so we'd hope.

The recipe for this gag-worthy retro food was found circling the net on Tumblr, and it involves a heaping helping of tuna atop a "salad" involving lime jello, cottage cheese, and mayonnaise. Noticing a pattern to a lot of these recipes? Hint: jello and mayonnaise.

The end result is a weird slime mold-looking thing covered in foul-smelling meat objects. Yep, that basically nails it.

Lobster Relish

Quite a few people I know have joked about food so fresh that it looks like it'd crawl away, but this thing just looks like it's crawling away from Frankenstein's lab.

Published in an unknown retro cookbook, this recipe for a Lobster Relish platter is the kind of thing that would make a modern child burst into tears and cry for mommy to "make it go away."

This gelatin-based monstrosity literally looks like it's a resurrected Cthulu baby crawling towards you. What has science done?!

Banana Candles

The recipe for this gag-worthy retro food, I kid you not, comes from a book titled Be Bold With Bananas, and it was published in 1972. We're assuming that the phallic appearance of these "candles" may have something to do with all the swinger parties that were going on during the 70s.

But, really, guys? Dripping mayo down a candle and sticking a fake flame on it? That's the recipe? This is just upsetting.

Tuna Mold

Sometime in 1956, the folks at A-1 Steak Sauce had a small conversation that probably sounded something like this:

Recipe Maker 1: "Hey, I got a great idea. Let's combine two different words that sound horrible together, and add this stupid steak sauce as an ingredient."

Recipe Maker 2: "How about...fish mold? No, wait, it needs to be a clearly smelly combination. How about...tuna mold?"

Recipe Maker 1: "You're a genius!"

After that potentially drug-induced conversation the two probably had, they formulated a recipe that molded tuna, gelatin, cream cheese, and steak sauce into a pink monstrosity in the shape of a fish.

The end result is this thing you see above. It's so awful, it's actually kind of a work of art - much like how Hieronymous Bosch's work was so creepy that it was beautiful. It's something you kind of have to just observe to fully take in how awful it is.

Baked Stuffed Salmon

On face value, this name sounds pretty delicious. In fact, it's quite possible that you may have even come across a restaurant menu item with a similar moniker.

However, in 1973, a nice dish name didn't always bar you from having a nightmare-inducing plate show up in front of you. Such was the case with this recipe card, which was published in the 1970s by Curtin Publications.

With this salmon dish, you get a great platter of fish covered in Hollandaise sauce in a way that makes it look as if the fish is still looking up at you in a newly mutated state.

Seriously, look at that poor fish. Don't you feel sorry for its existence? It looks like it's only a matter of time before it looks up at you and says, "Kill me."

Frosted Ribbon Loaf

Back in the old days, people liked their food in loaf form. Meatloaf. Bread loaves. Loaf loaves, though we haven't actually a clue what they'd be, probably also existed by name.

At the height of the 50s and 60s, most gag-worthy retro food was either gelled up in a "salad" or loafed up. Such is the case with the Frosted Ribbon Loaf recipe, which was a sandwich loaf filled with ham, eggs, mayonnaise, pickles, and horseradish - and then promptly covered with more artery-clogging cream cheese.

The people at Jezebel were brave enough to actually make the recipe and try it. The writers who saw it wrote, "When this triple-decker masterpiece wobbled through the door, we all gasped in unison."

It wobbles. Also, apparently it tastes like an overgrown sandwich. We're not sure if we're comfortable with a salad that can wobble back at you.

Chicken Cranberry Party Salad

Most of us have had chicken that was cooked with a side of cranberries, but not like this. This is one of the many, many salads created in 1950 that was suspended in gelatin because gelatin makers hated people.

The salad was chock-full of everything that 50s cooking traditionally involved: cans of room-temperature soup, mayonnaise, and gelatin. Oh, it also probably had some semblance of vegetation, but humans back then didn't really seem to eat those.

This was another recipe that the Jezebel crew ate, and they said it was inedible. Serving suggestions include regretfully looking at the thing you just made and promptly dropping it into a biohazard-safe garbage bag.

Mayonnaise Jello

Remember how we said that everything seemed to involve mayonnaise and gelatin? Well, Knox Gelatin really decided to drive the point home sometime in the mid-century with this gag-worthy retro food.

At one point or another, the recipe makers at this lab decided that actually putting in effort to create a recipe was too much. So, judging by the cover of their recipe book, they just poured mayo and gelatin together until they made a giant white blob.

Mayo and Jello - why? Because humanity gave up.

Hidden Ham

This Diply user posted a recipe card featuring a ham somewhere in the picture. It's hard to find until, of course, you realize that massive blob of green glop in the ham. It's "Hidden Ham," get it? They hide the ham in a pile of green stuff, so you don't realize that it used to be edible - or a ham.

Super Supper Salad Loaf

Remember when we discussed how much 50s people seemed to love to have food in loaf form? Well, this is probably the dish that killed that adoration and made food loaf a thing of the past.

This "salad loaf" is a literal hollowed out slab of bologna, stuffed with gelatin (of course), mayonnaise (of course), smashed peas, and other gross things that probably shouldn't be spoken of.

This is the kind of dinner that makes you realize how good you have it in life. Somewhere out there, someone ate this thing. Once you think about what you could have had for dinner, your life won't look so bad.

Spaghetti-O Jello

Somewhere out in the world, there is a person out there who hates kids. In fact, that person hates kids so much, they couldn't even let our inner child enjoy itself. No, they had to go and ruin childhood memories by making something terrible out of them.

This is how Spaghetti-O Jello was born.

This is the kind of gag-worthy retro food that you make for a kid who you absolutely hate. Actually, is Spaghetti-O Jello considered to be child abuse? It might be, depending on the state, right?

Turkey Supreme

Despite being one of the most famous First Ladies ever, Eleanor Roosevelt was a notoriously bad cook - especially when she was trying to show off her austerity. It was such a known fact that people were typically advised to eat before they head out to the White House!

One of her more popular dishes was Turkey Supreme - a mixture of turkey meat, nuts, mayonnaise, pineapple, and whipped cream that was shoved in a freezer until frozen solid, then served.

Yeah...We would have eaten ahead of time if that was the best thing on the menu, too.

Tuna Upside Down Bake

The folks at Mid-Century Menufound this aberration, and actually had the guts to taste it, too. This recipe came courtesy of canned vegetable company Veg-All, and includes canned veggies, mayonnaise, cheese, and of course, tuna.

The recipe itself was said to "taste gross," and that alone may be enough for some people to avoid cooking it. However, we're going to go with the fact that it probably looks the same going down as it does coming back up that really seals the deal.

Blue Cheese Mousse

This...this is just horrifying on a number of levels. It's literally gelatinous blue cheese, cottage cheese, and sour cream - with nothing else included. Oh, and it's naturally blue.

The people at Cracked were bold enough to taste test this gag-worthy retro food. The writer who was put in charge of eating this thing said, "Unsurprisingly, the mousse tasted like a Bath & Body Works seasonal soap for a Wisconsin dairy festival held inside a giant urinal."

Does anyone else want to give that taste tester a medal?

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About the Creator

Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer based out of New Jersey. This is her work account. She loves gifts and tips, so if you like something, tip her!

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