Every family has recipes that are passed down and shared through the generations. My dad is the best chef in my family, and his best dish? Southern-style shrimp and grits. A close runner-up are his baby carrots, slow simmered in butter with raisins and onions, which might sound odd, but is surprisingly delicious. Although I’ve tried to make these dishes on my own, they never turn out quite right. Maybe there’s a secret ingredient that he’s not telling me, or, as a father, he just cooks with more love than I do. Either way, dinner at his house is always better than at mine.
Some old family recipes are so bad, however, that no amount of love could ever save them, and the worst of the worst can be blamed on aspic. In the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, aspic, a dish in which various ingredients are set into a gelatinous mold, was a popular staple in America. There were sweet aspics, savory aspics, even fish aspics that had a reputation to be “more delicate and melt more readily in the mouth.” Today, we wouldn’t dream of mashing our dinner into a Jell-O mold, but back then, chefs delighted in the challenge of creating inventive aspics with, well, just about everything.
You’ll see quite a few of these aspics on this list of 25 vintage recipes, as well as other popular dishes of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s that (thankfully) did not stand the test of time. From a lime tuna mold to “baked bologna jubilee,” each and every one is so awful, you’ll just have to laugh.
1. It’s hard to ruin ice cream, but topping it with prunes, marshmallows, and walnuts is a surefire way to make even the biggest sweet tooth say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
2. Bacon and pears almost makes sense, but why throw the bitter curly endive on top? And what’s that unidentifiable white stuff in the center?
3. Just how I like my supper, in one big ol’ gelatinous mold. It mixes in your stomach anyway, right?
4. Now we’d call this a “Pinterest-fail,” but back in the day it was just an outer space cake. A+ for effort on the tinfoil spaceship and E.T. figurine, though.
5. Velveeta – it’s the cheese “bubbling with ideas!”
6. This, my friends, is the dreaded fish aspic, LOOKING at us with its beady little olive eyes. Don’t blame me if it pops up in your nightmares.
7. “Jellied tomato? Oh honey, you shouldn’t have.”
8. Canned ham with hard-boiled eggs, peas, and olives. I can’t see prunes, but apparently they’re in there!
9. SPAM, bananas, and … asparagus? I dare someone to make this – bonus points for recording your family’s reaction!
10. This Weight Watchers special was made by blending cottage cheese, bleu cheese, buttermilk, and spices, then freezing the mixture for several hours. To eat, stab with broccoli florets as it slowly melts.
11. One part dessert, one part sculpture, this “meringue fancy” is truly terrifying. Why the red eyes? Who thought shredded Jell-O was a good idea? I have so many questions …
12. Chicken, crackers, and cream cheese, topped with button mushrooms. Four great ingredients displayed in the most horrible way possible.
13. Weenies and sauerkraut fit for a Queen!
14. Yes, that’s tuna. Yes, it’s encased in lime Jell-O. No, we don’t have answers.
15. Why let dip stand alone when you can stick it inside celery?
16. Sorry moms, this is not going to help you get your kids to eat more beets.
17. Because that’s exactly how I like my paella, topped with shrimp doing a death dance.
18. But why stop at paella when there are apples in the world!
19. Looking for a quick dinner? How about “baked bologna jubilee!” You can’t say it wasn’t easy!
20. I don’t know what this is and, frankly, I don’t want to. Let’s just pretend they never happened.
21. Beef meatza, topped with avocados, cherry tomatoes, and bacon. Whatever it is, it’s definitely not pizza.
22. So much nope.
23. When in doubt, add an olive.
24. Aspic was even used in quiche in lieu of eggs and butter! If it doesn’t have eggs, can it even call itself quiche? We think not.
25. Nothing says “Happy Birthday” like banana candles!
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