20 Horrendous Retro Recipes That Are So Bizarre, You May Just Have To Try Them

The culinary world is a fast-moving beast. In fact, food trends come in and out of fashion quicker than you can say “avocado on toast.” And while there are plenty you might miss, there are also some recipes we’re very glad to have seen the back of. So if you’re reading this on your lunch break, you might want to put down your sandwich: things are about to get gross. Indeed, these 20 vintage recipes will make you question what the chefs of years gone by were thinking.

We’re not sure what’s weirdest about this recipe. Is it the horrible mix of prunes and marshmallows mashed up with walnuts and ice cream? Or is it the fact that the “California Prune Advisory Bureau” is apparently a real organization?

Here’s a combo we never thought we’d have to erase from our minds. And while retro food might be making a comeback, we doubt anyone will be rushing to pair their meat with pears. Indeed, it sounds a little fruity for even the most outlandish tastes.

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And we’re almost afraid to ask what that blanket is made of. This particular dish comes from a 1967 selection of recipe cards, and perhaps it’s no wonder that psychedelics were so popular back then if this was the kind of meal that people had to stomach.

The very first sentences of this recipe are enough to make anyone queasy. “Mash cauliflower. Stir in green pepper, pimento, celery leaves, parsley, salt and pepper.” In what world would that ever sound appetizing? Tell us, so we can never, ever go there.

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The obsession with adding fruit to everything continues. Sure, we guess it’s healthy. But why does that have to come at the expense of taste? Which we’re pretty sure has happened here just by looking at photos of this nightmare fuel.

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Maybe stuffing apples was just a thing in the 1960s. It still is now, of course, but we tend to stuff them with things that might actually complement their flavor, like raisins, sultanas and cinnamon. Not with ingredients you’d more usually find in an entrée.

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Whoever thought this was a good recipe for kids needs locking up. Indeed, it looks more like the kind of thing you’d find in a sex ed class. And even discounting its horrendous looks, the mix of ingredients – bananas rolled in jam and nuts – is enough to put anyone off.

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Imagine sitting down after a hard day’s work to find this in front of you at the dinner table. You’d be on the phone to the nearest pizza delivery joint before you could say “brown.” Pity the people of the ’70s for thinking that this was acceptable.

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Thanks, but no thanks. If it’s a choice between this and going hungry, we’ll take our chances with starvation, if it’s all the same to you. What must the taste buds of the ’70s have been like if this was the kind of recipe people enjoyed?

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Regular hot dogs apparently weren’t good enough decades ago. Still, recommending that you cut them into “decorative” shapes isn’t the weirdest thing here. That accolade goes to the choice of “compatibles” this recipe suggests, which include the vomit-inducing combo of hot dog and cabbage. What’s wrong with a good old bun?

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What fresh hell is this? “Perfection” it ain’t. And there’s that celery, pepper and pimento combo again, only this time it’s encased in a massive block of gelatin. For reasons known only to the creator behind this monstrosity, presumably.

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Since there’s no full recipe attached, your guess is as good as ours as to what this could be. Either way, anything this violently green can’t be delicious. Not that we ever want to get close enough to this thing to find out, of course.

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Anything with the word “mould” in the recipe title was never going to be pretty. And lo and behold, sealing dinner inside a ton of gelatin does indeed make for the least appetizing thing we’ve ever seen. Who’d have thought it?

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If you sat down in a restaurant today and read the words “cranberry surprise,” you’d probably be in for a good time. Not so in the ’50s, however, where the “surprise” is one of abject horror. Lettuce and mayo are for sandwiches, not cranberries. And we’ll just gloss over the presence of yet more gelatin…

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Sorry if we’ve just put you off fish for life, but it’s almost worth it just to see what passed for a meal in the mid 20th century. In fact, we’re almost finding it difficult to turn away from this – like a car crash you just can’t stop watching, no matter how horrendous it might be.

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As this recipe proudly boasts, “some things can be copied and some things can’t.” Indeed, we bet nobody could ever copy this monstrosity, simply because they’d be too busy questioning their own existence. Has humanity gone too far?

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The obsession with encasing meals in gelatin just won’t end. Sure, it might make eating your vegetables a lot easier. But why sacrifice presentation, taste and everything good about food in the name of convenience? And the less said about the tartar sauce, the better.

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According to the blurb on this recipe, “It’s easy… to turn even the simplest dishes and dinners into feasts of appetizing color and flavorful goodness.” Whoever created the dish in the photo must have missed the memo.

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Have you ever wanted to try BBQ Jell-O? No? You must not have lived through the ’70s. Apparently, it was all the rage then. Especially served with cottage cheese. Because humans didn’t evolve to have taste buds until the 21st century, we guess.

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What do you get when you cross cans of ham, pineapple and sweetcorn with flour-thickened condensed milk? If you answered “a waking nightmare,” then go to the top of the class. Or just look at the above picture for all the evidence you need that you are sadly, desperately correct.

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