14 Weird Vintage Recipes That Sound Downright Disturbing
In general, food is the best. One of life's simplest pleasures, sharing a good meal brings families and friends together. A good recipe could probably prevent World War III. The ones you're about to see, however, might kick it off.
Old cookbooks are treasure troves of recipes that are so horrifically bad, serving them to anyone should count as attempted murder. These twisted recipes have us wondering, "What were our grandparents thinking?"
Wipe that grimace off your face, because vinegar pie is one of the more appealing options on this list. It's genuinely not as nasty as it sounds. It was probably the result of human ingenuity: How to make a pie in hard times when the cupboard shelves were nearly bare? We've got shortening, flour, and vinegar? Just enough for pie. Desperation pie, but pie.
Before you throw up, vinegar isn't the main ingredient. It has more of a lemon flavor than anything else. Slightly tart, but with plenty enough sweetness to round out the flavor. We'd go with pecan, but hey, it's one of the few vintage recipes that looks actually edible.
The 1970s were groovy, but any recipe that puts "seafood" and "mousse" in the same sentence is anything but. The ingredients for seafood mousse read as follows:
- 4 ounces canned tiny shrimp
- 4 ounces canned crabmeat
- 3/4 cup minced onion
- 3/4 cup minced celery
- 1 (11-ounce) can condensed cream of celery soup
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 1 envelope (1 tablespoon) unflavored gelatin
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- Lettuce, for garnish
- Cornichons, for garnish
- Shaved carrots, for garnish
- Pimento stuffed olives, for garnish
- Lemon slices, for garnish
- Lime slices, for garnish
- Cherry tomatoes, for garnish
Excuse me? What? This looks like someone opened the cabinet, pulled out items at random, and threw them into a dish just to see what would happen. A disaster is what happened. You're welcome to try it, but we'll pass.
Are you getting queasy yet? Get ready for the ingredients in beef fudge. Get Margarine, evaporated milk, four cups of vinegar, a package of chocolate chips, a pint of marshmallow cream, vanilla, a cup of ground roast beef, and a cup of chopped walnuts.
This recipe was written in 1967, which makes us wonder when the sense of taste was invented. Beef and chocolate do not mix. Especially with marshmallow?! Like, what? And then the author sprinkles some walnuts on top like that makes it okay? It doesn't. Nothing is okay anymore, and just look at her notes:
"This fudge keeps real well and the beef takes away some of the sweetness and yet adds nutrition. This is the only kind that my family cares for anymore."
Are you sure, Edith? Are you certain? Or is your family just as flavorfully challenged as you are? Someone, please test this recipe for us because we burned the instructions for safety reasons.
This one was made by Kraft and we feel betrayed. We grew up with Kraft mac n' cheese, which isn't exactly the picture of health, but it's a lot better than this monstrosity. Just read their twisted advertisement:
"Into the heart of a split, hot baked potato spoon a big swirl of Kraft's Potato Fudge. That chocolatey, gooey goodness your kids crave will melt right in — putting a smile on the mouth of even the most finicky eaters. Kids love the taste, and you'll love the healthy vitamins and minerals they get from the natural goodness of nature's potato, the Potato."
We'd rather eat a potato raw than taste potato fudge on top of another potato. Hard pass.
Tuna and Jell-O Pie
But wait, there's more! In Betty Crocker's 1965 Dinner in a Dish Cookbook, this tuna and Jell-o pie was described as "pretty as can be."
Pretty disgusting, if you ask us. Who in their right mind would make Jell-o out of tomato and lemon? No one. It gets worse. The weird marinara citrus gelatin gets dumped into a cheese crust and topped with tuna salad. Instead of reading ghost stories this Halloween, we'll just read this recipe.
In 1963, this delightful recipe was written for "perfection" salad. Now, we love a good salad. Nothing against salad at all. Calling this a salad, however, is a stretch. Check out the ingredients:
- 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 can (12 oz) apple juice
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 1 cup shredded carrot
- 1 cup sliced celery
- 1 cup finely shredded cabbage
- 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
- 1 can (4 oz) chopped pimiento
That's not a perfection salad. That's not even a mediocrity salad. That's a train wreck. The publishing info mentions the recipe was printed in the US, as if that needed to be said. A French or Italian chef wouldn't be caught dead combining celery, pimientos, sugar, apple juice and gelatin in a single recipe.
Lime Cheese Salad
Lime...cheese? We had to read that twice. This one starts with, you guessed it, Jell-o, again. Enough with the Jell-o. Then more vinegar, grated onion, cottage cheese, and a tablespoon of mayo. Garnish with salad greens, fill center with seafood salad.
Supposedly, it makes six servings. We think you'd be extremely lucky to find six people who are willing to try it. Maybe if your guests are goats, and even then, we're not sure.
It would seem that salad is so offensive to some people that it had to be disguised as something else. Anything but a simple side salad. Balsamic vinaigrette, lettuce and tomatoes? Gross. What if we dig out the center of a 1.5 pound piece of bologna, leaving a shell. Brilliant! The filling? Mashed peas, mayo, minced onion, salt and pepper, mixed with gelatin. What next, you ask?
The recipe reads, "pack into bologna shell." Of course. Silly us. Why didn't we think of that? Then, top it off with real mayonnaise, garnish with radish roses, parsley and onion rings. Suggested to use leftovers as sandwich fillings for lunch. Sorry, but no amount of authentic mayo and decorative radishes will make this recipe edible.
Spam 'N Limas
We wish this were a joke, but no. It's all too real. SPAM was invented in the late 30s to make use of undesirable cuts of pork. SPAM is actually an acronym for "Shoulder of Pork and Ham." It was handy during World War II, but it became a staple in home cooking for decades.
Processed meats aren't amazing for your health, so maybe that's what happened here. Some exhausted housewife decided to slap SPAM on a plate with whatever canned vegetable she had on hand, which just so happened to be lima beans. That's the whole meal. SPAM and lima beans. They called it "ah" inspiring. More like ah-ppalling.
Admittedly, this one is actually cute and nothing is particularly horrifying about it. Meatloaf in general has a bad reputation, but all in all, this is one of the better vintage recipes out there.
We don't love that the mashed potatoes are described as "potato frosting," but if the instant potatoes were swapped with homemade mashed potatoes, this one might not be half bad. Still, why did our grandparents have to get so creative with meatloaf? Why did meat have to be loafed at all?
Gelatin molds were all the rage in the 1960s. We wish we could tell our predecessors that just because you can put something into a gelatin mold doesn't mean you should. Here's a crazy thought: Instead of pureeing canned tuna with gelatin and tomato soup and molding it back into the shape of the fish, why not just eat the fish?
This weird vintage recipe sprinkles in A1 sauce as if that fixes anything. It does not.
Chilled Celery Log
Weight Watchers, you can't hide. The internet knows all and just in case anyone needs a reminder about how toxic and pointless diet culture is, take this early Weight Watchers recipe. The company tried to convince people a log of cold, cooked celery was dinner. We'd rather have beef fudge — and that's saying something.
A Hot Dog Tree
In addition to gelatin and weird seafood concoctions, vintage recipes took way too much creative license with hot dogs. They used good ol' Oscar Mayer wieners for everything, including a festive Christmas appetizer.
It wasn't the most disgusting edible centerpiece invented, but we can think of dozens of more appetizing options than a decorative wiener tree.
The Banana Candle
Lastly, we have this gem from the "Be Bold With Bananas" cookbook. We're intrigued by the title, and mildly unsettled by the image of a gooey, peeled banana set in a pineapple ring and topped with a maraschino cherry.
We're not sure what's dripping down the side of this eloquently named banana candle, but we don't need to.