Special Report

Food Trends We Hope Never Make a Comeback

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1. Weird dips

Dips were a big deal at mid-20th-century parties. Guacamole and blue cheese, sure, but also variations made with things like onion soup mix; olives and shredded cheddar; a blend of cream cheese, horseradish, mustard, and mayo; and minced clams. The last of these was one of the weirdest, a goopy affair full of chewy clam nubbins, sort of like pencil erasers stirred into library paste.

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2. Jell-O salad

Bright-hued and jiggly, molds of variously flavored Jell-O encasing everything from mandarin orange segments to shredded carrots to tuna and black olives were popular at family meals in the 1950s and ’60s, especially around holidays. An article about them in a British newspaper some years ago was titled “Jell-O salads: American abomination or Thanksgiving treat?” The former, obviously.

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3. Aspic

Aspics are like savory versions of Jell-O, made by mixing gelatin with various salty liquids. One of the most popular used to be one involving tomato juice and gelatin chilled in a ring-shaped mold. It was typically unmolded into a wobbly scarlet mound presented on a bed of lettuce, sometimes accompanied by mayonnaise-bound shrimp or chicken salad. Frightening.

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4. Cold pasta salad

Why cold lumps of gummy starch tossed with salad dressing and various chopped vegetables and maybe shreds of meat, seafood, or poultry ever became such a ubiquitous deli offering and lunch menu staple is a mystery. Pasta was meant to be served steaming hot.

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5. TV dinners

Small portions of over-salted and additive-filled main courses, side dishes, and sometimes desserts presented together in microwaveable segmented trays… Fine, I guess, if your idea of dinner is basically low-rent airplane food.