40 Disgusting Vintage Recipes That Prove The Dishes Of The Past Were Really Bizarre

If you were suddenly transported way back in time, Pandas, how would you feel about the food? While the classics like various stews, roasted meat and veggies never truly went out of style, certain gastronomic trends from the past have the uncanny ability to turn our stomachs and put us off eating for days at a time. We’re talking, of course, about disgusting vintage recipes. Funnily enough, there’s a Facebook group that goes by that exact name.

The ‘Disgusting Vintage Recipes’ community does exactly what it says on the tin and horrifies people with some truly bizarre dishes from bygone eras. It’s a celebration of all that’s weird and strange that’s come out of the kitchen. You’re about to step through a time portal and see, sniff, and taste food like you never have before, Pandas. Banana dipped in lemon juice and garnished with anchovy? That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Beware because what you’re about to see should never be witnessed by mortal eyes! Make sure that you’re not snacking on anything (you’ll lose your appetite, almost guaranteed) and that there are no other victims errrr people seeing you scroll through this list. Let us know which of these dishes terrified you to your very core, tell us which ones you’d be brave enough to taste, and open up about what actually seems yummy to you. We won’t judge you. Promise! Oh, and don’t forget to add some 7-Up to your milk.

Samuel Brown, the founder of ‘Disgusting Vintage Recipes,’ was kind enough to answer Bored Panda’s questions about the inspiration behind the awesome group that encompasses members from around the globe, and shared his thoughts about weird food trends. “I had the group a long time ago, but during the pandemic, I got exhausted from having too many volatile news discussions. I wanted something to talk about with people that was safe and fun. It seemed like everything had been politicized at the time. I looked up some advice on how to make a Facebook page grow quickly and applied my ideas to making the site grow,” he told us a bit about the roots of the project.

Bored Panda also had a friendly chat about vintage recipes and how they might make a comeback with world-famous pie artist and culinary expert Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin. “Long before social media, influencers, and mass media, food corporations had a very clever method for getting their products front and center in the minds of new consumers: the free recipe booklet. Handed out at grocery stores and arriving free in the mail, these delightfully bizarre mini books contained instructions for incorporating the ingredient in question into every meal, whether it made any damn sense or not,” she explained to us. Scroll down to learn more, Pandas!

Sam, the founder of ‘Disgusting Vintage Recipes,’ shared with Bored Panda that at the very start of the project, it was mostly just one other person and him. “It’s crazy because she’s from Australia and I’m from Canada. We connected across the whole world. My ideas on how to make a page grow started working and it took off. Now every morning is spent dealing with this page for a bit,” he shared with us via email how managing the Facebook group has become a part of his daily routine.

He said that the idea for the page itself came from a night of checking out some old recipes. “The Aspic Aquarium is my favorite for sure. I saw a need for a community and put resources forward.”

According to founder Sam, people are finally coming around and we’re starting to understand the influence of industry on our food choices. “I think that the pressure for housewives to create elaborate recipes will wear off. I really think that we’re in a good place now. The disgusting vintage recipes were a growing pain as a result of the technology available in the early Atomic Age.” 

In the founder’s opinion, some of the vintage recipes don’t look too bad. “We’ve had some problems having people think that the dishes are yummy. I usually don’t approve of cultural creations because of that.” Samuel shared that he’s a historian, so he tends to look at things analytically. He shared some of his thoughts about vintage recipes and bygone food trends:

  • “The photography was terrible in some of these cookbooks. The sepia tone on even the most pleasant dishes makes them look worse than they really were.
  • Gelatin was prestigious at one point. It seems like there was a time period where it was still held prestige, but was inexpensively available. There’s a history of jello article that is posted at least a dozen times on the page that helps out.
  • Low-fat food was a new idea. Nina Teicholtz essentially disproved this concept with her book ‘The Big Fat Surprise.’ However, the diet-heart hypothesis was considered sound science during the Atomic Age. The result was trying to make disgusting food tasty.
  • Industry seems to have lots to do with some recipes. I think this is leftover from recipes from the depression and the war. People didn’t know how to use the new things available from the grocery store. To solve this, companies put out some cookbooks and recipes that promoted ways to use their products.
  • Presentation was important enough for odd things to be created.
  • My personal theory is that the rise of pizza availability made it seem silly to put lots of effort into these creations. The hilarity of the recipes falls into the ’80s. “

Pie artist Jessica, the author of ‘Pies Are Awesome,’ told Bored Panda that these food corporations would even hire professional chefs to invent these “culinary desecrations.”

The chefs really did showcase pretty much everything, from “how ketchup could be incorporated into dodgy mousse desserts, how 7-Up could be used as the perfect roast ham glaze, and how gelatine could be used in, well, everything,” Jessica said.

“Presented alongside glossy illustrations of upwardly-mobile nuclear family types and swinging singles, the wacky dishes were portrayed as the height of sophisticated fare. Hot dog weenies trapped in jell-o were given dubiously lofty captions like ‘delicate sausage segments enrobed in gleaming aspic.’ Was anyone fooled? Check out the party buffets in the background of photos from your great aunties, and you tell me,” the pie artist pointed out that, yes, a lot of people were totally taken in by the marketing.

Jessica believes that these vintage recipes might once again be popular today, in 2022. So long as “the corporations were successful in manufacturing a sufficiently ‘authentic-feeling’ viral sensation around their ingredient.”

However, there’s the so-called ‘half-life’ of these fads to consider. Things are changing far more rapidly these days in the past. This also applies to trends.

“Because of the speed with which information is disseminated today, we tend to get bored of trends far more quickly than we did before social media took over our lives. But that also means that we are hungry (pun intended) for an ever-accelerating stream of new food fads… Keep your eyes peeled for that ‘gleaming aspic’ on a table near you soon—it’s making a comeback!” the culinary expert shared her thoughts about a possible future where vintage recipes leap from the page and into our kitchens.

Jessica told Bored Panda that as a society, we go through phases, and everything that’s old is new again. “One month, giant glitter-covered cupcakes with frosting piled to the ceiling are all the rage. The next, carbs and artificial colors are ‘out’ and growing your own hydroponic lettuce in your kitchen is the de rigueur pastime,” she said.

“The one thing that will never go out of style? Redefining ourselves by making fun of the things we used to think were cool!”

The ‘Disgusting Vintage Recipes’ Facebook group has grown to 66.5k members in the 3+ years since its founding in the early spring of 2019. In that time, the members of the community terrified and amazed each other with some real gastronomic gems. Gems that probably should never have been unearthed and stayed firmly in history.

At the same time, no matter how disgusting the pics might look, they’re also utterly fascinating. These aren’t just random recipes: some people used to make these dishes. They’d be served at parties to impress and wow the crowd. And it’s got us thinking a lot about what current recipes might look utterly alien to folks from the future, a few decades from now.

The ‘Disgusting Vintage Recipes’ community only has a few rules that its members need to abide by. Rule number one: the food posted in the group has to be disgusting. That one’s pretty straightforward, isn’t it, Pandas? The content has to match the mission of the group.

What’s more, the food has to be vintage. So you shouldn’t be posting about bizarre current trends (though they might really be super weird). Focus on the past, ignore what’s recent.

Members of the community are also asked to be kind to each other. There should be no discussions about politics, current events, or anything that might cause an argument. Moreover, there’s absolutely no tolerance for bigotry or racism.

Something else to keep in mind is the context of a particular dish. For instance, if something’s still eaten to this very day, it doesn’t count as a disgusting vintage recipe.

A while ago, Professor Nathalie Cooke, from McGill University, explained to Bored Panda that dishes may look very peculiar to us as we move from decade to decade. However! Actually tasting these dishes would reveal that many of them have flavor profiles that we’re familiar with in the present day.

“The taste combinations—savory and sweet (tuna waffles, ham and bananas) or sweet and sour (mayo with lime) are surely very familiar,” she explained to us that really bizarre food combos can taste well, once we get past the psychological ‘ick’ factor.

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Professor Cooke, from McGill University, noted that some gastronomic trends were actually driven by “corporate marketing departments.” In short, some recipes didn’t arise naturally, there was manufactured hype.

Of course, what this means is that this type of marketing led to some really weird food combinations, like main courses having marshmallows in them. Something that seems really bizarre (and frightening) to us in 2022. Well, at least, to most of us… we hope.

In our previous interview, Bored Panda asked the professor to share her thoughts on what the future might hold for food. Here’s what she had to say: “Perhaps that we try to ‘eat’ food without any taste at all—in the form of vitamin pills? Or drink it—in the form of smoothies? That we replicate the animal kingdom and encourage children to consume it—as gummy bears, cracker fishes, dinosaur eggs in oatmeal? That we continue to be mystified by the miracle of bread and milk?”

So, dear Pandas, which of these recipes scared you the most? Have you actually tried any of these before at a party or an event before? Which dishes look the most and least appetizing to you? Share your thoughts with us and all the other Readers in the comments! Oh, and let us know what you’re having for dinner tonight. Please tell us it’s not salmon avocado mold!

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