Scary food from the Mad Men era

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If you’re thinking of catering a Mad Men party this weekend with authentic 1960s cuisine, you may want to reconsider—a look at the terrifying stuff that passed for dinner back then offers a clue as to why Julia Child was regarded as such a revolutionary. The following photos are from Betty Crocker’s Dinner in a Dish cookbook, published in 1965, a mayonnaise-slicked, canned-fruit dotted roadmap to an American culinary era thankfully gone by. First among the supper-time atrocities: a “Summer Salad Pie” (left), whose ingredients include lemon-flavored gelatin, tomato sauce, and tuna fish tossed together in a cheddar-cheese pie shell. 


PARTY SANDWICH LOAF: This festive table topper only looks like dessert. It’s actually buttered white bread layered with three different fillings: shrimp-celery-egg salad, a cream-cheese-pecan-pineapple spread and chicken-bacon mash. The icing: more cream cheese, cut with light cream and tinted with green food coloring.


LOBSTER ÉLEGANTÉ: What makes this lobster so “éleganté? A cup and a half of shredded, processed American cheese, in a pairing that puts today’s postmodern chefs to shame.


STUFFED PEPPERS FESTIVO: As simple to make as they are beautiful: fresh green peppers, stuffed with a box of Betty Crocker’s macaroni and cheese, flecked with cubed ham.


CURRIED TUNA CASSEROLE: A blend of cream-of-mushroom soup, rice, canned tuna and canned onions gets its jazzy look from festive triangles of egg yolks, chopped peanuts, plumped currants, crabapple jelly, sliced green onions and crumbled bacon. Bon appetit, indeed.

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It's 1960s week here at Brokelyn, what with the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, starting on Saturday, and the return of Mad Men on Sunday...


  1. And I thought the tuna casserole with crunched up potato chips was bad; these are unreal! Thankfully, some foods from the past are just as good now as they were then. Like good old fashioned pie.

  2. well at least the cookbook had readily available ingredients unlike these days where you end up spending way too much on ingredients you only use once.

  3. Now tell me… what do you serve at your gatherings?  I bet Doritos in a bowl with a dip of nothing… Copy and pasting links is very easy but putting together a Soiree, not so much! Bon appetit!!!

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