16 Meals That Defined Our Grandparents’ Generation (But Not Ours)

Written By Jill Taylor

The dinner table in our grandparents’ homes when they were younger, consisted of a wide variety of meals. Some of those meals have been forgotten throughout time, so let’s take a look back at 16 of the most popular forgotten dinnertime classics.

Chex Mix: A Party Staple

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In 1952, Chex cereal boxes started showing the Chex Mix, and it quickly became a favorite at parties because it was so easy to prepare. It was also a less greasy snack than potato chips, but then people realized that it didn’t taste anywhere near as good!

Ambrosia Salad: A Quirky Dessert

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The National Post called ambrosia salad ‘the forgotten national dish’. And the main reason it became ‘forgotten’ is that people realized that it was… actually kind of gross. This mix of fruits, nuts, marshmallows, and coconut was too sickly sweet for most at the best of times.

Chicken á la King: Creamy Comfort

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People once thought of Chicken á la King as a versatile dinner due to it being served with either egg noodles or bread. This easy, hearty, comfort dinner was popular all the way through from the 1950s to the 1970s, but not these days!

Meatloaf: The Quintessential Dinner

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There are many families out there that still eat meatloaf from time to time, but a lot less than there used to be. Back in the 1950s, most families would have this dish at least once a week, and now it’s more of a nostalgic meal than anything else.

Classic Beef Spaghetti

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Many people have moved away from the easy, American version of beef spaghetti in favor of producing the (admittedly much more delicious and healthy) Italian spaghetti bolognese. Fresh vegetables and herbs have been replacing conveniently packaged ingredients, and it’s probably for the best.

Cottage Cheese Salad

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Believe it or not, cottage cheese salad was once considered a relatively healthy, light salad for women in the 1950s. But the amount of cheese in the salads and all the sour cream that was added to them proved that this was not the case.

Three-Bean Baked Beans

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Ground beef and bacon were often added to the trio of baked beans for a hearty side dish at the dinner table. Bostonians still eat this side often, but it’s not as popular in other states as it used to be.

Country Chicken and Gravy

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Southern comfort food has always been enjoyed in the U.S., but some people have always been put off by its heartiness. The country chicken and gravy dish was intended to be a lighter take on the cuisine and was reasonably popular for a period of time.

Flavorful Pot Roast

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Here’s another traditional, comforting family meal that was once served with mashed potatoes as a staple part of each family’s weekly meal plans. It was easy to prepare because of the packaged dressings and gravies available at the time, but they’re not so easy to find anymore.

Picnic Fried Chicken

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Fried chicken was the go-to picnic food back in the day. You’d load it up onto your plate with potato salad and deviled eggs, and it all tasted great! But the great American outdoor dining experience isn’t as prominent as it used to be.

Creamy Coleslaw

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Realistically, coleslaw is still pretty popular, but not as much as it used to be. Science Direct reports that it was linked to deaths from listeriosis, which put off some of the more health-conscious people, whereas others just went off the taste a little.

Lemon-Parsley Baked Cod

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Inspired by Mediterranean cuisine, this lemon fish dish was a light and healthy meal that offered something different to the American palate. At one time, that was exciting, but the novelty has worn off as we eat more foods from around the world.

Easy Swedish Meatballs

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Nowadays, it seems like the only place you can get Swedish meatballs is IKEA, and many of the younger generation wouldn’t know that it was once possible to get it everywhere else. Swedish meatballs have always been super easy to prepare at home, but that seems to have been forgotten.

Slow-Simmered Burgundy Beef Stew

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According to The Domestic Man, this dish was brought over from France during mass immigration into the U.S., but it’s not as popular on the American dinner table as it used to be. People aren’t slow-cooking as much as they used to, and this dish needs to be slow!

Ham & Veggie Casserole

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Combining ham with broccoli and cauliflower wasn’t much of an enjoyable experience for many of the kids of the 50s. Perhaps that’s why this particular dish lost its popularity over the years. Its main function was to use up any meat and vegetables in the house.

No-Fuss Lasagna

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Preparing a real lasagne from scratch is a very time-consuming experience that many Americans used to believe should be best left to Italian restaurants. So, they shortcutted the dish with no-boil noodles and packaged sauce, but it never really tasted the same!

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