There is a definite sense of nostalgia associated with many foods and drinks. Most of us have memories of a beloved dinner from childhood, a casserole that seemed to make a regular appearance at a family reunion or holiday meal for years on end, go-to party snacks that seemingly define an era, or the food fads that hit it big and were copied in restaurants and supermarkets coast-to-coast (cupcakes, anyone?). It goes without saying that like fashion, food can be trendy and even stylish in some cases. Some foods, drinks, popular meals and even diets are so pervasive that they have helped define certain decades in North American culture.
From casseroles in the 1950s to the 2000s “celebrity chef” craze, let’s journey back to the “good old days” and explore the foods that have defined the past six decades. Some trends like tuna noodle casserole are horrifying by today’s standards, but others are worthy of present-day cravings and might just prompt you to dash to the supermarket to see if that beloved snack you’d forgotten about is still available.
6 1950s: Prepackaged foods and casseroles
5 1960s: French influences
4 1970s: Fondue
3 1980s: Health-conscious prepared food
2 1990s: Fat free
1 2000s: Cupcakes and celebrity chefs
With consumers in this era possibly a bit more skeptical about the pre-packaged “healthy” food options of previous decades, there was a return to the basics in the 2000s. Artisan breads and farmer’s markets rose to prominence after the turn of the millennium. Sushi also began to be very trendy, with sushi bars cropping up throughout cities. Food took a miniature form with the introduction of “sliders”, which were small-sized sandwiches or burgers. Side drinks stepped aside and gave the spotlight to flavored waters as a newer and trendier beverage option. For those who wanted a lot of fruit and veggies in beverage form, smoothies laced with energy or nutrition powders also hit it big.
The Atkins Diet became huge, allowing diners to eat whatever they wanted with only one caveat: no carbs. With the rise of celebrity chefs lending advice to the masses on cable television cooking shows, many home chefs began to consider themselves pros in the kitchen. As far as dessert is concerned, cupcakes made a huge splash in this decade. Not exactly a new invention, the one-time kids party staple was reimagined as a full-blown trend that could be enjoyed by adult consumers. Cupcake shops offering a range of sophisticated and imaginative cupcake flavors began to open their doors.
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