Can You Guess What the Most Popular Food Was the Year You Were Born?

Photo credit: Rachael Ray Show Aired August 31, 2017

Food trends come and go, but some are so memorable that they define a generation. What was hot when you came into the world? Chances are, it came in a can or was eaten in front of the TV. Here’s the most popular food the year you were born: 


1930s: Creamed Chipped Beef
The Great Depression meant dinner could be pretty lean. This dish, consisting of beef smothered in white sauce and served over toast, was one that could be made easily on a budget.

1940s: Meat Loaf
Meat in a can is an easily recognizable American product, but intrepid home cooks of the ‘40s put their own spin on the supermarket staple, adapting older recipes into what we now know as the modern-day meatloaf. The nutritious dish rose to popularity thanks to recipes like Penny Prudence’s “Vitality Loaf,” made with beef, pork and liver. Meanwhile, the Culinary Arts Institute published a recipe for a savory loaf that called for beef, vegetable soup and cereal. Try Rach’s ham-and-cheese-stuffed version made with ground turkey for a modern twist on what has now become an American staple.  


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1950: Tuna Casserole
The tuna casserole’s history actually dates back to the Pacific Northwest in the 1930s, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that this homey dish fully made its meteoric rise to popularity. As the quintessential comfort food—creamy, savory, cheesy—it’s easy to see why.

1951: Baked Alaska
This classic 19th-century recipe enjoyed a resurgence in the 1950s. You were sure to be the envy of your dinner party guests if you presented them with this flaming, meringue-topped beauty.

1952: Salisbury Steak
Few things are more comforting than a plate of Salisbury steak with mashed potatoes, gravy, and peas. So it’s no surprise that this rich dish, invented by a doctor, was among the most popular in the early 1950s.

1953: Chicken Tetrazzini
Once a romantic dish eaten by movie stars and opera singers, chicken tetrazzini later became a comforting, at-home meal made with chicken, spaghetti, and a creamy, vegetable-infused sauce.

1954: Deviled Eggs
Deviled eggs have always been popular, but the finger food’s popularity surged in the 1950s, when every housewife had to have a matching egg plate for entertaining. Here are 14 of our best deviled egg recipes in case you’re looking for some new combos!

1955: Green Bean Casserole
When Thanksgiving rolled around in 1955, Campbell’s was prepared by releasing one of its most popular (and easiest) recipes ever: green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and those crunchy, irresistible fried onions.


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1956: Banana Cream Pie
Comedian Soupy Sales took his first pies to the face in the ‘50s, kicking off a revival in this sweet, velvety treat’s popularity.

1957: Barbecue
The emergence of the suburb and the introduction of the Weber grill led to a surge in backyard grilling in the late 50s. Smoky briskets and juicy grilled chicken soon became the meal of choice for al fresco dining.

1958: Pancakes
These airy, sweet cakes have been around for much longer, but the late ‘50s was a popular time for the comforting breakfast food: Betty Crocker's Cook Book for Boys and Girls—which was first published in 1957 and wildly popular by 1958—included a charming recipe for “branded” pancakes, and the first IHOP location opened on July 7, 1958 in Burbank, California.

1959: Cheese Ball
A go-to appetizer of the era, the Chicago Tribune included the ubiquitous pecan-encrusted cheese ball, made with cottage and blue cheeses, in an Aug. 21, 1959, round-up of easily prepared snacks for entertaining. Try an updated take with this garlic-and-herb cheese ball.


Rachael Ray Show

1960: Gelatin Everything
It was this year that kicked off the “let’s encase everything in a gelatin mold” trend. Jell-O even introduced vegetable flavors, such as celery, Italian salad and seasoned tomato, to chase the trend. No comment.

1961: Chicken à la King
This was the go-to weeknight dinner for moms in the ‘60s: a richly layered dish of diced chicken, vegetables and a cream sauce. (It was/is also a great way to use up leftovers.)

1962: Grape Jelly Meatballs
These meatballs smothered in a sweet, sticky sauce were a cocktail party staple in the ‘60s—the ideal easy finger food. In 2017, we like our cocktail meatballs in a spicy-sweet-tart cranberry glaze, thank you very much.

1963: Beef Bourguignon
The first episode of Julia Child’s hit show “The French Chef” aired on Feb. 11, 1963. The inaugural dish? Beef bourguignon, of course, described by Child as “a perfectly delicious dish.”


Rachael Ray Show

1964: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Dating back to a recipe contest held by Dole in 1926, the retro-classic pineapple upside-down cake has stood the test of time, but was especially common in the mid ‘60s.

1965: Onion Dip
The advent of packaged soup mixes made easy, entertaining-friendly dips a popular ‘60s go-to. Try Rachael’s take on this retro classic. 

1966: Tunnel of Fudge Cake
Bundt cakes made their way to kitchens in ‘66 after this chocolate cake won the Pillsbury Bake-Off—and the company received more than 200,000 letters from fans asking for the recipe to make their very own.

1967: Stuffed Celery
An upgraded version of the childhood classic “ants-on-a-log,” this light appetizer began on the Thanksgiving table.


Rachael Ray Show

1968: Carrot Cake
Happy Birthday, Rachael! Rach was born in 1968, when carrot cake was all the rage. This cream cheese-frosted sweet treat was (and still is) loaded with veggies, nuts and plenty of raisins—a sign of the health-food craze to come.

1969: Fondue
Neil Armstrong and his crew landed on the moon in this year, expecting to find nothing but cheese. Disappointed though they were, cheese fondue exploded as an entertaining dinner trend.

1970: Quiche
Thanks to the continued influence of Julia Child, French cuisine took off in the early ‘70s, and with it, quiche varieties arrived on the dinner table. Cooks in the ‘70s went way past Quiche Lorraine, though, experimenting with all types of filling, ranging from leeks and anchovies to onion and lamb.

1971: Eggs Benedict
This rich breakfast had been around for awhile, but a June 1971 Chicago Tribune article titled “Adventuring with Eggs” turned the Waldorf Astoria-invented dish into a make-at-home meal. Sunny Anderson’s Classic Eggs Benedict with 1-2-3 Hollandaise Sauce makes it even easier to nail at home! 


Rachael Ray Show

1972: Tequila Sunrise
This popular cocktail—a mix of tequila, grenadine, and orange juice—has its roots in a Prohibition-era resort in Mexico, but it wasn’t until 1972, when a bartender at Sausalito’s Trident Bar served one to Mick Jagger that the drink took off.

1973: Granola
The health boom of the ‘70s was kicked into high-gear with Eric Meller and Jane Kaplan’s The Granola Cookbook, released in January 1973. Made of rolled oats, brown sugar or honey, dried fruit, and nuts, granola was seen as a healthier alternative to heavier breakfast fare like bacon and eggs.

1974: Crepes
A continued obsession with French cuisine (see 1963 and 1969) leads to the rise of the at-home crepe maker and voila! These flat pancakes become a sweet addition to brunch. Skip the cumbersome crepe maker and try our two-ingredient recipe!

1975: Sushi
New York Times restaurant critic Craig Claiborne declared sushi, “a trifle too ‘far out’ for many American palates" in 1963, but by the mid ‘70s, the Hollywood set had embraced the raw fish dish, thanks to restaurants like L.A.’s Tokyo Kaikan, where the California roll was invented!  


Rachael Ray Show

1976: Chicken Kiev
This classic—a chicken breast with a cheesy, oozing garlicky core—was ubiquitous dinner party fare throughout the decade. Rachael’s version of the classic includes a kicky herb salsa—try it for yourself! 

1977: Pasta Primavera
Pasta Primavera was the talk of the town in Manhattan in the ‘70s, when Le Cirque chef Sirio Maccioni introduced this cream-based pasta dish, accented with an explosion of green veggies.

1978: Hummingbird Cake
Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of Greensboro, N.C., takes the cake for creating this delectable pineapple-banana-spice cake with cream cheese frosting. First published in Southern Living in 1978, it remains the magazine’s most-requested recipe!

1979: Cajun Blackened Fish
If it was charred or blackened, it was popular in 1979. Chef Paul Prudhomme opened his K-Paul Louisiana Kitchens in this year, and his follow-up cookbook, Louisiana Kitchen, put this dish on the map.

1980: Potato Skins
Someone in the ‘80s had the bright idea of scraping out potato innards and loading the empty skins with with everything from sour cream to cheese to chives, even chili. Here are 11 different variations on this game-day snack from our kitchen!  


Rachael Ray Show

1981: Baked Brie
A simple idea that’s still as popular today as it was when it first became trendy back in 1981: take a wheel of brie, top it with a bit of jam, wrap it in puff pastry and bake it. Here are four fresh “brie en croute” twists we like. 

1982: Pasta Salad
Still a staple at picnics and summer lunches, pasta salad reached peak popularity in 1982, when the New York Times wrote, “the pasta salad, that darling of the carry-out shop, is here to stay.” Bored with your typical tri-colore concoction? Try Rach’s bright and fresh pesto pasta salad.

1983: Couscous
Quinoa in the ‘80s? No way! This decade was defined by couscous—the traditional Moroccan staple that became a popular post-aerobics lunch.

1984: Tiramisu
This dessert has its roots in the 17th century, but tiramisu was all the rage in the ‘80s. Today, you’d be hard-pressed to visit an Italian restaurant without the espresso-soaked sweet treat on the menu. Want to give it a go at home? Try our five-minute tiramisu fake-out


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1985: Fajitas
In the early ‘80s, this sizzling dish was gaining popularity in restaurants throughout the Southwest, but by the middle of the decade, it was a staple. Have your own fajita night at home with Rach’s classic skirt steak recipe!

1986: Monkey Bread
This ooey-gooey sweet loaf was a breakfast go-to in the ‘80s, as First Lady Nancy Reagan served it at casual White House functions and later included it in the family’s White House cookbook. Katie Lee’s shortcut version calls for refrigerated, store-bought biscuit dough and adds a trendy twist, thanks to the addition of pumpkin pie spice!

1987: Chocolate Truffles
Chocolate maker Alice Medrich started making a variation of these treats in 1973, but it wasn’t until the New York Times wrote about them in the late ‘80s that they were widely accepted in the U.S. as dessert or a DIY gift.

1988: Bran Muffins
The popularity of this humble muffin shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the decade’s emphasis on low-fat and low-cholesterol foods, but they later fell out of favor due to their high sugar content. If you still need a muffin fix, try this gluten-free pumpkin spice and walnut-raisin variation.

1989: Crème Brûlée
Before the 1980s, crème brûlée was virtually unknown to most Americans. The dish, which is surprisingly English in origin—not French—rose to fame thanks to chefs like Paul Bocuse and Le Cirque’s Sirio Maccioni. Use a secret pantry ingredient to whip up your own in a flash with this recipe

1990: Fusion Pizzas
Thanks to the rise of California Pizza Kitchen, the humble pizza pie saw all sorts of inspired toppings! From Thai chicken to Jamaican Jerk seasoning, a number of different cultural influences all found their way onto pizza dough. Shawarma Chicken Pizza on Naan or Chicken Teriyaki Pizza, anyone?


Rachael Ray Show

1991: Chinese Chicken Salad
The origin of Chinese chicken salad is debatable, but one thing is clear: it was on everyone’s plate in the ‘90s! This Cal-Fusion blend of chicken breast, chow mein noodles, pickled ginger, carrots, mandarin oranges and lettuce was on the menu everywhere.

1992: Ranch Dressing
This creamy mayonnaise, buttermilk and herb dressing had been around for years, but overtook Italian as the nation’s best-selling salad topper in 1992.

1993: Veggie Burgers
You could find veggie burgers on the odd restaurant menu in early ‘90s, but it wasn’t until the mid-90s that tasty, pre-made options hit supermarkets and really went mainstream. Skip the freezer aisle and try Rach’s Mediterranean veggie burgers with provolone and Italian ketchup. 

1994: Caesar Salad
The Caesar salad may be a “basic” option today, but in the ‘90s, it was anything but. The dish saw a meteoric rise in popularity from this 1993 New York Times piece, when diners ate out specifically for the salad.


Rachael Ray Show

1995: Molten Lava Cake
This melty, chocolatey goodness originated in the ‘80s, but only after big-name chefs put it on their menus did the dessert really took off. Speaking of big-name chefs, we recommend Wolfgang Puck’s Molten Chocolate Lava Cake.

1996: Sun-Dried Tomatoes
The Italian food boom in the States brought a lesser-known tomato variation to the forefront – the chewy, tart sun-dried tomato, used most often in pasta dishes and salads. Try them in this recipe for Prosecco-Braised Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Leeks from former “Top Chef” Fabio Viviani.

1997: Fried Calamari
Squid—a cheap, nutritious, and sustainable seafood—was largely ignored by Americans (ewww) until the mid-’90s when these crispy fried rings, served with tangy marinara, stole the show. Upgrade this trattoria favorite with a full-on fall-inspired fritto misto.

1998: Cosmopolitan
Sex and the City made its television debut in 1998, putting this vodka-cranberry juice concoction into the hands of women everywhere.

1999: Roasted Red Bell Peppers
Stuffed, roasted, blended into soup, or even casseroled, this ruby-hued veggie was everywhere in 1999. Try them stuffed with meat for a comforting meal!  


Rachael Ray Show

2000: Smoothies
The year 2000 was supposed to bring us rocket cars, but instead we got smoothie and juice bars popping up all over cities. Suddenly, cups of blended, frozen fruit became everyone’s breakfast on-the-go!

2001: EVOO
Our very own Rachael Ray made her television debut in 2001, which launched EVOO (“extra-virgin olive oil”) into the minds—and pantries—of Americans.

2002: Bacon
Bacon has been on everyone’s breakfast plate for years, but the popularity of this salty, porky treat skyrocketed in 2002, when it was included in everything from cupcakes to chocolate. (Even the Cake Boss shared a chocolate-bacon cake!)

2003: Lattes + Frappes
What was life like before Starbucks? In the early aughts, coffee dates were on everyone’s agenda and soon enough, everyone was running on java!

2004: Yogurt
Nutritionists deemed Greek yogurt as the new god-given source of protein – a major focal point in ‘04.

2005: Cupcakes
Before cupcakes were a televised baking competition, they became popular with the help of Magnolia Bakery’s ubiquity in Sex and the City. By 2005, these frosting-topped treats were everywhere, in all forms. Want three tips for making better cupcakes at home? A cupcake expert reveals all! 


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