The Food Everyone Was Obsessed With The Year You Were Born (2024)

The Food Everyone Was Obsessed With The Year You Were Born (1)

Trends in food, like those in fashion and beauty, change with the times. They sometimes take years, or even decades, to percolate and peak, and once they do, they can stick around on menus forever, or go the way of the fondue pot and disappear forever.

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1

1970: Quiche

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Quiche! What a throwback. This amazingly versatile savory pie first surfaced in an American magazine in 1941, according to Sylvia Lovegren's Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads, and rose in popularity through the '50s. People loved it because it was a good way to get rid of leftovers, it was a vehicle for creativity, and it was French, which meant it was chic and sophisticated. By the '70s, you could find some form of quiche (but especially quiche Lorraine) on nearly every restaurant and catering menu in America.

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2

1971: Eggs Benedict

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Crazy to think it, but people were brunching before millennials were brunching. I know, right? Anyway, the art of the Sunday brunch became a real thing in the '70s. "No self-respecting diner would be caught dead eating before 11:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning," according to David Leite of Leite's Culinaria.

Eggs Benedict "became the sine qua non of brunch dishes," writes Merrill Shindler in American Dish. Take a split English muffin, top a toasted slice with Canadian bacon, a poached egg, and Hollandaise sauce, and you've got yourself a classic Eggs Benedict.

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3

1972: Tequila Sunrise

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Mick Jagger first had the Tequila Sunrise — a co*cktail made with orange juice, tequila, and grenadine — while partying at a San Francisco bar called the Trident in 1972. The Rolling Stones drank enough of the stuff that Keith Richards later revealed that the tour was known as "the cocaine and Tequila Sunrise tour." The drink got so popular that the next year, the Eagles released a song called "Tequila Sunrise."

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4

1973: Fondue

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The '60s got Americans turned on to the idea of Swiss fondue, and by the '70s, seemingly everyone had a fondue pot that they'd bust out for parties that involved "cooking" at the table. As Lovegren wrote in Fashionable Food, "Foreign, sophisticated, easy, and fun, fondue was served in a gleaming pot, which in its streamlined beauty bristling with long-handled dipping forks resembled nothing so much as the space-age satellites circling Earth's atmosphere."

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5

1974: Granola

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In the '60s, health food was for hippies, but it went mainstream in the '70s, and granola made an appealing ambassador of the movement. The Granola Cookbook came out in 1973, but most people kept it simple and ate it with yogurt or fruit for breakfast.

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6

1975: Pasta Primavera

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People were really into creamy pasta in the '70s, when fettucine alfredo and spaghetti carbonara supplanted red sauce dishes that were no longer cool. Sirio Maccioni, the owner of New York City's literally legendary Le Cirque restaurant, claims to have first put together this mix of long noodles, creamy white sauce, and vegetables. The recipe ran in the New York Times in 1977, credited to Le Cirque, even though, according to Lovegren's Fashionable Food, the dish has never been on the menu.

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7

1976: General Tso's Chicken

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The origins of General Tso's chicken are convoluted enough that there's a documentary devoted to the topic. The dish as it's made in America — deep-fried, sweet and sour, boneless — might have been created by a chef named Peng Chang-kuei in Taiwan, or a different chef called T.T. Wang in New York City. Henry Kissinger is involved somehow. Either way, General Tso's chicken really found its way into the American appetite around this time.

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8

1977: Buffalo Wings

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Fried chicken wings coated in cayenne pepper hot sauce and dipped in blue cheese: Who doesn't love that buffalo stuff? The now ubiquitous bar snack was first invented in 1964 at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, though there are other disputing claims. In 1977, the city of Buffalo declared July 29 to be the official Chicken Wing Day.

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9

1978: Croissants

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In the '70s, "Americans went wild for flaky, buttery croissants," Lovegren writes in Fashionable Food, and they would either buy them from croissant shops or make them at home using refrigerated Pillsbury Crescent dough. Meanwhile, in Paris, to counter the hamburger's rise in popularity, shops used croissants as sandwich bread, filling them with things like ham, cheese, mushrooms, and more.

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10

1979: Goat Cheese Salad

If you were bougie in the late '70s, you were eating fresh goat cheese (chèvre if you're extra fancy). Pioneering Northern California chefs like Alice Waters and Jeremiah Tower promoted local cheesemakers by incorporating these "new" varieties of cheese into their menus. Tower served sliced rounds of the cheese warm over salad greens, and people were really into it.

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11

1980: Ranch Dressing

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A plumbing contractor working in the Alaskan bush created this salad dressing, made with buttermilk, mayonnaise, garlic, onion, and herbs like dill and chives, in the 1950s. That man, Steve Henson, later served the dressing at his Santa Barbara dude ranch, Hidden Valley Ranch (get where this is going?), selling it in packets for customers to take home. Henson and his wife Gayle later created Hidden Valley Ranch Food Products, and the rest is history. "It quickly became the preferred way to infuse otherwise healthy dishes with a palatable amount of fat," according to Slate, and was everywhere in the '80s. By 1992, it had become the best-selling salad dressing in America.

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12

1981: Kiwi

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Kiwis, once known as Chinese gooseberries, started their slow takeover in 1962, when an L.A. grocer started importing them from New Zealand, according to Shindler's American Dish. They were decorating salads, meat dishes, and tarts everywhere by the early '80s, when they became so pervasive that there was a kiwi backlash by the middle of the decade.

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13

1982: Crème Brûlée

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Here's another insanely popular dish that has a link to Le Cirque restaurant in NYC. Though the dessert had been around for centuries in Europe, and had even been served in the White House at the time of Thomas Jefferson's presidency, it had a major moment in the 1980s when it appeared on Le Cirque's menu. "Le Cirque's crème brûlée launched a thousand copycats," according to Saveur, "and it's now a restaurant staple, with variations ranging from fresh mint to pumpkin to foie gras."

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14

1983: Penne Alla Vodka

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Italians first started making vodka sauce in the 1970s, and Americans embraced it in the '80s after a New York City eatery called Joanna's Restaurant started serving it. The creamy tomato sauce actually does have vodka in it, and for a reason: "The addition of vodka brings out flavors in the tomatoes that are alcohol soluble," according to Serious Eats.

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15

1984: Blackened Fish

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If you see blackened anything on a menu these days, thank the 1984 cookbook Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen. The charismatic and boisterous Prudhomme introduced Louisiana Cajun cooking to the masses, but it was the blackened fish that really took. The intensely seasoned filets are dropped in a super-hot skillet and are cooked until, well, blackened.

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16

1985: Fajitas

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The origins of this dish perhaps go back to the American southwest in the 1930s, when cowboys cooked beef over campfire. It gained traction through the '60s and '70s as Tex-Mex cuisine spread across the U.S. In the '80s, a German-born chef named George Weidmann put "sizzling fajitas" on the menu at the Hyatt Regency in Austin, and according to the Austin Chronicle, "sales of that signature dish made it the most profitable restaurant in the Hyatt chain."

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17

1986: Wine Coolers

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Also known as a wine spritzer, the wine cooler dominated the '80s. While the drink might not represent the height of class, it's pretty tasty tbh. Mixing wine with soda, carbonated water, or juice doesn't sound that heinous, does it? Alcohol brands sold bottled "wine coolers" to capitalize on the trend, and Bruce Willis even starred in a Seagrams ad with the tagline, "This is where the fun starts."

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18

1987: Chocolate Truffles

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The '80s were all about luxury chocolate, especially truffles. In 1973, a woman named Alice Medrich started making and selling chocolate truffles out of her home in Berkeley, California. She later opened a specialty chocolate store called Cocolat, where she sold the chocolate morsels — "all wickedly sensuous, velvety smooth and filled with calories," according to a New York Times articlearticle from 1988 — and truffles quickly spread. The mounds of chocolates rolled in cocoa powder or chopped nuts often appeared at the end of a restaurant meal or were given as DIY gifts.

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19

1988: Sushi

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Los Angelenos got to have the first taste of sushi in America in the 1950s and '60s. It soon became popular with Hollywood celebs. Sushi's trendiness soared with the invention of the California roll in the '70s, and by the '80s, sushi was everywhere. "Much like a mass religious conversion, a whole generation decided that not only was seafood healthy, it was especially healthy if eaten raw," Shindler wrote in American Dish.

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20

1989: Veggie Burgers

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According to the Smithsonian, a London-based natural food restaurant owner (and lifelong vegetarian) named Gregory Sams first marketed a meatless patty called the "VegeBurger" in 1982 as a dry mix that would get rehydrated before consumption. By the mid-'80s, the VegeBurger had landed stateside, where other vegetarian patties like the Gardenburger were also being introduced.

The Food Everyone Was Obsessed With The Year You Were Born (2024)
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