The baby boomer generation have proved to be influential and have really shaped the world that we know and love today. And while they have proved to be a positive influence for the world of business, economy and pop culture, they also gave us some pretty questionable processed food creations, unsightly dishes and fast food chains that just never seem to die.
The term Baby boomer refers to the generation were born in the 40s, 50s, and 60s after World War II. Their influence continued to shape the economic prosperity, food trends and youth culture of the 1960s and 70s. Life was much different back then. This generation could afford to buy a house on a middle-class income and eat whatever they wanted. While most of this generation are now entering retirement, they were never faced with millennial struggles like high rents, economic insecurity, health consciousness or concerns over the planet. So while they may be still stuck in the past, let’s take a look back at some of the craziest food trends that have ever existed.
There are so many ways to eat toast. And while we are pretty used to seeing countless Instagram-worthy posts about #avocodotoast, there’s also plenty of other less hipster and flavorsome toppings you can choose.
From melted mozzarella and tomato to roasted vegetables, grilled chicken, poached eggs or omelets, the topping possibilities are literally endless. If you’re still stumped about what to choose, just add butter. However, for the baby boomers, there’s no need to add any crazy toppings, when they’ve already found their classic choice: plain, dry, white, unflavored toast.
When it comes to flavor, most cooks will tell you that seasoning is key. Now we are in the 21st century, there’s plenty of readily available spices and seasoning from around the world, which can give each dish a distinct and unique flavor.
Still, for most baby boomers, they’ve already found their all-star seasoning solution, Mrs. Dash. This magical all-in-one seasoning can work for every dish. And every dish will taste the same! So it seems for this generation, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, they’ve already found their favorite brand.
On first glance, meatloaf does look pretty insane. We get that for the baby boomers, mincing all the end of the meat together in an unattractive brown loaf might have seemed like a good idea at the time. But what is that brown glaze over the outside? Why is there so much oil seeping out?
For us millennials, meatloaf might look a little unappetizing. By today’s standards, it also looks pretty unhealthy. What’s more, it also tastes a little brown. However, we’re guessing it brings back a sense of nostalgia for baby boomers, so they don’t even think about that special brown taste.
Mayonnaise-based Salads with Fruit
When we think of a bowl of salad, the aim of the game is usually to be healthy. So the bowl will usually be served with a colorful variety of healthy vegetables, trendy superfoods, nuts, seeds, protein, avocado and of course, low-fat dressing.
Even if you’re not so health-conscious, it’s generally accepted that drowning our salad in mayonnaise, is probably not the healthiest route to go. It kind of defeats the purpose of a healthy salad. However, for baby boomers, this is just how salads are dressed. And there are no rules, so dousing their broccoli and grape salad with lashings of mayonnaise is totally cool.
Savory Jell-O Products
We’re not quite sure how this trend started, or how it continued to stay popular, but we’d love to meet the nutty professor who created gelatin salads. The crazy part is that the ‘Jell-O for salads’ doesn’t even contain vegetables, it is seasoned with a special mixed vegetable imitation flavor.
If you have food poisoning or are sick, then Jell-O can be a comforting, jelly-based product that’s easy to eat. However, it’s usually blended with a tasty fruity flavor like strawberry. Amazingly in the 1970s, Jell-O salads blew up. So for baby boomers, they still remain a comforting vegetable alternative.
Juice from Concentrate
For millennials, we might still roll our eyes at the price of freshly squeezed orange juice from Starbucks. After all, no one should have to pay $5 for just a squeezed orange. Still, it does seem a little healthier to know exactly what goes in our glass.
For baby boomers, they clearly had no time for freshly squeezing anything. Back then, it was all about fruity flavored juice from concentrate. Well, a bottle of concentrate is cheaper and does last longer. However, you never could be quite sure what chemicals were inside. Still, it does say it might contain traces of vitamin C, so for baby boomers, this is all they need to know.
For baby boomers, everything was about convenience. Since we all love watching TV every night, it makes sense that we should eat a convenient TV dinner. Why cook, when you can simply get a pre-packed or processed buffet ready frozen meal.
In theory, we can totally understand the logic of buying a whole meal at once. After all, who has time to spend hours in the store, preparing, cooking and washing up? The only snag is we now know that these processed ready meals were usually not so healthy. Still, for baby boomers, that’s what they grew up eating, and they still watch TV, so there’s no harm in eating a TV dinner.
Buffets are another invention that sounds great in theory, especially the all-you-can-eat kind. This means you can literally eat your heart out and tuck into a never-ending stream of steak, lobster, Chinese food, and stacks of pancakes for dessert.
Still, why all that buffet food may taste delicious, it’s usually filled with a stream of low-quality, dishes that are dripping in diabetes. And the fact that you could eat as much as you like, screams heart disease. And these are health issues that our generation really doesn’t need.
The idea of chain restaurants might seem like a great business idea. After all, if you open the same chains in every city, everyone will already recognize the brand, know the full menu and have their own selection of favorite dishes. The chain restaurants are usually popular for their lower prices too.
Still, if you’ve ever read the nutritional information for chains like Applebee’s or Olive Garden, you’ll find that the food is the greatest quality. Most millennials would much prefer to head to a higher quality local restaurant. Still, most baby boomers continue to dine in their favorite chain restaurants, as they already know the menu.
One of the other lasting legacies of the baby boom generation are paper napkins. We can totally understand that you need to wipe your hands sometimes, and you can make them into artistic paper swans or decorative features at the table.
However, they are usually laying on the table as decoration, and are one of the most environmentally damaging products out there. Since there are now plenty of other eco-friendly alternatives, like cloth napkins, this is one legacy that we could easily kiss goodbye to.
Cornflakes could easily win a contest as one of the world’s most boring cereals. At least with Rice Krispies, you can transform them into Rice Krispie treats. However, cornflakes are tasteless flakes and there’s so many other varieties out there.
The icing on the cake is that when you add milk into the bowl, cornflakes simply melt away and float around in a flavorless, soggy puddle of sadness. We would even choose shredded wheat over cornflakes any day.
Back in the day, canned soup was a popular choice for baby boomers. It was cheap, convenient and lasted for months. However, one of the reason it lasts for such a long time is because it’s packed with preservatives, lashings of sodium and has little traces of nutrients.
Nowadays, most health gurus would advise us that canned food is a source of chemicals like BPA, so it’s not so healthy in the long term. Now it’s easy to buy fresh ingredients and blend them to make a delicious, homemade soup. Still, most baby boomers still stick to what they already know.
Meat and Potatoes
For baby boomers, it seems like the aim of any dinner was to cram as much stodge, meat, and carbs on your plate as you could. After all, they had previously been on war rations. And who needs vegetables when you can get Jell-O-flavored salad alternatives.
Nowadays, we are usually told by nutritionists that too much red meat is bad for your arteries. Too much starchy carbs are not so good for your health either. Even adding a hint of vegetables, or a lettuce leaf might help. Still, you can’t teach a baby boomer new tricks.
Processed Cheese Products
Nothing screams suspicion like processed cheese. These products may be cheaper, last longer, look more yellow and come in more varieties than regular, fresh cheese. However, part of their appeal is that they are packed with a mysterious concoction of chemicals and additives.
Unsurprisingly, in recent years there has been a decline in sales for processed cheese varieties. Evidently, this generation would prefer to buy fresh, local cheese that’s filled with ingredients they can pronounce.
On a hot summer’s day, there’s nothing that can beat the refreshing taste of an ice-cold can of Coke or Pepsi. However, this doesn’t mean that drinking a can of ice-cold soda is ever healthy for you, on any day, whatever the weather.
Even though the drinks companies have tried to convince us with sugar-free soda alternatives, soda is still not so good for your teeth or general health. But, thanks to the baby boomers, they started a serious soda addiction. This generation is now trying to kick the habit.
As the baby boomers grew up, so did the rise in popularity of “Italian restaurants” across American and the world. However, the food that you would typically find on the menu, is much different than the delicacies you would find at an authentic restaurant in Italy.
It might surprise you since you’ve probably become accustomed to eating these dishes your entire life. Still, delicacies like spaghetti and meatballs, topped with garlic bread were actually created to cater to American taste, and not what you would typically find at authentic Italian restaurants.
In some ways, the baby boomers did become a little more health conscious through the years and attempted to produce some healthier alternatives for food and drinks. One of these creations was bud light, and the beer was promoted as a lighter alternative to Budweiser beer.
While you can argue that bud light is easier to drink than the real stuff, and may contain a little less sugar or calories, it’s also pretty tasteless. Evidently, baby boomers don’t really care so much about taste and flavor. Nowadays, this generation seems to prefer flavored craft beers or wine.
It seems like ketchup has been around since the dawn of time. However, the iconic spicy tomato sauce was really popularized by the baby boomers. Now it’s become generally accepted around the world that the best way to season every hamburger and fries is with ketchup.
While ketchup is a form of spicy seasoning, that doesn’t mean it’s the most delicious or flavorsome tomato sauce around. Now in every store, you can find a rich variety of spicy seasonings and unique flavored sauces. Still, the baby boomers prefer to stick to what they know and love.
Firstly, meat should never really be kept in a can. Secondly, there are so many other elements that we need to talk about. The idea of storing processed meat in an aluminum can drenched in some suspicious sauce, sounds like a recipe for a disaster.
Unsurprisingly, more people in this generation are opting for meat that looks a lot more like real meat. So many prefer to buy locally-raised, grass-fed beef. Even though real meat may be a little more expensive than a $1 can, you can bet that the quality will be better.
Tuna Noodle Casserole
We’re still trying to understand how this tradition started. If somebody told you that tossing egg noodles in a bowl with creamy condensed soup, canned tuna, and frozen vegetables sounds like a good idea, you might run in the opposite direction.
Although it does sound like a crazy combination of food by today’s standards, for the baby boomers, this was a typical Tuesday. We’re sure it provided a great comfort food in the winter, but a fresh tuna steak with grilled vegetables and pasta sounds way more appetizing.
As you can tell, we’re a big fan of vegetables. And there’s plenty of ways to and cook them. You could grill, bake, fry, steam or braise them, or even just serve them in raw in a colorful salad. Still, the idea of boiling all the flavor out of these vegetables is still hard to process.
However, for the baby boomers, the best way to keep vegetables fresher for longer was to freeze them. Then when you’re ready to cook all the flavor and nutrients out of them, you can boil them in water. The result is usually a tasteless, flavorless bowl of vegetables. But at least you can count them as one of your five a day!
By anyone’s standards, mints shouldn’t count as your daily calories. They should be a simple sweet that you can take at the end of your meal to freshen your breath. However, the baby boomers had the genius idea of combining mint with your dessert dish.
This became known as the butter mint, a traditional, buttery, sweet, minty candy that you can eat after dinner. While they might sound like they have a lot of buttery, sugary flavor, they don’t sound like the healthiest mint in the store so we would opt for an Altoid mint any day.
Another buttery spin-off product on the list is margarine. Margarine was promoted as a healthy alternative to butter and offered a hydrogenated oil product with a creamy, buttery texture. The best part was that you could still spread on toast, so many baby boomers were a fan.
Margarine may be a slightly healthier alternative to butter and also tastes great. However, studies have now shown that margarine is actually not so good for our general health or heart health as they first believed.
While the Watergate scandal might have become infamous in the 1970s, the Watergate salad could also be considered just as much as a scandal to our taste buds. To make it even more confusing, the popular dish is not even a salad, it’s a pudding.
The traditional baby boomer dessert is packed with a questionable concoction of jello, instant pistachio pudding, marshmallows, canned pineapples, and walnuts. It challenges everything we thought we knew about deserts and this is one tradition we can happily say goodbye to.
If we had told you that we’re going to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving, you would probably assume that we’re going to drizzle the outside with seasoning and flavor. But for baby boomers, this would be missing the point. Turkey should always be cooked with turkey stuffing.
Turkey stuffing may sound harmless enough, but it actually has the opposite effect and can dry out the turkey. It can also be harmful as when turkey cooks, it could contain traces of salmonella, which will be absorbed into the stuffing. So you need to cook it well to prevent any of this happening, or just make the stuffing on the side.
If you didn’t read the label on this packet of Aspartame sugar alternative, then you might just assume that you were flavoring your tea with a healthier, zero calorie, sugar-free sweet n’ low granule.
However, if you look at what it really says in red, you’ll understand this laboratory-made sugar substitution actually contains numerous unreadable chemicals. If you still weren’t convinced that this popular baby boomer product is harmful for your health, it even says loudly in red, that it “contains saccharin which has been determined to cause cancer.” Ok, so we’ll swerve this one.
Another mysterious chemical introduction that was developed during the baby boom era is olestra. It was initially promoted as an all-star fat substitute that is typically added to food products like potato chips. It claims to offer a zero fat, zero calories or cholesterol solution for all our problems.
However, as with most chemicals, they can also have side-effects. While it can lower the fat content of these food products, olestra can also be the cause of painful other symptoms like diarrhea and stomach cramps. Many countries have now ditched these products, so you should really check the label.
We have to admit, we never really understood the tradition of cramming all your meat into one giant meat pate. Perhaps it was a way to use up all your leftover meat for the baby boomers. Either way, it really doesn’t look visually appealing, and you really don’t know what’s lurking inside.
Still, many baby boomers continue to uphold this tradition and serve this grey-looking meat pate loaf on top of a slice of bread, with pickles. For most millennials, the look and the idea and the smell is enough to want to keep this meaty tradition in the past.
Throughout the years, many people have defied the rules of acceptable sauce combinations. We mean, who would have thought that peanut butter and jelly could work so well together. However, the idea of barbecue sauce and grape jelly does sound a little off.
While BBQ sauce and grape jelly can taste great separately, they are both packed with entirely different flavors. So it seems strange that the baby boomers had so much prosperity and choice in sauces, but they still chose to combine these flavors into one strange paste to pour over their weenies.
Strawberry Bon Bons
In this day and age, we really can take our pick from branded sweet treats of candy varieties. From M&M’s and Skittles to Hershey’s or Reese’s there’s a never-ending stream of candy-filled possibilities. Still, one candy that is still all the rage with baby boomers is strawberry bonbons.
We’re sure that baby boomers feel a sense of nostalgia when they pick up a classic strawberry bonbon, as each piece has been individually wrapped. It probably reminds them of their childhood. Still, we have so much candy at our fingertips now, so we wish they would explore the other sweet options too!
Seasonal Sausage Snack Platters
For most millennials, if we were going to buy or send a platter to someone, we would usually choose an exotic fruit, French cheese or delicious dessert platter, or anything that looked like a visually appetizing plate of food.
However, if you were lucky enough to receive a platter gift from your client or friend for Christmas, you would probably hope it was anything but a sausage platter. We mean, sausages can be great, just not as a seasonal gift to show someone how much you care.
Now we have nothing against curly parsley. Back in the day, most restaurants would traditional garnish every meal with a side of curly parsley. Not only did it look decorative on the plate, but it also tasted great. However, this is classic baby boomer garnish that has slowly phased itself out in recent years.
Now, in most restaurants, you’ll find that the curly parsley variety has been replaced with its older cousin, the flat-leaf parsley. This variety has actually become more popular as it has a bolder, more distinct flavor
Cream Cheese and Bologna Sandwiches
We’re beginning to understand that the most popular food for the baby boomer generation, is starchy, cheesy, creamy, meaty comfort food. And they are traditionally molded together in a variety of comforting ways.
So the idea of a sandwich, filled with cream cheese spread and bologna does sound comforting. However, we now understand that the mix of white bread, creamy cheese and bologna are not so healthy by today’s standards, so this is one tradition that can stay in the 60s.
Another classic baby boomer trait is their love for convenient, ready-meals. So it would have made perfect sense to order from Schwan’s selection of frozen ready meals, which can be conveniently delivered to your home.
Seemingly, the idea of even hitting the store to buy your frozen, ready-made meal was a little too much effort. That way they could stay watching the TV and receive their own TV dinner. While it sounds great and convenient in theory, most millennials would prefer to buy fresh, unprocessed foods.
This shocking picture of food makes the Jell-O salad look like a gourmet meal. We’re not sure how the trend of aspic started, but this is another crazy food creation that we wish we could have stopped at the production line.
Aspic is a savory jelly mold that is created with meat stock. Inside you can find a crazy concoction of seafood, mixed with pieces of meat. To top it off, you can even find pieces of egg lurking in there. We will never really understand the obsession with molding real food into jelly, but clearly, they had their own special reasons.
Snackwell’s Low-fat Foods
During the baby boom generation, they seemed to have found new magical ways to make branded snacks fat-free. However, while it may say on the label that these Snackwell cookies are fat-free, it doesn’t always mean they’re so healthy for you.
More often than not, to make these snack have zero fat, they usually add chemicals and additives. It’s also still processed, and you never really know what the process is. So it’s better to stay away from these fat-free mysterious alternatives.
Wonder bread may take you back to your childhood when you were more than happy to eat your American yellow cheese sandwich at lunchtime on processed white bread. However, these processed white loaves actually are lacking in any nutritional value.
For millennials, we’ve become a little fussier about which bread we choose. Call us hipsters, but most have become a little more health conscious today. So nowadays if you scan any menu in a restaurant, you’re more likely to find artisanal multi-grain bread than a Wonder loaf.
While chicken will always be delicious and milk will always be refreshing, the person that first thought of this milk chicken monstrosity must be missing a few taste buds. The very idea of pouring milk over your chicken sounds like a kitchen disaster.
However, for baby boomers, milk chicken was life. While it looks like someone accidentally dropped their ice cream over the chicken, we’re sure it tastes a little off too. There’s one thing for certain, we can leave this delicacy in the past.
Cool Whip may sound pretty cool, and if you want some ready-made and convenient whipped sauce to ice your cake with, then we can totally see the appeal. However, this whipped sauce is also crammed with ingredients that we can’t even pronounce.
There is also a fat-free version, but this is still filled with chemicals like hydrogenated oils. Oil should never really be in whipped cream so we would choose a real whipped cream any time.
Molded Liver Paste
The very idea of eating liver paste probably sounds strange to most millennials. While liver does have some health benefits, nutrients and vitamins, it can be served in a more appetizing way on the plate than a molded paste.
The concoction is also not just liver. The recipe for the paste includes liver sausage, mayonnaise, and unflavored gelatin. If that’s not a reason to run in the opposite direction of the dinner table, then we don’t know what to tell you!