15 Classic American Foods That Deserve a Comeback
Comfort food and nostalgia go hand and hand. It's no surprise that classic comfort foods remind you of your childhood. You grew up with your mom making your favorite soothing meal as a consolation prize when you deserved a reward, when you weren't feeling well, or when you just needed a hug.
Of course, dishes like mac 'n cheese, mashed potatoes, and meatloaf have stood the test of time and are still giving comfort to this day. However, countless once-upon-a-time dishes did their job well, but for whatever reason, are no longer around for the party. Take a trip down memory lane with these comfort foods you haven't eaten in years. Ready for the nostalgia to continue? Then you won't want to miss these 15 Classic American Desserts That Are No Longer Made.
Chicken a la King
Queen of the comfort food dinners in the early 20th century, especially in winter, this steamy rich dish was created with diced chicken, mushrooms, veggies, and sherry cream sauce and served over toast or biscuits. It was crowned in the 1800s, appearing on menus in upscale restaurants, namely in New York City. But in the '50s, Chicken a la King held court in households across the nation. Turkey a la King was just as indulgent, but neither are served as often today as a similar classic: chicken pot pie.
With Jewish and New York City roots, this drink doesn't contain eggs or cream. It was a regionally revered beverage made with chocolate, seltzer, and milk and served often at soda fountains and in luncheonettes.
Marshmallow fluff is the quintessential feel-good food. I have a friend who always travels with a jar of the stuff—she eats it with a spoon straight out of the jar. In the '60s and '70s, peanut butter and marshmallow fluff slathered between two slices of white bread became a comfort sandwich for kids, but not so much anymore (perhaps because many of us are watching our sugar intake). By the way, National Fluffernutter Day is October 8, if you need an excuse to eat this classic sandwich.
Want to give the old recipe a new spin? Try this Fluffernutter Panini recipe from Taste & Tell.
This is your grandmother's comfort food: a pudding made with tapioca and cream or milk served cold or (better yet) warm. Tapioca is a starch extracted from the cassava root; these days, you'll find it in bubble tea more often than in pudding.
This comfort fruit dish, especially popular in the fall, was in its heyday in the '50s. It was one of the "healthier" comfort foods and is typically baked with cinnamon, sugar, and butter.
Welsh rarebit was the ultimate comfort food dinner: a quick meal built with toasted bread blanketed with a cheesy sauce (sometimes made with beer) and then baked or broiled. (My dad used the Stouffer's boxed version, which he would doctor with bacon and tomatoes.) It was a savory comfort dish that's sadly vanished from dining tables.
Tuna Noodle Casserole
This dish evokes childhood memories, and maybe that's the most comforting thing about it. It was a family meal featuring canned tuna fish, shredded cheese, canned veggies like peas or corn, and that clutch Cream of Mushroom soup. A can of fried onions sprinkled on top gave this casserole its comfort crunch.
Rice pudding has a storied history and has had a place at the table in regions throughout the world for centuries. In the United States, rice pudding is commonly made with rice, milk, butter, and cinnamon. It's particularly comforting when served warm, and it's made even more gratifying with the addition of whiskey or maple syrup.
When the 'rents went out for the evening, it was TV dinners for the kiddos. Today, it's more like take-out or delivery night. TV dinners were a fun-loving meal where you could eat on a TV tray, not at the dinner table, and watch the night's television lineup (on 13 channels). Swanson's Hungry Man Turkey TV Dinner was popular in the '70s, and so was Swanson's Salisbury Steak TV Dinner with its tiny compartments of peas, mashed potatoes, and cobbler dessert.
Ready for more throwbacks? These Old TV Dinners Will Make You So Nostalgic For Your Childhood.
Root Beer Float
A foamy dessert made with root beer and generous scoops of vanilla ice cream, a root beer float was often shared on first dates with high school sweethearts, or with grandpa at the soda fountain.
Grandma's Corn Pudding
Talk about Southern comfort—even the name of this dish is consoling. It was once very popular in the South and is created using corn, eggs, milk or heavy cream, sugar, and butter. We think it's still 'gram-worthy today.
A dessert that seemed to melt away emotional and physical pain, popular flavors were chocolate, vanilla, and butterscotch. And banana pudding with Nilla Wafers in the '50s was a hit, especially in the South. Now, you're more likely to find pudding cups in hospital cafeterias before ever whipping it up at home yourself.
Wiggly, squiggly, sugary, and colorful, there were no redeeming healthy qualities to this gelatinous dessert. It was a desired comfort food whether as a snack at home or even at a holiday meal in the form of a Jell-O salad mold made in a Bundt pan.
Franks and Baked Beans
A comfort supper, especially in New England, this meal was inexpensive and hearty. It's made, of course, with frankfurters, but the secret was in those beans, typically simmered in sweet molasses. Throw in some brown bread (homemade in a can or store-bought) and you've got a traditional Saturday night in New England meal.
Not sure what brand to buy? We Taste-Tested 10 Different Kinds of Baked Beans—Here Are the Best.
Just the idea that it was a sloppy dish was comforting to kids—it was a license to let the meat tumble down their chin and into their lap, at no fault of their own. The loose meat sandwich, which was very popular in the Midwest, was made with a blend of ground beef, onions, tomato sauce or ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce and then slopped on a hamburger bun. Who's Joe? Who knows.
Now that you've taken a trip down memory lane, why not add one of these throwback dishes to your meal plan for the week? And for more nifty tricks, don't miss these 52 Life-Changing Kitchen Hacks That'll Make You Enjoy Cooking Again.