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15 Retro Summer Foods No One Eats Anymore

We think these classics deserve a comeback.

If you grew up in the '70s or '80s, your idea of a refreshing summer food might be very different than what people are enjoying now. But that doesn't mean those vintage recipes and retro summer foods should be forgotten! These classic meals and snacks are timeless for a reason, and we say you should bring them back this summer.

From Jello molds to Fluffernutter sandwiches, sometimes a throwback comfort food is just what you need. So make quarantine a little more fun and whip up one of these throwback treats! And if you love cooking, sign up for our newsletter to get daily recipes and food news in your inbox!

1

Root beer floats

root beer float on table
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Sure, you might not be enjoying this at a diner, but that doesn't make root beer floats any less tasty. And if you don't like root beer, Coke floats are just as classic.

RELATED: Your ultimate restaurant and supermarket survival guide is here!

2

Jello molds

five red green and white jello molds on a serving plate
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Do you have mini bundt pans or popsicle molds at home? Why not use them to make some colorful Jello treats? The gelatin dessert isn't as popular as it was in its heyday, but that doesn't mean it's any less delicious.

Not sure where to start? We love this recipe from Cupcakes and Kale Chips.

3

Corn pudding

corn pudding
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Corn on the cob is a classic fixture at summer cookouts. But when's the last time you had corn pudding? This vintage dish deserves more love—try making it for yourself with this recipe.

4

Ambrosia salad

ambrosia salad
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OK, OK, something that contains marshmallows probably shouldn't be called a salad. Still, this fruit cocktail, once a fixture on dinner tables, is a fun and easy way to liven up your summer meals.

Want to try it for yourself? We love this ambrosia recipe from The Seasoned Mom.

5

Chicken cordon bleu

chicken cordon bleu
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These days, it's common to see chicken on the dinner table in countless recipes. But chicken cordon bleu isn't often one of them. The retro recipe involves covering chicken breasts in ham, cheese, and a cream sauce, so it makes sense that it's fallen out of fashion. If you're looking for a once-in-a-while treat, though, this dish will bring all the nostalgia.

We love this chicken cordon bleu recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything.

6

Pineapple upside-down cake

pineapple upside down cake with slice
Lesya Dolyuk/Shutterstock

Apple pie is a classic fixture on the summer cookout dessert table. Pineapple upside-down cake, not so much. But pineapples are so juicy and delicious, why not give this vintage dessert some love?

We love this pineapple upside-down cake recipe from Averie Cooks.

7

Berry compote

berry compote with spoon on top of bowl
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Yes, you can have a fruit compote that doesn't come from a can or a jar! Homemade berry compote is delicious on top of a scoop of ice cream, warm pancakes, or baked into a summer pie.

Try this berry compote recipe from Minimalist Baker.

8

Fluffernutter sandwiches

Fluffernutter sandwich
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No, these weren't exactly a balanced meal, but they were one you always wanted to see in your lunchbox. Combine peanut butter and marshmallow cream for a retro sandwich that will almost make you miss the days of school. Almost.

9

Creamed chipped beef

creamed chipped beef
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If you're bored of the same old beef recipes, give this vintage option a try. It was originally a budget-friendly meal for the military, but it still brings back that nostalgic feel.

Want to make creamed chipped beef at home? We love this recipe from Julia's Simply Southern.

10

Tuna noodle casserole

tuna noodle casserole
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These days, you're more likely to find canned tuna in a sandwich melt. But something is comforting about the combination of egg noodles, peas, and canned tuna.

Want to try this retro dish? Try this recipe from The Cozy Cook.

11

Tapioca pudding

Tapioca pudding
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Tapioca and rice pudding are past their heyday, but that doesn't make them any less delicious. If you love bubble tea, why not try tapioca in another sweet treat? We love this vanilla-honey tapioca pudding recipe from Foraged Dish.

12

Sloppy Joes

sloppy joe
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If you have fond childhood memories of eating a messy Sloppy Joe in the backyard on a lazy summer day, you're not alone. Our healthy Sloppy Joe recipe will give you all the nostalgia you need.

13

Chicken pot pie

Low-calorie chicken pot pie
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Summer is the season of apple pie, but why not make it the season of savory pie, too? Chicken pot pie is one of the best comfort foods around. Our healthier take on the classic is just as good as grandma's, we promise.

14

Cornbread

cornbread in basket wrapped in cloth
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Another delicious way to use corn, cornbread doesn't get enough love. But a square of cornbread alongside a plate of summer barbecue? Now that's perfection.

We like this cornbread recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction.

15

Potatoes au gratin

Potatoes au gratin
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They may not be as popular anymore, but potatoes au gratin are the perfect unexpected side dish for a fresh-off-the-grill burger. We love this recipe from Recipe Tin Eats.

And for more ways to up your cooking game, don't miss these 52 Life-Changing Kitchen Hacks That'll Make You Enjoy Cooking Again.

Meghan De Maria
Meghan De Maria is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food, product, and restaurant coverage. Read more
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