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9 Worst Classic Holiday Desserts No One Makes Anymore—and for Good Reason

Some seasonal treats can’t keep up with the times.
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As the holidays get closer, bakers everywhere have begun dusting off their seasonal cookbooks and whipping out their favorite winter dessert recipes. Standard go-to's like gingerbread cookies, yule logs, peppermint bark, and others may be gracing tables everywhere right now—but that doesn't mean these items are untouchable. Classic holiday desserts come and go, and many just can't keep up with modern tastes.

While everyone has their favorite seasonal dessert, just as many people have gagged at outdated holiday confections that they had to eat at potlucks or family gatherings. Other holiday desserts that started out as fads still taste great, but as is the case with many trendy foods, they began to slowly disappear once their hype died down. For every timeless holiday confection out there, another seasonal dessert fell by the wayside.

Eat This, Not That! rounded up nine classic desserts that just don't see the same amount of love as they used to. These cakes, pies, cookies, and treats all once defined the holidays, but now just can't compete with the popularity of modern seasonal standards.

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christmas fruit cake

The classic fruitcake epitomizes the ultimate holiday dessert that no one wants to make anymore. This seasonal treat consists of a sweet bread loaded with dried fruit, spices, and nuts, which then gets soaked in alcohol. While this iconic holiday dessert once found a place on tables across the country, it just can't keep up with the modern palate. A 2021 Mashed poll found that this seasonal classic ranked as the least popular holiday dessert out there—43% of respondents claimed they hoped to never see this item at any gathering again for the rest of their lives.

Panettone bread

panettone with dried fruits and orange zest

When you think of your favorite holiday dessert, the treat probably tastes pretty sweet and features enough green and red to remind you of the holidays. Some iconic seasonal desserts just can't live up to that image, especially baked goods that trace their origin back to the days when sugar and food coloring was less prevalent.

For some, you just can't celebrate the holidays without panettone, a sweet Milanese bread that comes filled with raisins, citrus, almonds, and more. While the bread once made it truly feel like the holidays, many now argue whether this dessert even qualifies as a dessert. Woman's Day even ranked it as one of the worst Christmas foods around back in 2016. While some households still undoubtedly serve up this classic confection, panettone has truly fallen on some hard times.

Anise cookies

anise flavored italian cookies

As the temperatures start to drop, folks everywhere have started planning their annual seasonal cookie swaps. Chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies shaped like snowflakes, and gingerbread cookies continue to make the holidays feel right, but other cookies just can't compete. Some holiday cookies that originally helped define the season fell out of favor, but few truly lost their status like anise cookies. A YouGov poll from 2020 found that anise cookies ranked as the least popular holiday cookie out there. The treat's falling popularity means that you shouldn't expect to see too many of these types of treats getting passed out during the next cookie swap.

You could try to tweak the recipe for anise cookies a bit to keep up with the times, or you could break out one of the 15 Best Holiday Cookie Recipes if you need to impress family and friends with your baking prowess.

Christmas pudding

christmas pudding

Few seasonal treats strike up images of the holidays like Christmas pudding. This dessert, also known as plum pudding, helped define the Dickens' classic Christmas Carol and originally ranked among the most beloved holiday treats. This English confection features some ingredients you wouldn't expect to find in a modern dessert, like suet or breadcrumbs. History found that the roots of the dessert stem from the 15th century and once resembled something closer to haggis. With archaic ingredients like animal fat still baked into the concoction, the classic Christmas pudding just can't keep up with modern baking trends and only a determined few continue to keep this tradition alive.

While you might have a hard time finding this traditional offering, it still ranks as one of the 24 Best Vintage Christmas Dinner Recipes.

Rice pudding

rice pudding

You might not traditionally associate rice pudding and the holidays together, but in the South, this dessert and time of year go hand-in-hand. While rice puddings come in a variety of forms, Southern rice puddings feature raisins and citrus to give the dish some seasonal charm. The sweet staple once found its way into homes across the country, but Southern Living notes that few families continue to keep this culinary tradition alive.

Jell-O salad

hello salad with lemon jello, pineapple, banana, mini marshmallows, whipped cream, and cheddar cheese

Nothing strikes up images of holiday desserts of yesteryear like Jell-O salad. This concoction of green Jell-O, pineapple, and cottage cheese once defined holiday luxury but now repulses most folks who have the misfortune of coming across it. This dessert that once defined the holidays now makes people wretch when they see it brought before them. When one Reddit user posted about how they made their mother's take on Christmas Jell-O salad, it incited a flurry of comments featuring unflattering flashbacks to their cringiest Jell-O salad experiences.

White fruitcake

christmas fruitcake with sugar icing and candied fruits

Many remember classic fruitcake as one of their least favorite seasonal desserts, but few have even heard of a white fruitcake. While a regular fruitcake gets its dark color from brown sugar or molasses, a white fruitcake uses confectioner sugar thus is much paler in comparison.

The word's still out on why regular fruitcake gets way more attention, but that hasn't stopped some bakers across the internet from playing with classic white fruitcake recipes. When Reddit user Doctor_Oceanblue made a version of this dish with pecans, dried apricots, and golden raisins and shared it in the r/Old_Recipes subreddit, it was met with praise by other Redditors in the comment section. While this iconic baked good makes perfect sense to serve up during the holidays, it has somehow fallen to the wayside.

Forgotten cookies

forgotten kisses meringue cookies

Forgotten cookies truly live up to their name in this case. Defined by there simplicity to prepare—as bakers can literally "forget" them overnight after turning the oven off, allowing them to continue to cook as the oven cools—these once iconic meringue-cookie hybrids used to be a signature flavor of the winter holidays. When Reddit user amberh2l shared their recipe for forgotten cookies on the Old_Recipes Reddit board, it made waves with other users reminiscing in response. When another thread posted by user grayson_greyman featured an older lamented copy of a recipe for forgotten cookies, Redditors chimed in with clarifications around the directions for the antiquated recipes.

"Forgetting to take them out is part of the fun, wish they'd explained that better in the recipe! What you're supposed to do is preheat oven, mix it all together, drop them onto cookie sheets. Put cookies/meringues in oven & CUT THE OVEN OFF. Then 'forget' them until the oven is completely cool/the next morning. That's why they are 'forgotten cookies!'" Reddit user smelly_leaf explained.

Grasshopper pie

grasshopper pie

Few vintage holiday classics look quite as festive as grasshopper pie. This mint chocolate pie has a green tint thanks to a few drops of green food coloring, and once was considered a great pie for the holidays. One Redditor showed off their take on this classic, causing other users to remember how this pie used to make appearances at their own holiday celebrations growing up. Others in another thread remembered this retro treat making appearances over the course of the year, but definitely agreed that they had hard times coming across some of the vintage liqueurs like creme de menthe on a regular basis. Either way, folks used to love this pie during the holidays, and it looks like it just doesn't see the same kind of love it used to.

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Erich Barganier
Erich Barganier is a health and food writer. Read more about Erich
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