Vintage mid-century cookbooks aren’t just full of comfort food classics like Grandma’s Apple Pie and Auntie Nora’s Beef Stew. They’re also full of disgusting dishes made with gelatin and mayonnaise. Seriously: find any American cookbook from 1940 to 1985. Check the index for “aspic,” “Jell-O,” “gelatin,” or “mayonnaise.” Things were out of control!
Vintage cookbooks and retro recipe cards are full of this objectively unappetizing stuff. Why? One explanation is that since gelatin required refrigeration, creating these dishes was a show of status: We have a refrigerator and you don’t. It’s an interesting theory, but it doesn’t change the fact that these flavor combinations are just plain gross: vanilla and salmon, mayonnaise and bananas, carrots and liver… and that’s before you add the Jell-O! Grab a barf bucket and read on to learn about some of the grossest recipes from vintage cookbooks.