The 50s, 60s, and 70s had their fair share of strange recipes, especially among desserts. May of these recipes employed Jello and gelatin molds, and canned fruit, and odd combinations of mayonnaise and nuts and cheeses. And while some of these recipes may look like desserts, don’t be fooled, they were often meant to be served as appetizers or salads, such as the Bologna Cake below.
1. Bologna Cake
While not technically a cake, this savory appetizer will certainly be the talk of the pot luck. Served with crackers, it’s a tower of bologna glued together and enrobed in cream cheese, then topped with squeeze cheese. While there doesn’t seem to be a lot of information about its history on the internet, from what I could gather it is a southern thing from the middle of last century.
This recipe is pretty straightforward: you take your slices of bologna and start stacking, between each layer slathering a glue of cream cheese/Ranch dressing powder mixture. When your stack is complete you simply frost as you would a cake, then use Cheez Whiz to decorate. If you’re feeling extra fancy you can garnish with some green olives and parsley.
To make your life easier when frosting your “cake” it’s a good idea to cut out a piece of cardboard, wrap it in foil, then put your bologna tower on a turntable. Also, when you’re glueing your bologna layers, I found that it was vital to wipe each bologna slice dry, otherwise you’ll find that you’ll get slippage — and potential disaster!
Happy Bologna Cake making!
2. Savory Lime-Cheese Jello
What were they thinking way back in 1954? Sure, there are a lot of atrocious-looking dishes from that time period, but just because something looks terrible doesn’t mean that it tastes terrible too, right?
I had always wanted to make a little retro jello mold and this one looked particularly disgusting, so I decided to make it. With its green sheen and wiggle, it would be the perfect dish to take to an ugly sweater Christmas party.
In addition to the Jello, this recipe calls for onions, vinegar, and cheese. If you’re interested in seeing my reaction to eating this green beauty, you can watch below:
3. Liver Sausage Pineapple
Another odd retro recipe, one of those hideously delightful mash-ups which aims to at least visually mimic another food, the liver sausage pineapple has no actual pineapple in the recipe, unless you count the inedible top.
When I saw this “pineapple” in my mother-in-law’s old Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book on the first page of the appetizer section, I knew immediately that I had to make it. And because seemingly every dish back in the day utilized gelatin, this recipe was no exception. I must say, however, that the “frosting” that was on the outside, the skin of the pineapple, came to a very strange texture, so if you end up making this recipe you might just skip the gelatin and use a simple mixture of mayonnaise and turmeric.
The “guts” of the pineapple, the “fruit” will be made from liver sausage. I just used liverwurst, also known as braunschweiger, removing them from their casings and mixing with lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. Once your mixture comes together you’re going to mold it over a jelly jar into a shape approximating a half pineapple.
After that you just need to “frost” your “pineapple.” (So weird!) You can follow along with me making this chilled meat appetizer in the video below.
4. Banana Candle
For this extremely odd “recipe” there’s no cooking required — just arrange a few garnishes around a dripping banana and you’ve got a dish worth celebrating.
So this recipe comes from a cookbook from 1970 called “Be Bold with Bananas.” I couldn’t find an exact recipe, but from what I gathered from different blogs on the internet, the steps to put it together seemed pretty straightforward.
All you’ll need is a banana — the straighter the better — a pineapple ring, some maraschino cherries, a little bit of mayo, and some lettuce for garnish.
The easiest way to achieve structural integrity for this dish would be to use a candlestick holder, but I didn’t have one so I used a plate and a little tea mug to hold the banana, after which I lined my “candlestick” with some lettuce leaves placing the pineapple ring in the center.
For “candle wax” you’ll be using mayo to which you’ll add a little bit of water and a couple drops of maraschino cherry juice for color. You just drip the mayo over the banana to get the affect of dripping candle wax.
Finally, for the flame, you’ll top the whole thing with one of your maraschino cherries. You can follow along with me below:
5. 7-Up Mayonnaise Jello Salad
This recipe is for a “salad” — not THAT kind of salad with lots of greens — though it is green. To make this recipe you’re going to need a jello mold, 7-Up, and mini marshmallows. The recipe also calls for Cool Whip, mayonnaise, cream cheese, crushed pineapple, lime jello, and maraschino cherries. Yum!
Essentially, you’re going to heat the mini marshmallows and 7-Up, bringing it to a boil until the marshmallows are completely dissolved, after which you’re going to add one small packet of lime Jello.
After that you’re going to add your cream cheese all the while stirring until you’ve reached this ectoplasmic ooze color with all of the cream cheese melted. Add your crushed pineapple and maraschino cherries and you’re on you’re almost there!
You just need to combine your Cool Whip and mayonnaise before adding the green Jello mixture which then all gets poured into your mold.
Finally, place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least six hours. You can follow along with me here:
6. Rainbow Sherbet Snowball Cake
All right, finally we come to a recipe that actually sounds tasty — balls of sherbet surrounded by ice cream in the form of a cake. What’s not to like?
I found this recipe, like the Liver Sausage Pineapple, in my mother-in-law’s Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. Now sherbet was my all-time favorite frozen dessert thing ever when I was a kid, with ice cream being a close second, so making and eating this “cake” certainly did bring out my inner kid.
To make the sherbet balls that will nestle inside the ice cream, just take a small ice cream scoop dipped in warm water, scoop them out of the container and shape them into balls. Place your balls onto a cookie sheet which should immediately go into the freezer. You’re going to want these to set for a few hours, so plan ahead.
Then you’ll take three quarts of vanilla ice cream and with a stand mixer beat your ice cream on low until it has a nice whipped consistency. Now taking a chilled tube pan (and working quickly) you want to place a ring of your rainbow sherbet around the bottom of the pan. Next you’re going to surround the sherbet balls with your whipped vanilla ice cream being careful not to disturb them. I used a butter knife to remove any air pockets and to smooth the whipped ice cream out. Then I added another layer topped with a double ring of sherbet balls, filling in all the gaps with more vanilla ice cream.
After smoothing everything off so it looks like a frosted cake, you’ll cover the whole thing with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for at least 12 hours. You can watch me making and tasting this delicious dessert here:
7. Beef Fudge
So, this is a recipe I saw a long time ago on the Mid-Century Menu Blog. It comes from the Poll-Ette Hostess cook book circa 1967, and it was written by Mrs. Florence E. Weist of Montana. The cookbook itself is very beef-centric, apparently written by wives of ranchers, specifically Polled Hereford cow ranchers.
So, very interesting — you’ve got a lot of beef, why not put it in your dessert!
So as soon as we had some leftover roast beef I decided to make this beef fudge. The recipe is no different than any traditional fudge recipe aside from the addition of the beef which you’re going to want to grind up in a food processor. Before processing though trim off any excess fat or hardened edges.
To make the fudge you’re going to boil butter, milk, and sugar for about five minutes until it reaches the softball stage.
To that you’re going to add chocolate chips, marshmallow fluff, and vanilla (and walnuts if you wish.) All that’s left to do now is to grease an 8 by 8 pan, pour in your mixture, and wait for it to cool. You can watch me making and tasting this unique fudge here:
OK, lovelies, that’s it! I’ve got lots of other retro recipes on my YouTube channel. You can access the playlist here. Happy making!