what are 80s style foods?
October 12, 2009 10:46 AM   Subscribe

what are 80s style foods?

I'm going to a conference next week in Las Vegas, the big sponsored party night features a performance by Huey Lewis and the News and promises 80s style foods -- what is that?
posted by askmehow to Food & Drink (80 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Pop Rocks?
posted by jozxyqk at 10:46 AM on October 12, 2009


Sushi
Cool Ranch Doritos
posted by The World Famous at 10:48 AM on October 12, 2009


Sushi was new and trendy back in the '80s.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:49 AM on October 12, 2009


Jolt cola.
posted by zombiebunny at 10:49 AM on October 12, 2009


mmmm, desert sushi. that reminds me of the quote from desperately seeking susan

paraphrasing what the cab driver says to susan: i don't know about that sushi. although i took some home one night, cooked it up and it tasted just like fish.
posted by askmehow at 10:50 AM on October 12, 2009


It's called "marketing gibberish"
posted by GuyZero at 10:50 AM on October 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


new coke and fruit rollups?
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:53 AM on October 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


My guess would be any ordinary party food decorated in some 80s-inspired way. Cake, for instance, with black and hot pink frosting or something like that.
posted by katillathehun at 10:54 AM on October 12, 2009


'80's cuisine? ...Strange. All I can think of is frozen yogurt, sushi, nachos, microwave popcorn (which replaced the foil "Jiffy Pop" shakers of the '70s) and Capri Sun juice pouches. Convenience was a marketed commodity of the era, so maybe corndogs and other individual-portioned foods/foods on sticks? I also recall pasta salads for some reason being a big deal in the 1980s.
posted by applemeat at 10:54 AM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


(Carcinogenic) red M&Ms
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 10:54 AM on October 12, 2009


Anything hotpocketesque
Anything with sundried-tomatoes
posted by 23skidoo at 10:55 AM on October 12, 2009


Tab
posted by one_bean at 10:56 AM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


If it's catered, salmon mousse on cucumber slices. blackened/jerk chicken or fish, sushi, baked brie with nuts/fruits, cold soups, monkey bread.
posted by xingcat at 10:56 AM on October 12, 2009


Steak'ums. Fruit Roll-Ups.
posted by adipocere at 10:58 AM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Tab is 70's.
posted by GuyZero at 10:59 AM on October 12, 2009


Salsa. Gyros. Pesto. Hummus. ..And Etc. The Gentrification of traditionally ethnic foods by American "yuppies" of the 1980's.
posted by applemeat at 11:00 AM on October 12, 2009


This question brings a smile to my face. My coworkers and I had this very same debate over e-mail last week (we'll be at the conference as well). My thought was definitely sushi (but the theme will almost certainly be bastardized to accommodate thousands of people's unique food needs/preferences).
posted by mmascolino at 11:04 AM on October 12, 2009


80s food is epitomized by The Silver Palate Cookbook.
posted by gyusan at 11:05 AM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Tuna Tataki
Nouvelle Cuisine
Baby anything ... carrots, potatoes, green beans
Pesto
The beginning of the cult of olive oil
posted by Allee Katze at 11:06 AM on October 12, 2009


Jell-o Jigglers!
posted by radioamy at 11:06 AM on October 12, 2009


Skittles.
posted by jrossi4r at 11:07 AM on October 12, 2009


80s food is epitomized by The Silver Palate Cookbook.

oooh, hopefully they will have the pork chops with mustard & black currant sauce - one of my all time favorites
posted by askmehow at 11:08 AM on October 12, 2009


hopefully they will have the pork chops with mustard & black currant sauce

... or the Chicken Marbella!
posted by gyusan at 11:10 AM on October 12, 2009


Microwaved nachos epitomize 80s food to me. Basically I think of it as the time when "convenience" meant using your microwave for everything but not to the point where those abysmal Snackers things were taking over everything and not at the HFCS point yet. So you'd have, for example, microwaveable milkshakes, which were frozen solid until you nuked them a little and then they were.... I have no idea, I never tried them.

So there's two questions: what did people eat in the 80s [I lived on Diet Coke and microwave nachos and microwave pizza and breakfast cereal] and what you will likely have at this thing: sushi.
posted by jessamyn at 11:13 AM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Haagen Daz
posted by jgirl at 11:15 AM on October 12, 2009


The 80s taste like Totinos Pizza Rolls, I'm pretty sure (and then for the next week the 80s taste like nothing, because you've burnt the everloving shit out of your mouth).

I also remember bagels being very hip, because they were from New York, and also somehow healthy.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:18 AM on October 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Kiwi fruit and/or raspberry vinegar.
posted by buxtonbluecat at 11:20 AM on October 12, 2009


Since the 80s were all about artifice ... I would suggest that if we're talking about real food and not just Pop Rocks and Jolt Cola ... that you'd see things that are all about presentation instead of size or anything terribly toothsome.

In other words, lots of sushi and canapés and super-stylized hors d'oeuvres.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:24 AM on October 12, 2009


Tall food with sprigs of rosemary sticking up out of the top.
posted by cestmoi15 at 11:24 AM on October 12, 2009


If they advertized 80's style foods, either their dessert cart is full of Pudding Pops or their marketing materials are full of cruel, cruel lies.
posted by roystgnr at 11:25 AM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I actually remember being in a mall-type kid focus group when Skittles came out. Lots of candies came out during the 80s.
posted by stormpooper at 11:29 AM on October 12, 2009


This may be off-base, but because I'm currently reading American Psycho, the first thing that would come to my mind when I heard the phrase "80s dishes" would be really tiny servings of really complicated, pretentious foods.
posted by scarykarrey at 11:30 AM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fondu and fusion cuisine?
posted by sunshinesky at 11:38 AM on October 12, 2009


Flavored popcorn, in such luridly inappropriate flavors as cinnamon and green apple.

Ronald Reagan's Jelly Bellys (jellybeans)

Bottled water (though it existed before) suddenly became trendy.
posted by bad grammar at 11:40 AM on October 12, 2009


Sunshinesky beat me to fondue, but that seems highly feasible given its finger-food-style and its ability to be
many things (appetizer, "main course" with meats, and dessert) . It would be easy to do with a large group, I would think.
posted by a.steele at 11:45 AM on October 12, 2009


Frozen yogurt in TCBY flavors (cheesecake, dutch chocolate). Bagel bites, lunchables, hot pockets, lean cuisine, chop suey, pizza with anchovies. Dr. Pepper, york peppermint patties, push pops, fun dip (!), ring pops, pop rocks, razzles, sweet tarts.

Drinks were sugary, frozen and sold to women who smelled like hairspray: fuzzy navels, sex on the beach, white russians, anything with schnapps, Kahlua. White zin. Wine coolers, long island ice tea.

why yes, I was a fat kid raised by an alcoholic single mom in the 80s.
posted by zoomorphic at 11:51 AM on October 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


Green bean casserole with Campbell's cream of mushroom soup and whatever those fried onions-in-a-can were!
posted by amtho at 11:51 AM on October 12, 2009


Here's a previous question on the same subject. My own answer there was:
What kind of party?

Brunch: Oat bran muffins. Hazelnut coffee. Quiche.

A Yuppie dinner: for hors d'ouevres, skewered tortellini, snowpeas stuffed with smoked-salmon cream cheese, mini-quiches. Blackened chicken or fish. Arugula with raspberry vinaigrette. Anything with sun-dried tomatoes. For dessert, tiramisu.

On the plus side, these are all delicious, but I remember being heartily sick of seeing them every month in the cooking magazines of the 1980s.
posted by Elsa at 11:54 AM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Surely sundried tomatoes? Or was that 90s?
posted by like_neon at 11:56 AM on October 12, 2009


I garontee cajun food surfaced on a national level 'round about that time, no?
posted by Allee Katze at 12:05 PM on October 12, 2009


Since the 80s were all about artifice ... I would suggest that if we're talking about real food and not just Pop Rocks and Jolt Cola ... that you'd see things that are all about presentation instead of size or anything terribly toothsome.

But they weren't talking about real food. They were talking about 80's food.:)
posted by spirit72 at 12:05 PM on October 12, 2009


A Sizzler salad bar?
posted by Thorzdad at 12:06 PM on October 12, 2009


Quiche. Fettuccine alfredo. Sushi. Chinese chicken salad. Pasta salad. Blackened redfish. Croissants. And yes, Haagen-Dazs and Mrs Field's cookies for dessert.
posted by chez shoes at 12:08 PM on October 12, 2009


Zima
Bartles & James
posted by Allee Katze at 12:17 PM on October 12, 2009


The rise of cilantro, goat cheese, and fresh pasta. Fajitas. Boboli. Tato Skins chips. Hazelnut coffee. Flavored creamer. Croissants and that crime against nature, the Croissandwich. Salad bars. Bran muffins. Everything had oat bran in it for a few years there. Reduced fat or low-fat everything (after the high-protein 70s).
posted by jocelmeow at 12:20 PM on October 12, 2009


In the movie Wall Street, when Charlie Sheen and Daryl Hannah have their big "we made it" dinner montage in Charlie Sheen's new apartment, they make sushi. It's also hilarious because they use some sort of sushi machine to make it that I've never seen outside of that move. Picture a pasta machine (the full auto style that you put eggs and flour and water and salt in, not the metal rollers you clamp to your table). Except you fill it with rice and crank it and little sushi-shaped wads of mushed-up rice come out. Why would anyone use this machine? I don't know, but that must be an 80s food thing.

Also in Wall Street, when Charlie Sheen goes to meet Michael Douglas at 21, he orders an Evian, and he pronounces it with a French accent, all squeezing the 'n' out through his nose.

In The Breakfast Club, when the kids eat lunch, most of them have Wonder Bread-type sandwiches, but Molly Ringwald has sushi. Bender doesn't know what it is, so she has to explain it to him, and he thinks its nasty. Who brings sushi to detention?

Seeing as how Wall Street and The Breakfast Club are the alpha and omega of the 80s in the US, I'm going with sushi and Evian.
posted by jeb at 12:21 PM on October 12, 2009


Wow. As someone who was born in the 80s, lived in the 90s, and discovered food in the Naughties, this list is amazing. Seriously, sushi and sun-dried tomatoes have any sort of stigma? Arugula? Pesto? Blackened things? These things are absolute stapes of my diet. To think that they ever weren't is... well, crazy.

I admit, I also like chipotle flavor and wasabi, and cook with them when the need arises.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 12:24 PM on October 12, 2009


scarykarrey: This may be off-base, but because I'm currently reading American Psycho, the first thing that would come to my mind when I heard the phrase "80s dishes" would be really tiny servings of really complicated, pretentious foods.

This totally came to mind for me as well :)

Is there anything more 80's, though, than the sun dried tomato? Packets of NutraSweet, maybe?
posted by mkultra at 12:28 PM on October 12, 2009


Perhaps I'm wrong, but applemeat's evoking of both "gentrification" and "yuppies" to describe 80's food comes across as derogatory, which just seems wrong to me. I think the 80's brought the blooming of the american culinary landscape and

Dining out went from being a special occasion to an everyday necessity as more women joined the workforce. Supermarkets started carrying a more diverse range of ingredients. Garlic went from being something that came as two small heads in precious cellophane wrapped box to something bought by the pound. Declining air-frieght costs made it practical to bring in fresh fruit and vegetables from a hemisphere away and sell them in the supermarket. Similarly, the quality of fish available inland improved dramatically. Thai and Vietnamese immigrants added their cuisines to the national menu. Packaged food companies also started realizing that one variety did not fit all, and started offering more varieties of everything from pasta sauce to tortilla chips.

As to specific foods that say 80's to me: Frozen yoghurt, pasta salad, croissants, tomato salsa (earlier) fruit salsa (later), blackened redfish, cajun *, vietnamese and thai food, "new mexico cuisine."
posted by Good Brain at 12:30 PM on October 12, 2009


Ah yes, agree on pesto, quiche, sun dried tomatoes, fajitas and fresh pasta.
posted by Good Brain at 12:32 PM on October 12, 2009


Oh, and how could I forget stuffed potato skins? In Los Angeles in the 1980s there were a number of establishment selling potato skins. Usually offered in portions of "Two skins? Or four?"

No, I am not making this up! Proof and more 1980s foods here.
posted by chez shoes at 12:33 PM on October 12, 2009


Smartfood cheese-flavored popcorn. Angel hair pasta! Pure frustration in a pasta shape. Impossible not to overcook, impossible to dress evenly.
posted by jocelmeow at 12:44 PM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Crunchy on the outside. Chewy in the center."
posted by furiousthought at 12:49 PM on October 12, 2009


nthing Quiche - there was even a quiche/yuppie backlash against it ala Real Men Don't Eat Quiche...
posted by rosebengal at 1:01 PM on October 12, 2009


Oooh! Oooooh! Rice cakes! Maybe with peanut butter!
posted by amtho at 1:06 PM on October 12, 2009


Anything with Cheez-Whiz on it.

Mmmmmm.....
posted by elder18 at 1:21 PM on October 12, 2009


Frusen Glädjé

Fruit-flavoured Neufchatel cheese

Stir-fried anything

General Tso's chicken

This amazing new thing called Thai food

This amazing new thing called Ethiopian food

The amazing new thing called sushi- but only California rolls

Frozen yogurt that is NOT the Pinkberry (etc) Korean style- think TCBY.

Nachos
posted by ethnomethodologist at 1:25 PM on October 12, 2009


As someone who spent time as a restaurant hostess in the early 80's and a SWF urban professional in the late 80's...yes, quiche for sure. Silver Palette Cookbook for the win! Sushi. Tall food (stacking food in fine dining restaurants was totally "in".) I remember drinking my first glass of white zinfandel in 1987. Early 80's? Chi Chi's restaurants for the suburbanites.

The 70's were the Recession, and food was cheap, cheap, cheap. (Generic label foods--with the black and white label--were the BIG thing in the 70's. Crazy casseroles. Cutting coupons. You get the picture.) Then, the 80's happened. Wall Street. Miami Vice. Serious clubbing. Yuppies. Food started getting crazy again. It was over the top compared to the 70's.
posted by jeanmari at 1:26 PM on October 12, 2009


In the movie Wall Street, when Charlie Sheen and Daryl Hannah have their big "we made it" dinner montage in Charlie Sheen's new apartment, they make sushi. It's also hilarious because they use some sort of sushi machine to make it that I've never seen outside of that move. ... Why would anyone use this machine?

/derail

While teaching my son table manners, getting rice on a fork proved to be difficult. I turned to the wife.

"Dammit. I wish I had that machine from Wall Street to make little rice balls."

She handed me a #20 disher.

"You mean like this?"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:30 PM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Behold! 70's beer and then 80's beer (in my house, anyway.) It was like that crazy transition from the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy isn't in Kansas anymore. Seriously.
posted by jeanmari at 1:34 PM on October 12, 2009


New ones just keep occurring to me: granola bars, especially Quaker Chewy Granola Bars. Then chocolate-covered granola bars, like Kudos. Somehow these were still regarded as health food. In beverages, Clearly Canadian and Crystal Light.
posted by jocelmeow at 1:53 PM on October 12, 2009


New York Seltzer
posted by The World Famous at 1:55 PM on October 12, 2009


Is New York Selzer still around?
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 1:58 PM on October 12, 2009


dag nab it, that's what I get for not previewing!
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 1:59 PM on October 12, 2009


Szechuan and Hunan Chinese (in the US, at least). Didn't microbrews take off in the 80's?
posted by gamera at 2:08 PM on October 12, 2009


Sorry but fondue is very late '60's, not '80's, kids. It became popular when all things Scandinavian did, so picture sweaters with trees on them, ski pants (with stirrups) worn around the house and town, etc. Stuff your parents were into.


For 1980's, definitely pretentious mini-servings of odd food combinations, things built into towers on plates, Tex-Mex, and quiche for sure. I learned a lot of ways to make quiche. And sushi lives on, thank the dear Lord!
posted by Lynsey at 2:26 PM on October 12, 2009


Oh yeah, that light beer image above reminds me.... In southern California, anyway, in the early '80's, generic everything took off. You could buy "lite beer", "vodka", "paper towels" , you name it, all with generic, eponymous labels.
posted by Lynsey at 2:28 PM on October 12, 2009


If you were in school, Capri Sun and Bubble Tape.
posted by like_neon at 2:44 PM on October 12, 2009


Raspberry juice. And strange cakes for kids' birthday parties, like a cake decorated to look like a pool with gummi bears swimming in it using life savers for rings or a brown cake with cookie crumb icing topped with gummi worms (yeech.) The rise of black icing.
posted by x46 at 3:18 PM on October 12, 2009


Zima was 1990s.
posted by infodiva at 3:50 PM on October 12, 2009


Yeah, agreeing with Lynsey. Fondue is late 60's, early 70's.

Dove Ice Cream bars were 'introduced nationally in 1984'.
posted by marsha56 at 4:05 PM on October 12, 2009


Ecto Cooler.
posted by Wild_Eep at 4:10 PM on October 12, 2009


Ranch dressing. Let it go, people!
posted by Askr at 4:24 PM on October 12, 2009


Green beans, cream of mushroom soup and onion crispies? Way before 1980. Way way before.
posted by leafwoman at 4:56 PM on October 12, 2009


I just ctrl-f'ed "capers" and was shocked by the null result.

My answer: CAPERS.
posted by palliser at 5:32 PM on October 12, 2009


There has to be a swan centerpiece carved out of ice.
posted by limeswirltart at 6:39 PM on October 12, 2009


Perrier! The benzene scare was in 1990... Also, Chipwich became an international sensation in 1981.
posted by kmennie at 6:55 PM on October 12, 2009


Since I was a kid in the 80s, I mostly remember things like Kool Aid, Jell-O, sugary cereals marketed for kids, and gummy candies like Sour Patch Kids. I collect old cookbooks, and I do have a lot from the 80s that my Mom sent away for (premiums). The gentrification/yuppification of ethnic foods (especially Asian and Mexican cuisine) is really true. Those cuisines may have been rising in popularity over the previous decade, but their popularity continued to rise into the 80s. The pictures in the cookbooks show them all as tiny finger foods arranged in various bold geometric settings on bright plastic plates.

At least in my house convenience foods like Manwich, Hamburger Helper, and anything Bisquick (the Impossible pies!) were very big. That's not to say that they didn't exist before the 1980s, but that the ease and availability of convenience food was very alluring for many families.

Plus, I think of the 80s as being the end of the big, memorable advertising campaigns. Watching Mikey for Life cereal, the 'Where's The Beef?' lady for Wendy's, 'Avoid The Noid!', and feeling bad for the 'Time To Make The Donuts' guy was just as much a memorable part of the tv experience as Alf trying to eat the Tanner's cat. We sure don't have artistry like that anymore..
posted by Mael Oui at 10:56 PM on October 12, 2009


Cookies and Cream Ice cream. ET made Reese's Pieces popular (in the novelization they were M&M's).
posted by brujita at 11:09 PM on October 12, 2009


Oh my gosh. All this time, I have been eating Thai, Vietnamese, Sushi, and Ethiopian food because I thought it tasted good. Turns out, as always, I am simply following trends 10 years after they started.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:35 AM on October 13, 2009


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