1950s Party Foods

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The 1950s witnessed a new era in the home kitchen with "instant" this and "minute" that taking precedence over more time-honoured methods of stirring and sweating over a stove.

This was the age of convenience where foods such as the frozen dinner, processed cheese sauce, instant potatoes and canned foods of every variety began taking shelf space away from whole foods and fresh produce. When trotting this decade out for a theme party, make use of some of the cheesier trends of the day without apology

Snack Foods

Prior to the 1950s, snack foods weren't as prevalent in American homes, but, along with the increase of both cocktail parties and televisions, finger foods of all variety began appearing on serving trays. Common party snacks included devilled eggs, Vienna sausages, sautéed and stuffed mushrooms, fruit kebabs with bite-size pieces of canned pineapple and maraschino cherries, and bacon "wraparounds," which could be just about anything bite-size, such as shrimp, figs or apple, baked with a piece of bacon wrapped around it and served warm. The cheese ball was also a 1950s party hit, and by 1955 hosts wouldn't hesitate to serve bowls of party mix, a new snack favourite.

Main Dishes

A sit-down dinner party with a 1950s theme creates almost endless possibilities. Choices such as meat loaf, tuna casserole and glazed ham are obvious choices, but you can also go with single servings of chicken potpie or cook up duck a l'orange, beef stroganoff, chicken Divan and chicken a king. Steaks were common fare for dinner parties, and in 1951, Sears, Roebuck and Co. trotted out something new, a line of portable grills --- helping to create the boon in backyard barbecuing. Keep it '50s by enjoying thick cuts of beefsteaks, but you can modernise by leaving off the monosodium glutamate, recommended in a 1955 edition of "Good Housekeeping."


Break out the gelatin mould, serve it in wineglasses or clear bowls, and "float" pieces of fruit cocktail inside for the full 1950s effect. "A gelatin dessert is always a welcome treat," claims "Mom & Pop's Apple Pie 1950s Cookbook" by Barbara Stuart Peterson, which suggested serving such with "watercress and cream cheese balls" on the side. Other dessert ideas include angel food cake, melon ball cups, baked Alaska, ice cream with canned cherries or a liqueur, baked apples and a fresh pie.

Cocktails and Drinks

Of course, cocktail parties must feature cocktails, and drinks of this age did not focus on vintage wines or microbrews. Hard alcohol was the component of most cocktails with drinks such as highballs, Manhattans, old-fashioneds, whiskey sours and martinis highlighting the most-called for concoctions. Serve soda in glass bottles and fill a punchbowl with Tang for the teetotallers in the bunch. Brandy, cordials or liqueurs were often served with after-dinner coffee.