When you think about the 1980s, often it’s all about fashion (neon and shoulder pads), music (Michael Jackson, Madonna, and new wave), and films (the John Hughes oeuvre). But quite a few of us do remember some signature food items from the 1980s. And like a few 80s items, some of these things can really take us back in time.
Who can forget about the absolutely delightful promise of fro-yo? It’s like ice cream, except that you can eat as much as you want because it’s fat-free. Of course, it turned out to be an illusion since the sugar content was off the charts, and the toppings made it worse. Still, for a moment in time there was a “health” food which actually tasted sinfully delicious.
This was a crazy combo of industrial white wine, carbonated water, and some weird flavor. In the 1980s, these flavors included berry, citrus, and apple. They were tasty, colorful, and cheap, which was perfect for the decade. Who cared about sophistication?
For those who actually cared about looking sophisticated, sushi was the “cool” food for the elite. That’s why the Molly Ringwald character in The Breakfast Club brought sushi to school for lunch. The fad started in New York, and by the end of the decade it became common among the middle-class as well.
Jell-O Pudding Pops
You had to trust Bill Cosby during the 1980s, because he was the perfect dad. And when he told us to buy these things because they were frozen pudding on a stick, we bought.
Ranch Dressing Dip
Doritos started a new craze when ranch dressing was used as a dip to enhance its taste. Soon ranch dressing was enhancing the taste of just about everything—chips, crackers, and even chicken wings.
Why throw away something you can market as a craze? Potato skins were either fried or baked, and then they were reinforced with tasty accessories such as chili con carne and sour cream.
Tri-color pasta salad
Pasta salad dishes were everywhere, and in some pot luck dinners maybe half the dishes were pasta salad. And in the 1980s, the more colorful they were the better they seemed to taste.
Blackened Cajun Anything
You add it to a fish dish or any type of seafood for that matter. Then you wash it down with wine cooler so that you were cool.
Just put it on everything.
This was popular in the sense that everyone knew about it. And also, everyone knew what a disaster it was. Coca Cola was so desperate to reclaim the top spot in the cola wars that it introduced a new formula for its beloved Coke. The “blind” taste tests confirmed that people liked the new sweeter taste better than the old one, but Coke forgot about the power of nostalgia and emotional connection to a beloved brand. But in a sense it was a success—the very thought that real Coke nearly disappeared caused a surge in sales that enabled Coca Cola to be #1 again.