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Popular Foods From The 1980’s

The 80's Blog Jun 08, 2014

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.

Popular 80s Foods

The 80s was a time for crazy fashion and far out music, but what about the foods of the era?

Here are our picks for the most popular foods of the 1980s:

1. Frozen Yogurt

penguins 80s
Frozen Yogurt Places Like “Penguin’s” Were Popular In The 1980s

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.

2. Wine Coolers

80s wine coolers
Bartles & Jaymes Introduced Their Famous Wine Coolers In 1985

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?

3. Sushi

molly ringwald sushi
Molly Ringwald Helped Popularize Sushi In The 80s When She Ate It For Lunch In “The Breakfast Club” (1985)

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.

Even though sushi is everywhere now, back in the 1980s it was still a relatively unknown food. However celebrities like Molly Ringwald help change that by featuring the food on TV and film.

The fad started in New York, and by the end of the decade it became common among the middle-class as well.

4. Jell-O Pudding Pops

bill cosby jello pudding pops
Bill Cosby Helped Popularize Jell-O Pudding Pops In The 1980s
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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.

Though Bill Cosby isn’t as marketable as he was these days in the 1980s, the man will always be associated with Jell-O Pudding Pops.

5. Ranch Dressing Dip

Shelf Stable Ranch First Hit Store Shelves In 1983

Though Ranch Dressing these days is one of the most popular condiments in the world, that wasn’t the case back in the 1980s. Even though the dressing was invented in the 1950s, there wasn’t a shelf stable non-refrigerated version until the 1980s.

In 1983 Hidden Valley Ranch was released as the first Ranch Dressing that did not have to be refrigerated on shelves, and that was basically a game changer.

6. Potato Skins

potato skins 80s
Potato Skins Rose To Popularity In The 1980s

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.

Potato Skins can be traced back to the 1970s, however they really started to gain steam in popularity when restaurant chains like T.G.I. Fridays started to serve them in the 1980s.

7. Tri-color pasta salad

tri-color-pasta
Bright Colors In The 80s Weren’t Just For Your Clothes, They Were For Your Pasta As Well

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.

The 1980s was all about bright colored fashion, and oddly enough, bright colored pasta was a thing too.

8. Blackened Cajun Anything

Chef Paul Prudhomme Magic Seasoning Blends
Blackened Cajun Seasoning Started To Become Popular In The 1980s

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.

For some reason blackened seafood really gained in popularity during the 1980s.

In the 1980s well known chefs like Paul Prudhomme introduced his “Magic Seasoning Blends” product line to the masses, and from then on blackening seafood was a thing.

9. New Coke

new coke 1985
New Coke Was Released To Poor Reviews In 1985

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.

So those are our picks for the most popular foods of the 1980s. Did yours make the cut?

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