Dining Down Memory Lane: Popular Foods by Decade

Food Through The Decades | Health and Wellness

Exploring the evolution of food trends by decade, this article provides a nostalgic journey from the 1950s to the 2000s. With each era marked by unique culinary tastes, it highlights the rise of convenience foods, international cuisine, health foods, fast food, fusion cuisine, and superfoods, respectively. The landmark dishes of each decade are represented with accompanying recipes.

Dining Down Memory Lane: Popular Foods by Decade

Food is not just a source of sustenance, it is also a reflection of the times. As society and culture evolve, so do our tastes and preferences when it comes to food. From the classic dishes of the 1950s to the trendy foods of the 2010s, each decade has its own unique food trends and popular recipes. In this article, we’ll take a trip down memory lane and explore the popular foods of each decade. Without further ado, lets grab our forks and dive into food trends by decade.

The 1950s: The Rise of Convenience Foods

The 1950s marked the beginning of the food revolution in America. With the rise of convenience foods, cooking became easier and faster than ever before. Canned goods, frozen dinners, and TV dinners were all the rage, making meal preparation a breeze for busy families. Popular dishes of the decade included casseroles, meatloaf, and Jell-O salads.

a baked bowl of tuna noodle cassserole

Iconic Recipe: Tuna Noodle Casserole


  • 1 can of condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • 1 can of tuna, drained
  • 2 cups of cooked egg noodles
  • 1/2 cup of crushed potato chips


  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the cream of mushroom soup and milk.
  3. Add in the frozen peas, tuna, and cooked egg noodles. Stir until well combined.
  4. Pour the mixture into a greased 9×13 inch baking dish.
  5. Top with crushed potato chips.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the casserole is heated through and the potato chips are golden brown.

The 1960s: The Rise of International Cuisine

The 1960s saw a rise in international cuisine, with dishes from around the world becoming popular in American households. Italian food, in particular, gained popularity, with dishes like spaghetti and meatballs and lasagna becoming staples. The decade also saw the rise of fondue parties, where guests would dip various foods into a communal pot of melted cheese or chocolate.

beef bourguignon with carrots

Iconic Recipe: Beef Bourguignon


  • 2 pounds of beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • 2 cups of beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound of mushrooms, quartered
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. In a large bowl, toss the beef cubes with the flour until well coated.
  3. In a Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat.
  4. Add in the bacon and cook until crispy.
  5. Remove the bacon and set aside.
  6. In the same pot, add in the beef cubes and cook until browned on all sides.
  7. Remove the beef and set aside.
  8. In the same pot, add in the onion and garlic. Cook until softened.
  9. Add in the red wine and scrape the bottom of the pot to release any browned bits.
  10. Add in the beef broth, tomato paste, thyme, and bay leaf. Stir until well combined.
  11. Return the beef and bacon to the pot.
  12. Cover and bake for 2 hours.
  13. Add in the mushrooms and bake for an additional 30 minutes.
  14. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The 1970s: The Rise of Health Food

The 1970s saw a shift towards healthier eating, with an emphasis on natural and organic foods. Vegetarianism and veganism also gained popularity during this decade. Popular dishes included quiche, granola, and tofu stir-fry.

tofu stir fry with onions and chow mein

Iconic Recipe: Tofu Stir-Fry


  • 1 block of firm tofu, drained and cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup of broccoli florets
  • 1 cup of sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup of snow peas
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce and cornstarch.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
  3. Add in the tofu and cook until browned on all sides.
  4. Remove the tofu and set aside.
  5. In the same skillet, add in the onion and garlic. Cook until softened.
  6. Add in the red bell pepper, broccoli, mushrooms, and snow peas. Cook until tender.
  7. Add in the vegetable broth and soy sauce mixture. Stir until well combined.
  8. Return the tofu to the skillet and cook until heated through.
  9. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The 1980s: The Rise of Fast Food

The 1980s saw a rise in fast food and convenience foods, with the introduction of popular chains like McDonald’s and Pizza Hut. The decade also saw a rise in processed and packaged foods, with microwaves becoming a staple in American households. Popular dishes included pizza, burgers, and macaroni and cheese.

two people making homemade pizza

Iconic Recipe: Homemade Pizza


  • 1 store-bought pizza dough
  • 1/2 cup of pizza sauce
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup of sliced pepperoni
  • 1/4 cup of sliced black olives
  • 1/4 cup of sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup of chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup of chopped onion


  1. Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C).
  2. Roll out the pizza dough on a floured surface.
  3. Transfer the dough to a greased pizza pan.
  4. Spread the pizza sauce over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges.
  5. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the sauce.
  6. Top with pepperoni, black olives, mushrooms, green bell pepper, and onion.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted.

The 1990s: The Rise of Fusion Cuisine

The 1990s saw a rise in fusion cuisine, with chefs combining different culinary traditions to create unique and innovative dishes. The decade also saw a rise in gourmet and upscale dining, with a focus on presentation and high-quality ingredients. Popular dishes included sushi, Thai curry, and gourmet burgers.

cheeburger with lettuce, tomoato, onion, french fries, and ketchup

Iconic Recipe: Gourmet Burger


  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 brioche buns
  • 4 slices of cheddar cheese
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon of Sriracha sauce


  1. In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, breadcrumbs, egg, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.
  2. Form the mixture into 4 patties.
  3. Grill the patties over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until cooked to your desired level of doneness.
  4. Toast the brioche buns on the grill for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Top each patty with a slice of cheddar cheese and allow it to melt.
  6. Assemble the burgers with the cooked bacon, avocado, tomato, and red onion.
  7. In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise and Sriracha sauce.
  8. Spread the sauce on the top half of the buns.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

The 2000s: The Rise of Superfoods

The 2000s saw a rise in superfoods, with a focus on healthy and nutrient-dense ingredients. Kale, quinoa, and acai berries were all the rage, and smoothie bowls became a popular breakfast option. The decade also saw a rise in food blogging and social media, with food becoming a popular subject for Instagram and Pinterest.

acai bowl with strawberries, kiwi, blueberries, and banana

Iconic Recipe: Acai Bowl


  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup of frozen berries
  • 1/4 cup of acai puree
  • 1/2 cup of almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon of honey or maple syrup (optional)
  • Toppings of your choice (such as granola, sliced fruits, coconut flakes, or chia seeds)


  1. In a blender, combine the frozen banana, frozen berries, acai puree, almond milk, and honey or maple syrup (if desired).
  2. Blend until smooth and creamy. If the mixture is too thick, add more almond milk as needed.
  3. Pour the acai mixture into a bowl.
  4. Top with your favorite toppings, such as granola, sliced fruits, coconut flakes, or chia seeds.
  5. Enjoy immediately!

This Acai Bowl recipe is a delicious and healthy breakfast option packed with antioxidants and nutrients. It’s a refreshing and colorful way to start your day. Feel free to customize the toppings based on your preferences.


Exploring the popular foods by decade takes us on a nostalgic journey through time. From the retro recipes of the 1950s to the food revolution of the 2000s, each decade has brought its own unique culinary trends and flavors. The acai bowl recipe, with its refreshing and colorful presentation, serves as a delicious representation of the modern-day food scene. Whether you’re craving a taste of the past or looking to experiment with the latest food trends, trying out these iconic recipes from different decades is a delightful way to dine down memory lane.