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The best thing your school cafeteria served

At JG school back in the sixties, it was the cornbread: hot, salty, greasy. And the homemade peanut butter cookies. What was the best thing cooked at your school cafeteria?

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  1. Mashed Potatoes and Gravy...all from instant I am sure, (probably why I liked it as my Mother would never use them). I used to trade my chicken friend steak or whatever protein for another pile of those spuds and gravy.

    3 Replies
    1. re: bubbles4me

      I'm with you on that. My mom never made instant potatoes so it was a treat for us.

      1. re: bubbles4me

        "I used to trade my chicken friend steak or whatever protein for another pile of those spuds and gravy."

        I like my freiends lightly sauteed and served on a bed of mesclin and a nice mujdei sauce.

        1. re: bubbles4me

          Flushing, NY in the mid to late 60's: Tuna fish hero with ice cold milk, Linden's Chocolate Chip Cookies and Scooter Pies. Otherwise, you'd best bring your own baloney sandwich!

        2. Deli sandwich on a bagel, with tater tots.

          2 Replies
          1. re: MattInNJ

            I just remembered this one. The nice lady from Afghanistan (I believe her name was Najeista(sp?)) made that best meatloaf ever! Me and my brother loved it so much, we got the recipe from her and still use it to this day....

            1. re: MattInNJ

              please post the recipe in Home Cooking with a description!

          2. Nothing was entirely edible at our high school cafeteria. They did make white rolls for which they clearly didn't sift the flour, because the top crust was always speckled with little globs of uncooked white flour. We'd peel those off and eat the rolls, which didn't have great texture or flavor but were always warm and much improved by real butter. It's a minor miracle there was real butter, because this was the era when catsup was considered a vegetable by the feds who administered the school lunch program. I can't remember anything else that wasn't delivered frozen and cooked on site.

            I mostly brownbagged it, or ate the packaged goods that were sold as fundraisers in the cafeteria.

            1. humbling and equalizing work experience - every student in my high school in hawaii was required to work in the cafeteria at least one day, serving or some other relatively safe chore (no knives or stoves).

              as for food - wednesday was always enchilada day in our jhs in texas. for some reason, i liked those things, though in retrospect they're probably no better than the frozen u-wave stuff from a convenience store.

              14 Replies
              1. re: Loren3

                >>every student in my high school in hawaii was required to work in the cafeteria at least one day, serving or some other relatively safe chore (no knives or stoves).

                public high school? that is an AWESOME policy.

                  1. re: cimui

                    I'm a principal in an elementary school. I think it would be a great service learning project to involve the kids more. We already collect all food waste and it goes to a pig farm. I'm going to have to think up a way to get the kids involved a little more... at least the older ones.

                  2. re: Loren3

                    Today at our little downeast Maine HS we had veggie pizzas w/ home made thin crust topped w/ tomatoes, peppers and onions grown in our school garden, served to me by one of my favorite "problem" students who beamed and smiled as he served me. Cool.

                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                        Wow - Passadumkeg how did you get the school garden started? We just moved, my daughter is in a nut-free classroom and the teacher sent home a depressing list of processed snack foods that are nut-free. I'd love to get the school more inspired about food. If you prefer, email me - address is on my profile.

                        TIA :)

                        1. re: maplesugar

                          Nope, a young biology teacher, upon whom I have a terrible crush.

                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                            i hope your wife doesn't read chowhound.

                            1. re: alkapal

                              She might have a crush on her too, the bio teacher is very sweet, watched our dog while we were in Korea, lobsters by rowing dory and is married to a wonderful young man. A special person.

                          2. re: maplesugar

                            Our school has 4 plots in the local community garden. The students do all the planting, etc. before the school year is out. The plots are then tended by some of the teachers and the master gardener over the summer. All the produce is donated to a local food shelf.

                            1. re: lindainwi

                              That's great--I think gardening is so grounding and relaxing, and it really involves you in the miracle of nature.

                              Do you use any of the produce in the cafeteria?

                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                              When school gardens and greenhouses are incorported into the curriculum and funding process with the same importance as gymnasiums, we will see progress.

                              Healthy food consumption is part of Physical Fitness.

                          3. Food in the 50s and 60s was quite good. The best: enchiladas, bierocks, "chop suey", ground meat in brown gravey over mashed potatoes, lasgana, meat loaf, and beef stew.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                              Without a doubt the 'Sloppy Joes'...I loved Sloppy Joe days (what was in those things anyway?) and I can still hear that lunch cart rumbling down the hall and the smell billowing in the air.
                              Ahhh....bring back the early '60's and make me young again :).

                              1. re: latindancer

                                Boy Latindancer I agree with you, I have been trying to find out and cannot duplicate them, I had them in about 1960 at University High School in West Los Angeles.

                                1. re: malibumike

                                  sloppy joes.... man were those things good! that and the clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. That was my favorite school lunch ever.

                                2. re: latindancer

                                  Absolutely, sloppy joe days were my favorite too.

                                  The few brief encounters I've had with sloppy joes lately though, are not the same. It's like someone dumped a jar of jelly into the mix.

                                3. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                  Yes, beerocks! And when my kids were growing up, I often made hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes and christened it "Public School Food."

                                  1. re: mothrpoet

                                    served with peas, that's a deconstructed shepherd's pie? ;-)).

                                4. in the 60's in elementary school in sw florida, mrs. foss, cafeteria manager, made those great chocolate-oatmeal no bake cookies. every now and then i get a craving....

                                  it looks like i am not alone: http://www.cooks.com/rec/search/0,1-0...

                                  thanks to gourmaniac, i remembered shepherd's pie (although probably made with ground beef). yummy!

                                  1. -yeast rolls
                                    -cheese toast with vegetable soup
                                    -peanut butter cookies
                                    -those no bake chocolate & peanut butter cookies with oatmeal in them

                                    1. I came up during the Reagan years, so ... nothing. The ketchup, maybe? Actually, I guess the breakfast was probably the best thing. It's hard to screw up pancakes from a mix.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: tmso

                                        well, tmso, at least you had the option for breakfast. our cafeteria was only open for lunch. when breakfast became available in all public schools (1975), i was already in high school. http://www.educationbug.org/a/the-his...
                                        (but i still don't recall they served breakfast, but maybe that is because i had breakfast at home.)

                                        1. re: alkapal

                                          Yeah, when I was a kid I was always happy when I got to eat breakfast at school. My parents, like most of us who got reduced lunch, usually didn't let me eat the prepared lunches, and I didn't want to either. I think the only ones who ate them were on free lunch, and even some of them brown bagged it. I remember we wrote letters to President Reagan asking for vegetables, and he sent us back a signed picture. By fifth or sixth grade, there was no way you could have dragged me or most of my friends into the caffeteria, and if anyone couldn't afford to bring a lunch, we'd just share. That kept on through high school.

                                          1. re: tmso

                                            Must be a regional thing. I grew up during the same years (Reagan years) and had the BEST school lunches ever. Real food, not "pizza hut" or subway or mcd's from the 90s.... We had vegetable soup and pbj sandwiches with snickerdoodles. Other favorites were fish planks and cole slaw or the chopped patties with turnip greens and yams. Once a month we had turkey with dressing, green beans, and rolls. Very often apple cobbler. And I really loved it when we had baby carrots or carrots and peas. Then in high school there was also a salad bar if you didn't want to do either of the two main choices for hot food. (I graduated in 85). I hated taking my lunch 'cause my mom always sent ham on bread with mustard even though I hated mustard. I much preferred the meat, 2 vegetables, roll or cornbread, jello or pudding, and dessert the schools served.

                                            1. re: shellybean520

                                              control over the food served at school cafeterias rests primarily with the local jurisdictions. there is increasing control/regulation by the federal govt., however.

                                              i grew up in suburban -- small town sw florida, and we had great home-made food -- but this was in the late sixties and seventies. florida has good produce and good southern cooks. ;-).

                                      2. 1970's Toronto. Shepherds Pie. Would always order it even if I brown bagged.

                                        1. In high school my cafeteria served a jumbo chocolate chip cookie, it was baked on the edges, warm and raw on the inside. IMO, absolute perfection. They had the cookies everyday, and they were only a quarter.

                                          On the other hand my college cafeteria cooked nothing worthwhile, I guess I would have to go with the salad bar or the make-it-yourself PB&J.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: lizzy

                                            We had those same cookies! I think they were 2 for dime.

                                          2. In the late 60s/early 60s, I was privileged to attend a boarding school in a Phila. suburb whose kitchen staff all hailed from the American south. I honestly can't say that just one dish stands out because it was all sooooo good! A few highlights:

                                            - German Eggs - a frequent Sunday breakfast dish also known as Farmer's Omelet - bacon, sauteed onions, home fries and eggs, all in one

                                            - Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding - maybe once or twice a semester, for dinner. My first experience with Yorkshire Pudding and I've never had better

                                            - Southern Fried Chicken and Drop Biscuits - paradise for a weekend lunch

                                            - Grits available at every breakfast - mmmm, with a dollop of butter and some S&P.

                                            - A mound of perfectly round ice cream scoops presented in a molded ring of cornflakes and - I don't know - caramel?

                                            - A very special breakfast offering - usually at exam time - called Bishop's Cakes. They were like beignets - or maybe fritters - rolled in granulated sugar, to be eaten just as is or slathered with butter and syrup.

                                            - Oh! and angel food cakes, either plain or cocoa-flavored, and the hollow center filled to over-flowing with chocolate- or plain-flavored whipped cream.

                                            Ah, those were the days...

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Deenso

                                              I attended a boarding school in Ireland during the '70s so picture unpeeled, boiled potatoes, "mystery meat" and stale bread. The highlights were fish fingers (you could trade these for about 2-3 breakfast fruit and cheeses), meatloaf, "tinned spaghetti" and the "glorious" tapioca with jam. We sent it back to the kitchen once and the irate nun returned it and made us eat it. On the other hand we had raw milk, warm from the cow, for corn flakes, real butter, and real apple tarts, gooseberries by the ton, gooseberry wine, a REAL apple tart with homemade puff pastry crust, and tea made in a teapot 4 times a day. PAX.

                                              1. re: Deenso

                                                Ooh, deenso, the grits, angel food cakes, bishop's cakes, and the ice cream-caramel-cornflake dessert all sound absolutely delectable! My mouth just watered all over my keyboard

                                                1. re: Deenso

                                                  Farmer's Omelet--that's what it was called! I attended a Community College for a couple of terms and the kitchen staff made this on Friday mornings, they just called it Cheese Omelet and would ask, "Mixed?". Not Mixed meant potatoes and onions on the side. The waiting line would go out the door on Friday. That omelet became one of my favorite comfort foods/guilty pleasures and still is.

                                                2. In the fifties and sixties there was no best thing at the private schools I attended.I can only recall three things eaten without great relutance,Nabisco Saltines,hard cooked eggs and cottage cheese.Nothing "cooked"in the recipe sense was decent.One thing that sticks in my memory to this day,"beef stew"made with ground beef,canned peas and liberal amounts of sugar.A truely nasty plate of food.Much worse is I am sure blocked out,this is a good thing.Those of us that went to private or Catholic school envied our buddies in the public schools getting decent>good food.grass is always greener maybe the case here.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: lcool

                                                    lcool, sounds like the grass really *was* greener in your case!

                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                      Maybe,but a case could be made for the public school offerings being almost as bad.At least when serving 1,200 plus there is hope for selection
                                                      The youngest SiL went to public,said the food was so bad,survival required
                                                      a packed lunch.Her twin however disagrees,and today he is the picky-picky fussy one. go figure

                                                      1. re: lcool

                                                        i was lucky, growing up in an area with good local produce and meat. and good southern cooks, of course (sw fla.)

                                                  2. tater tots. i'd still gobble them down.

                                                    7 Replies
                                                    1. re: cimui


                                                      I wish our cafeteria served tater tots ... I might've been an even more overweight kid.

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        nuckin' futs, man. ;) which school cafeteria *didn't* serve tater tots?

                                                        i grew up in lexington, kentucky and went to public middle and high school in the 90s where/when tater tots were very much an essential "vegetable". really. you got to choose two veggie sides with your main and tater tots were always on offer as one of them.

                                                        1. re: cimui

                                                          There you go, I think it's likely a generational thing. Sounds like tater tots have been de rigueur the past two decades, not so in the preceding decades.

                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                            Tater tots were available in small town southern Illinois public schools from the late 1960's onward.

                                                            Pizza day was popular--the cheese was always really really dark from being overbaked. Ish.

                                                            But I'll never forget the one and only time a new dish was served when I was in 5th or 6th grade--"Ham Balls with Raisin Sauce."

                                                            The garbage men got hernias that day from lifting the heavy cans.

                                                            1. re: DrJo

                                                              ah, such is the fate of many "creative" dishes that we can only recall because of their photos in vintage 1950's and '60's cookbooks. or if we had to try them at school. ;-).

                                                              to wit: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6212...

                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                  does it make you think of a particular character in south park, maria?

                                                      2. NYC public schools in 70s and 80s -- Jamaican beef patties (Tower Isle kind). I noticed a huge change in the quality of food from the 70s to 80s. We used to be served semi-decent fare on cardboard trays. I would look forward to some meals. Then when they switched over to styrofoam, the food quality deteriorated quite a bit, and I started bringing my own food.

                                                        1. Growing up in New England in the early 80's we looked forward to:
                                                          1. Friday - Meatball sub (grinder/ hoagie/ whatever) day overloaded with thick, over-spiced marinara.
                                                          2. Once a month they did sloppy joes which was pretty much all the leftover meat from the month right before (or in some cases right after) it went bad, mixed with a ton of spices and served with a mystery 'sloppy joe' sauce that I still can't figure out today.

                                                          Both were the only days I declined the homemade lunches that mom packed.

                                                          8 Replies
                                                          1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                                                            I'd have to agree with you.

                                                            I remember what I always called the "All-Purpose Patty", one day it was veal parm, the next they called it chicken parm , then Bacon Burger, Salisbury Steak when they burned lines in it, was it all the same patty ??

                                                            1. re: Jimbosox04

                                                              I, too, grew up in New England. Only it was so long ago that we couldn't have had meatball sub on Friday. Friday was still ruled by the Catholic churches so fish and pizza only. No meat.

                                                              My favorite was the bacon burger. It wasn't a hamburger with bacon but some kind of patty. No idea what it was but I still crave them. :)

                                                              My least favorite was chicken salad. It made me sick once in 4th grade and I've never eaten it again since. (And that was in 1973.) LOL.

                                                              1. re: why_itsme

                                                                I'm of the same generation as you. I grew up in a small town in the midwest where most of the Catholics attended the Catholic K-8 school then attended public high school. As I recall, even the public elementary schools and definitely the H.S. always served fish on Fridays.

                                                                1. re: why_itsme

                                                                  Bacon burger. A bunch of us New England kids ate the same meal. A few of us are still searching for the bacon burger patty. (It possibly contained no bacon.) Vermette's Market, in Amesbury, Mass. was the last sighting of a "real" bacon burger. I bought some last year and they were the same as school. Still trying to figure out their source.

                                                                2. re: Jimbosox04

                                                                  "Bacon burger." My favourite.This was not a burger topped with bacon. It was a patty and possibly had no bacon in it. Went to school in Mass. and this was on the menu during the 70/80's for the entire K-12. A small market here sold "real" school cafe bacon burgers until last year. I am going to quiz them about it. A bacon burger, roll, a single leaf of lettuce, and too much school style mayo...The best. How about "Kangeroo pockets?"
                                                                  Don't get me started.

                                                                  1. re: Yeat the bun

                                                                    Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.

                                                                    I have periodically searched for the elusive "bacon burger" for years. My latest internet search led me here (I just registered with Chowhound to right this reply). At least I found someone who knows what the heck I'm talking about. I really thought I was going to find the holy bacon burger grail this time (so close and yet so far). Please let me know if you find out anything from the market (any chance I could get the name of the place?).

                                                                    1. re: Robertr

                                                                      yeat the bun and robertr, i suggest that you start a new "bacon burger" thread, if you haven't already done so. otherwise, your quest is buried in this long thread....

                                                                      1. re: Robertr

                                                                        "Vermette's Market" in Amesbury,MA. These were the real deal. A package of 6 patties for $4.00 or less. My cousin and I are "jonesing" big time for them right now. Fried in a thin layer of oil to make them a bit crisp. Mayo, lettuce. and a big bun. Wow. I am still working on a source to obtain "real" bacon burgers. I will keep you posted. Please let me know if you find anymore info. about "real" bacon burgers. Honestly, I still do not know what they are made of but I want more!

                                                                3. Salisbury Steak

                                                                  Hardshell tacos

                                                                  I think with just those two food items, I would be happy on a desert island for several months at least.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                    Totally agree about the Salisbury steak!

                                                                    1. re: raytamsgv

                                                                      At my school this was universally known as "Mystery Meat".

                                                                    2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                      The cafeteria Salisbury steak I was served was god-awful ...

                                                                      My favorite was a midwestern thing, wet burritos. It was a prepared 'burrito,' the outside of which wasn't a tortilla as I recall, and was yellow. More of a chalupa I guess? And the wet part was tomato sauce topped with cheese. I'd love to have one right now.

                                                                    3. Southeastern Massachusetts in the mid 70s to the mid 80s:

                                                                      My favorite, which I swear still crave sometimes, was the cheese ravioli and marinara. It was very soft, it had to have been from a can. But I loved it, and if I knew what brand it was, I'd buy it.

                                                                      At the time I didn't like the food, but it was all cooked in house, and pretty decent. And all of the desserts were made in house. We had a lot of bar cookies. "Congo bars" were my favorite.

                                                                      After graduation from college I moved in with my dad. His next door neighbor was the cafeteria lady from my middle school, and she recognized me! She was an absolute sweetheart, and an incredible home cook.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: manraysky

                                                                        I've discovered Amy's organic canned cheese ravioli. Don't laugh, I even like it cold, straight from the can sometimes. I find it at some health food stores and a few upscale ones have it; I really think you might like it. It's nice to keep in the cupboard for when you really don't feel like cooking anything.

                                                                        1. re: walker

                                                                          Oh wow, thanks! I will definitely look out for that. That might be the perfect combination of my childhood craving and not being complete garbage.

                                                                        2. re: manraysky

                                                                          I see it's been awhile since anything was posted on this. But I loved those congo bars as well. If you found a recipe can I have it?

                                                                          I was in eastern ma 70-80's

                                                                          Came to this post looking for the beef pie recipe. Was a flakey phyllo type crust with shredded beef and gravey.

                                                                          1. re: sunrise010

                                                                            Congo bars = tollhouse bars = blondies. There must be as many recipes of these in the world as there are for straight up chocolate chip cookies. Try Mark Bittman's blondies--they should be just what you're after. I found his recipe through Smitten Kitchen and they're EXCELLENT...gives you plenty of variations to play with, too.

                                                                        3. Whistle Dogs in the late 80s.

                                                                          1. In my day, the Oakland public schools were well-known for their sweet rolls. In fact, I remember when I got to junior high (not available at my elementary school), my Mom, who had been a high school teacher in Oakland ten years earlier, asked me with longing if they still made them. I assume they were made in a central kitchen then baked on site, but they were delicious, huge, and I think they were 15 cents. They also made really good cookies and amazing short bread (using all that cheap government surplus butter), that was 5 cents for a slab about 4 inches square and an inch thick. I don't think I ever ate an actual meal in the cafeteria, though. Brown bag all the way. My high school had a lovely cafeteria (in a stand-alone building with big windows overlooking the central lawn), but I don't remember ever buying anything there.

                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                              I went to OPS as well, grad in the mid 70's. Mom wouldn't give us money for the sweet rolls, but when i finally got a part time job in my senior year I would buy them occasionally (most of my money went for pizza, albums, and gas.) Aside from the frozen malteds that came from the snack bar, i think that is the only cafeteria food I ever ate in 12 years of public school.

                                                                              I had forgotten, thanks for reminding me Ruth.

                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                King Jr Jr high in Berkeley had tasty sweet rolls, too. This was before the Edible Schoolyard -- there was no wood burning pizza oven in the yard, then. And Berkeley High had great french fries. I never bought anything else since it was an open campus and we usually left during lunch. I suspect that both places have better/healthier food, now. But...those fries were good...

                                                                                1. re: Glencora

                                                                                  I went to King Jr. High as well. The cafeteria in 1970 had really good baked spaghetti, with melted cheddar on top.
                                                                                  They dug out a big slab in one of those red and white checked cardboard containers.
                                                                                  A carton of milk and a couple of orange cupcakes.
                                                                                  That cafeteria and the the are around it was soooooooo dingy.

                                                                                  I was thrilled to see what Alice Waters did for that school. It was not exactly the happiest place on the planet when I was there.

                                                                                2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                  hmmmm.....I went to Tech and graduated in 1971 and I don't remember sweet rolls. But I don't remember much about high school...thanks to graduating early plus a year in Mexico I managed to only spend a year actually at Tech....Besides, all my meals were eaten at Chris and John's or Maria's Bavarian Cheesecake :-)

                                                                                  1. re: janetofreno

                                                                                    I remember the sweet rolls, from both junior high and high school. They were good, but yes, absolutely paled in comparison to Maria's Bavarian Cheesecake (which was located right across the street from the high school, next to Chris and John's Hotdogs, or was it Chris and Jon's?, which rumor had was partially owned by Clint Eastwood, a Tech alum, of course). Janet and I and our friend H had no problem splitting one entire cheesecake between the three of us...

                                                                                    sigh. I think it is a fast food place and a video store there now....

                                                                                3. My elementary school cafeteria in Utah in the mid-80's had the most delicious bar cookies they called peanut butter fingers. It was the highlight of my week if we were having those for dessert.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: mollyomormon

                                                                                    I went to wappinger csd in NY. It sounds like our graham frosties. They were the best. Graham crackers , peanut butter and chocolate frosting. Yummy.

                                                                                  2. In the mornings before class/homeroom if you came early enough the cafeteria sold fresh muffins- double chocolate chip and chocolate chip , blueberry, lemon, etc that were wrapped up in foil and so tender and warm you'd had to eat it with a fork. I'm sure they were from a mix, but damn if those weren't the best things on a cold morning!

                                                                                    Also, Italian subs and fries. And chocolate chip cookies- which were also freshly baked before lunch.

                                                                                    1. I generally brought my lunch - eternally dieting diet. But when we had:

                                                                                      Hamburgers and french fries

                                                                                      I was in line!

                                                                                      1. went to high school in the mid 70's. my junior/senior year they ditched the school lunch program and had some wonderful ol hippies take over the cafeteria.. so we had things like who wheat pizza.. i actually worked in teh kitchen senior year for credit - one of early steps on the road to foodiedom (yes i call myself a foodie, even here on CH - i don't buy the CH definition at all)

                                                                                        1. When I went to high school in the early 80s, the cafeteria had awesome chocolate milk shakes that were so thick you had to eat them with a spoon (25¢) – this may sound weird, but they tasted really good if you ate them with Fritos corn chips. The garlic bread was also amazing (10¢) and really yummy, greasy french fries (25¢). Those were the days . . . of great metabolism!

                                                                                          1. Growing up in PGH PA, I rarley ate the cafeteria food. Horrid wretched crap. 1exception- when they had mexican pizza. Gooey cheddar cheese atop a beef sauce on a chewey crust. Greeeeeasy. The only other thing I can remember because I have mentally blocked out all such food are the chocolate chip cookies, and only because they were the worst I had ever tasted. My daughter just stated kindergarten and I am really curious to know how their lunches are. Nowadays, cookies aren't even an option. How sad.

                                                                                            1. Age separator for hounds: How many of us remember the term "Lunch Ladies"?

                                                                                              I have memories of Bonus Days where they served spinach or kale, which no one else would eat and I piled it high from freebies from friends. The lunch ladies even had a jar of vinegar for me.

                                                                                              There were semi-annual "Spaghetti Suppers" as a school fund raiser. Leftovers at the end of the evening were served on the sly to the L.L.'s favorite calorie consumer students.

                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                                                I do, I do! There were never "Lunch Men", only "Lunch Ladies" :). My fave at school was the beef barley soup which they would serve in a styrofoam coffee cup. I would jam a bunch of crackers in it and call it a meal. Also, the sausage and egg sandwich on a Kaiser roll. Loved it!

                                                                                                1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                                                  Oh yes, those lunch ladies! What are they called now? I'm probably thinking it's probably gender neutral these days.

                                                                                                  1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                                                    Oh I remember the lunch ladies- I even remember their names- Ms Tinney and Ms Peden. They made the best cinnamon rolls in the world, some kind of country fried steak that wasn't fried and wasn't steak (it was made from soybeans), but the thing I remember most were the school rolls.

                                                                                                    I used to skip 10:00 study hall, and go hang around the kitchen while they made 'em- they would always let me sample from the first batch, straight from the oven...

                                                                                                    1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                                                      Bill Harley is a professional storyteller. "Mrs. Lunchroom Lady" is a scream.

                                                                                                      1. re: thinks too much

                                                                                                        what else are they called other than lunch ladies? lol

                                                                                                    2. '50s Illinois, the pre-Thanksgiving feast of turkey and dressing and potatoes and green beans. Never varied, and the potatoes were mashed from real ones and the gravy (for once!) not out of a can. The rest of the year my favorite was a hot dish (casserole kinda thing) they called Marietta, which was hamburger, kidney beans, tomatoes and onion, all mixed into cooked macaroni with shredded cheese and baked with more cheese on top. My mother made a skillet dish exactly like that, only without the cheese, until I persuaded her to try putting some in. After that we had Marietta at home, too. I still like it.

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                                        Mid 60's suburban Chicago....the best garlic bread I have ever had.

                                                                                                        1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                                          will, your marietta dish sounds close to "johnny marzetti" http://bestroominthehouse.wordpress.c...

                                                                                                          comfort food, for sure!

                                                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                            "Marietta" may very well have been a poorly-remembered Johnny Marzetti - someone who could remember the dish OK but had to sorta guess at the name. No matter what you call it, I still crave it enough to make it at least once a year.

                                                                                                        2. I would bring odd things like fried egg sandwiches or a sleeve of saltines and cubed cheese (now they package that up and slap a $3 lunchable tag on it- back then I was 'weird') But in HS I would stand in line sometimes for a bagel. It was 35 cents,only available in garlic, had an oily butter flavor grease applied and it was wrapped in a small piece of foil. They were so good. I was too little when my Mom ran the PTA and instituted 'Hoagie Day' - but my older sisters would tell me that all week long if you pressed your nose to the wooden tables you could smell the italian dressing.

                                                                                                          1. At my junior high in the early 80's in upstate NY, the lunch ladies used to serve a really good Chicken Fricassee. It had a bright yellowish color and was very full flavored. They used to serve it over fluffy white rice. It had lots of chunks of chicken (and unfortunately some bones from time to time) and was really tasty. I actually still crave this from time to time.
                                                                                                            Of course, I wasn't allowed to admit that I liked this in front of my lunch buddies because they called it "Chicken Frickinpee".

                                                                                                            1. Big cinnamon rolls, which, of course, weren't included in the regular lunch but at the "snack bar", so many of us skipped the regular lunch and spent our lunch money on a cinnamon roll instead.

                                                                                                              1. the BEST cookies I've still ever had! little chocolate chip ones, and big oatmeal chocolate chip ones..crispy edges and a little raw in the middle..they would come out warm the same time every day...yumm..
                                                                                                                i STILL crave those!

                                                                                                                1. Tuna fish sandwich with celery. Our school had the best glazed donuts - donuts and a coke for lunch sometimes - we would be bouncing off the ceiling for the afternoon.

                                                                                                                  1. Out here in California, the best thing was the cinnamon coffee cake it was delicious. I found a recipe and tried to duplicate it, but it didn't come out the same.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: paprkutr

                                                                                                                      Try the Coffee Cake from the King Arthur Flour Cookbook, I think it's pretty close.

                                                                                                                    2. hot dogs.
                                                                                                                      freshman year i ate the prepared stuff. the next year i discovered the ladies would prepare a few items off-menu. every now and then i would have them grill up a few hot dogs for me and saute a batch of onions. the rolls were toasted. freshmen were jealous.

                                                                                                                      1. Either the fries n gravy (surely from a box!) or the chicken Caesar wraps - the dressing was scratch-made and they always sold out.

                                                                                                                        1. My school had excellent food...my favs:
                                                                                                                          - oven baked chicken with rice and gravy
                                                                                                                          - chili con carne (with corn niblets) over rice
                                                                                                                          - garlic bread on hot dog buns
                                                                                                                          - caramel cuts (like blondies, but better)
                                                                                                                          - Portuguese bean soup

                                                                                                                          1. gigantic pieces of homemade cake with milk... sometimes that was all I would eat at lunch!! Could handle it in junior high!

                                                                                                                            1. I can't remember anything at my school cafeteria...but I am a teacher, and so I have recent memeories...

                                                                                                                              NYC-collard greens with ham hocks...I would ask for a platefull, and they would add an extra bit of shredded ham...yum.

                                                                                                                              Santo Domingo, D.R.-empanadas de lambi(conch) hot, and toasty with chewy conch.

                                                                                                                              Beijing-they did not make much Chinese food, which was a shame, so very little was memorable(sad).

                                                                                                                              Luxembourg-spinach with cream sauce-again I get a plateful.

                                                                                                                              peace, jill

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: jill kibler

                                                                                                                                jill, you would enjoy fuschia dunlop's new memoir about her experience as an (intrepid) englishwoman in china, mostly about food. i perused the book at borders last sunday, and found it very readable and engaging. http://www.amazon.com/Sharks-Fin-Sich...

                                                                                                                              2. In high school, Thursday lunch was fried chicken, dirty rice & strawberry shortcake.

                                                                                                                                The rice in my elementary school grossed me out so much that I refused to eat any rice for a few years. OTOH, they made great pigs in a blanket. The hot dog was wrapped in a really good homemade roll, and there was also chili inside. Another favorite was something I can best describe as a huge, soft breadstick, topped with chipped beef. It tasted better than it sounds.

                                                                                                                                The chocolate oatmeal boiled cookies that others mentioned were also a favorite.

                                                                                                                                Occasionally, platters of really good cheddar cheese sticks were passed around to the classrooms as a snack.

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: pattisue

                                                                                                                                  Oh,can I relate to the rice.My school for grades 6,7 & 8 served rice in a large warming table pan "COLD".Served by the jumbo ice cream scoop.It took a power lifter to scoop it,could not get a fork in it,would stick to the wall in a solid mass and also bounced.NASTY STUFF,put me off rice for four or five years.

                                                                                                                                2. I only ate school lunches for a brief period in 5th and 6th grades (went home or lunch boxedbefore that, brown bagged after that), but I have exceedingly fond memories of the Glorified Rice. It was simply cooked white rice with crushed pineapple and whipped cream, but I loved it.

                                                                                                                                  1. Elementary school, fish sticks, no ketchup, no way. Junior high, brown bag. In high school, I never ate there, we left school and went home, or local fast food, Burger King when they were good, you could actually see your burger come down the conveyor belt, hot and good, no reheated in a microwave. Our favorites were two local BBQ joints, one raised sandwichs to $1.25 from a buck, we still toughed it out. My schools were all Houston ISD and the food was uniformly disgusting, no attempt was made to serve anything with any flavor, time period 60's and 70's.

                                                                                                                                    1. So many things. At my high school junk food was king.

                                                                                                                                      -everyone ALWAYS ate on chicken/steak nugget and mashed potato days
                                                                                                                                      -Tues and Thurs Bosco Sticks which are giant breadsticks filled with Mozzarella
                                                                                                                                      -Mexican Pizza, scary orange and oh so good
                                                                                                                                      -canned pear halves
                                                                                                                                      -seasoned fries with honey mustard
                                                                                                                                      -giant sugar cookies with pink frosting

                                                                                                                                      Also, a lot of the time my table of 12 would pool our money, get about 8 vending machine items(generally gardettos, hot fries, doritos, and whatever else looked good) and 4 bottles of soda and just share it all. Ewww! Ew! Eww!

                                                                                                                                      1. The Rolls! When they were baked golden brown on top and fresh out of the oven you'd think you could eat them forever. When they were light brown on top and doughy in the middle, you could fling little balls of dough to the ceiling and they'd stick forever.

                                                                                                                                        1. Went to a French Lycee here in Montreal my favorite items were:

                                                                                                                                          -Coquilles St-Jacques.
                                                                                                                                          -Veal coucous
                                                                                                                                          -the varous pastries: Croissants, chocolatines, palmiers, chaussons aux pommes etc...

                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Evilbanana11

                                                                                                                                            okay, you just made me very very envious!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                              Unsurprising enough, the day most kids enjoyed the most was the day (only day of the week) that they served fries.

                                                                                                                                          2. Udon and Soba.
                                                                                                                                            Sloppy Joe

                                                                                                                                            1. Japan (80s-90s, Elementary-High School). Bentos with an assortment of gorgeous, delicious, fresh, well-balanced foods. There were times I didn't like certain items, but it was never boring.

                                                                                                                                              When I moved to Ottawa, Canada for my last year of high school, the only thing anyone ate at lunch was poutine, and it was good (fresh fries, chicken gravy, squeeky curds).

                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                              1. re: tjr

                                                                                                                                                I'm seriously jealous and hungry now. dang!!

                                                                                                                                              2. I went to a tiny high school in southern Iowa, class of 2001. The lunch ladies worked all morning to make our food. Yeah, a lot of it came from Sysco boxes, but the spaghetti was homemade and really good. So were the molasses cookies. I STILL miss those. One of the more interesting offerings was what they called a flying saucer. Perfectly round piece of ham, scoop of mashed potatoes on top, then a ladle of cheese sauce.

                                                                                                                                                1. As a staff member at at boarding school, I *still* eat in high school cafeteria every day. And it can be astoudingly good stuff.

                                                                                                                                                  Some favorite items:

                                                                                                                                                  1) tabouleh and avocado/shrimp/corn salad from our salad bar
                                                                                                                                                  2) chicken piccata
                                                                                                                                                  3) vegetarian quesadillas with black beans and freshly made salsa cruda
                                                                                                                                                  4) red snapper with mango-jalapeno salsa
                                                                                                                                                  5) a beet/green apple/walnut salad that is to die for

                                                                                                                                                  Of course, we also get the occasional greasy chicken, frozen burgers and fries too. But the number of good dishes outweigh the awful.

                                                                                                                                                  When I worrk weekends I also have access to our Sunday waffle bars.... yum. And then there was the time our chef hand-torched hundreds of pineapple pieces and brown sugar as a dessert for a Carribean themed lunch.

                                                                                                                                                  We are all certainly spoiled.

                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: elkerette

                                                                                                                                                    This is not cafateria food. I hate you.

                                                                                                                                                  2. I love this thread! We had decent cafeterias in our schools so all were equipped a with full commercial kitchens. It was the 70s & 80s in central PA. Some of my faves were;

                                                                                                                                                    Johnny Marzetti - basicly macaroni in a tomato meat sauce
                                                                                                                                                    Turkey and stuffing
                                                                                                                                                    Bananas in orange juice
                                                                                                                                                    Chocolate peanut butter fudge bars
                                                                                                                                                    Bologna and butter sammies wrapped in wax paper (I know it sounds disgusting)

                                                                                                                                                    Why do I hear Adam Sandler singing Lunch Lady Land?

                                                                                                                                                    Yum, nostalgia.

                                                                                                                                                    Yum, nostalgia.

                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lynnlato

                                                                                                                                                      I was central PA in the 80s and 90s and we had none of the above. The only things that we had that were edible was the taco day offerings and tater tots. And even then the tater tots were undercooked.

                                                                                                                                                    2. Something about the open-face turkey sandwich... sliced turkey on top of white bread, covered in gravy, with ice cream scoops of instant mashed potatoes and stuffing...yummmmmmm. Probably due to my family being Japanese, we would never really have this at home (go figure), it was always fun for me to get.

                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: gyozagirl

                                                                                                                                                        turkey and dressing with gravy and mashed potatoes was always welcome!

                                                                                                                                                      2. Catholic HS - Meant "Fishwich" & Fries always on Fridays, think McDonald's fish sandwich only bigger. The FF were hot and crispy! And plenty of tarter sauce! To this day I still drag my fries thru the tarter sauce when I have fish and fries.

                                                                                                                                                        1. On Florida's West coast my favorite elementary school dish from the 60's was Potato Turbate. Sort of a Shepard's Pie sort of thing.

                                                                                                                                                          This thread prompted me to find the recipe, the attached thread gives an explanation of the name too!


                                                                                                                                                          1. Went to 3 different high schools in the course of 3 years in the late 90's/early 2000's:

                                                                                                                                                            Acalanes (NorCal) -- Zombies. Warm buttermilk biscuits with chunks of cheddar cheese and sausage. People would scramble out of class during break to get these.

                                                                                                                                                            Iona Catholic Secondary (Mississauga, ONT) -- Poutine with shredded cheddar (as opposed to squeeky cheese) with malt vinegar and spicy Jamaican patties. Those are just the things that stick out, I crave that cafeteria food to this to this day.

                                                                                                                                                            El Cerrito High (NorCal) -- Giant, thin chocolate chip cookies kept warm under heat lamps. They were the size of one's head and exactly as someone else described the cookies at their school - crispy on the edges and mushy in the middle with melty chocolate chips. These were probably the only redeeming thing at ECHS, on the other end of the spectrum were the nachos -- a 99 cent bag of chips of your choice (Doritos, Cheetos, Funions, etc) with a ladle of nacho cheese, chili, and big pile of pickled jalapenos. And, they wonder why there is a problem with childhood obesity in the States.

                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: adrienne156

                                                                                                                                                              I also went to high school in Mississauga (though in the early 90s) and also have memories of Jamaican beef patties and fries + gravy. Our cafeteria was largely staffed by Filipinas so occasionally there was pancit and lumpia.

                                                                                                                                                              During elementary school there was no food on offer; you had to bring your own. I always went home for lunch since my grandparents were there to feed me.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mogo

                                                                                                                                                                Those fries with a couple of pumps of that industrial size malt vinegar -- yummm. I've been searching all over the SF Bay Area for a comparable poutine since and the gravies are never the same. I think I'm just going to have to suck it up and go buy a can of Bisto. :o)

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: adrienne156

                                                                                                                                                                Oh, the zombies! We had those at Los Lomas (same school district as Acalanes) in the 1980s, too. I loved them so much I would resort to bumming change off of friends when I didn't have any on me, just so that I could get my daily fix.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: adrienne156

                                                                                                                                                                  I was hoping someone would mention zombies! No sausage for me ( this during my 8 yr stint as a vegetarian). I would get to Acalanes early to have the first batch of velveeta-y yeast rolls. No wonder I was 200 + pounds when I graduated in 1993!;)

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sophiejj

                                                                                                                                                                    Just stopping by to post this:


                                                                                                                                                                    Someone mentioned in the comments that you can try using Pillsbury bread stick dough and it's been too long to know how close they were to the original. Tasted wonderfully junky to me.

                                                                                                                                                                2. Mac n Cheese that would break a plastic spoon
                                                                                                                                                                  Peanut butter cookies the size of your hand
                                                                                                                                                                  Chocolate milk, I can't remember the brand but ice cold it was heaven at lunch

                                                                                                                                                                  Of course, I wasn't worried about calories or fat content back then :)

                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                    Chocolate milk, cold, that's something you can't screw up. Almost. I remember still,(back from the 60's), when some poor kid was seemingly about to savour his chocolate milk, opened it, took a nice refreshing drink, and it was curdled, with chunks of former milk and a foul taste and odor to accompany. This Texas with no A/C and cold milk or ice cream was a true treat. Now they send the darlings home if the A/C breaks. To this day I stop, look, and smell any and all milk.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                                      James, I do remember a few not-so-cold chocolate milks myself.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                                        This just completely reminded me of an incident in the cafeteria at my middle school. We were sitting boy/girl/boy/girl b/c we had been unruly the previous day. I was sitting across from a boy I had never seen before. He was being obnoxious and trying to get attention from all the girls around him. Next thing I knew this kid pops his eye out and tosses it in his mouth and he's "peering" across at me w/ an open empty eye socket and an eyeball poking out of his lips! We screamed and laughed at the same time while the boy next to me blew milk out his nose and mouth. It turns out the boy had a prosthetic eye.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. I think my southwest Dade County junior high (Fla) probably had the worst food in the country. The only thing good about it was that it made my mother's food seem palatable. I specifically remember cookies so hard that you could whack them against the edge of the table and they wouldn't break. And the chocolate cake had the texture of foam rubber. It had a strangely interesting burnt taste, so I would say that was the best thing made, for entertainment value.

                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mlgb

                                                                                                                                                                        I also went to Dade County schools and remember the chocolate cake that tasted like dirt. Also,the absolutely revolting "raisin pie" which made you wonder how many of the raisins were flies.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: poptart

                                                                                                                                                                          Aaaaah, memories. And the slimiest, yellowest collard or turnip greens ever. I guess they were canned. It was 30 years before I would try greens again.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. I went to a private Catholic school that was always in a money crunch. They had a big room they called a cafeteria, but no food prep area. During elementary school we all trooped over there with our lunchpails, but there were these bizarre vending machines that supposedly covered the food groups. There was one that had canned items like chili or spaghetti- it came out of the chute hot and you had to carefully take it over to the can opener and try not to maim yourself for life in the process of getting it open. There was also that horrid machine, often seen in hospitals, that dribbles out "chicken broth", and "hot chocolate". The standard ice cream bar vending machine was also present but there was the ever present problem where if your selected bar was "out", you were screwed... The sophistication arrived when they pitched the vending machines and had a catering truck some by at lunch. My favorite was a greasy "taco" almost exactly like the mystery meat Jack in the Box ones and an apple.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. The 50's, Polish cafeteria ladies in NJ. Golumkies (stuffed cabbage), meat loaf and fried chicken. Home made cakes.
                                                                                                                                                                          High school, can't remember except red mashed potatoes on St. Joseph Day. Too busy chasing girls.
                                                                                                                                                                          70's as a gringo teacher in a small New Mex town. Chile, pinto beans & corn bread, real tacos and enchiladas.
                                                                                                                                                                          Finnish elem. school in 80's, salmon and potato cassarole and pea soup w/ blood pancakes on Thurs. (really!).
                                                                                                                                                                          Maine elementary school in 89/90, the price of lobster dropped below that of hamburger. My wife in Tremont Elem and me in Pemetic had LOBSTER STEW in a public school cafeteria!
                                                                                                                                                                          Bolivia K-12 private school, frozen or canned food does not exist in the third world. Every day soup, salad, maine course and dessert included as part of the job. Great fried chicken, mahadito (rice w/ charque [dried beef] with a fried egg on top) and an addictive meat pie called saltenas.
                                                                                                                                                                          Now, small town high school, brown bag it.

                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                            Oooo I bet those polish lunch ladies made some unbelievable food. (My Polish cousinis an incredible cook.) How lucky you were. I'd love to find someone like them and interview them. Can you imagine making golumkies for 200 kids?

                                                                                                                                                                          2. Elementary school in mid 50's - peanut butter sandwiches. After that school they were never the same. I tried to find a peanut butter to match it. Not until college when someone gave me a peanut butter and honey sandwich did I get a hit. I eat them that way still.
                                                                                                                                                                            Aside from that the peanut butter cookies - dry and crispy, Tuna boats, beef stew. Everything was made 'in house' then. There was no food service running the caf - just local ladies.

                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chowmel

                                                                                                                                                                              Yes! that sickeningly sweet government surplus peanut butter always served in a little paper cup with saltines on chili day. I never liked chili, tho'.

                                                                                                                                                                              We usually lunch-boxed it anyway. I had a cool Beatles lunchbox with a real glass-inside-thermos. To this day I still remember that room temperature American cheese sandwich with yellow mustard on wonder bread and a bag of fritos. And the janitor was a cafeteria monitor--you had to clean your plate and drink your 2-cent carton of milk. We called the ladies the "school cooks" in southern Illinois. Gotta love that midwestern small town sensibility.

                                                                                                                                                                              I attended K-12 from 1963-1975

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: DrJo

                                                                                                                                                                                peanut subsidy + sugar subsidy = sickeningly sweet government surplus peanut butter.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. My SO went to public school in France for two years and fondly remembers the tongue with tomato sauce. They usually had a pureed vegetable, rice, meat and a pudding. Other kids made fun of the food, but he secretly liked it.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. Oooh, the giant homemade cinnamon rolls. I completely forgot about those. Mmmmm. Also, peanut balls, which were probably peanut butter and honey, as previously mentioned.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. My junior high school had the best apple crisp as I remember it. I would go home and try to recreate it, which is what put me on the path to baking early on. I'm sure it was just canned apples, but the oatmeal crumbly top was so damned good.

                                                                                                                                                                                  It was so uncool to buy lunch when I was 12, but I loved it. People looked at me strangely "you're gonna eat that?" kind of looks, but it was divine.

                                                                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: corgette

                                                                                                                                                                                    Canned apples? There is such a thing?

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                      That's how people preserve their apples on the Prairies;) Canned apples are much tastier than a mealy apples that have been sitting around for a 6+ months.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                        Ahh, they're a Sysco staple that I've seen in school/summer camp kitchens. Not too bad, actually. They're best cooked with some sugar and cinnamon in a crumble or as a pancake topping of some sort.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Not as incredible as fragrant, fresh, farmer's market apples, but definitely better than some of the grocery store apples I've seen.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: corgette

                                                                                                                                                                                        The USDA School Cafeteria Apple Crisp recipe from 1988

                                                                                                                                                                                        Apple Crisp for 50 and 100 servings

                                                                                                                                                                                      3. Believe it or not, the best thing I had was at University High School in West Los Angeles back about 1960; Sloppy Joes served on hamburger buns, somewhat sweet with a tang to it, I have never been able to duplicate it.

                                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: malibumike

                                                                                                                                                                                          Oh, yes, I forgot to add sloppy joes to my list--just as you describe them.

                                                                                                                                                                                          And how are things in Mali, Mr Bumike? Been some time since I've seen one of your posts.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                            Shortbread/sugar cookies. The ones with three giant "finger prints". They were marketed here (Chicago) years later as "Schoolhouse Cookies" in individual packages but I haven't seen them for awhile.

                                                                                                                                                                                            They served instant mashed potatoes with everything. Even pasta.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. No-bake cookies, and apple crisp. I have found a couple of recipes for the cookies, but I'm afraid to try it, and ruin the memory.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Beans and cornbread. Birdwell Elementary, Tyler TX early 1960's. Everybody else liked the Frito Pie, but I was a purist, even then.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Cinnamon rolls. I attended elementary school in a small town in the Pacific Northwest in the sixties. Our cafeteria served food that was generally better than average, I suppose. The sloppy joes were a favorite, but nothing compared to the cinnamon rolls, made fresh from scratch. Unaccountably, they were served with a bowl of chili con carne (also made from scratch). The mystical connection between cinnamon rolls and chili persists to this day for me and many of my classmates.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Luwak

                                                                                                                                                                                                  They did the same thing at every school I ever went to! And I went to a few. It was always a cinnamon roll or cinnamon knot with the chili. I'm as mystified by it as you are.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I went to Catholic HS in Philadelphia in the 80's and brown-bagged it most days. But in the mornings they had the best vanilla and chocolate glazed donuts I've ever had. Every once in a while I smell fried dough and sugar and it takes me right back!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Weiner Toasties. A slice of buttered white bread wrapped around a hot dog and baked. Anyone in the Minneapolis school district in the 70's and 80's will remember these.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Tonka

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Didn't these also include a slice of surplus american cheese? At least at my outstate MN high school they did.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jules1026

                                                                                                                                                                                                        We did not have the american cheese. But that is a nice addition.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Tonka

                                                                                                                                                                                                        we had them In Waukesha, WI-mid 70's, they were called 'Weiner Winks' on our school menu. -no cheese

                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. Big cinnamon rolls! Some of us would spend our lunch money on those instead of the regular lunch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. peanutbutter & honey sandwiches. for some reason, we had them with chili and it's a good thing - the chili was vile.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. My hot lunches in middle school were horrific with the exception of Peanut Butter Fudge! As long as the corn relish in the tray (they were pre-packaged) didn't leak onto it. Even if it did we worked it out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            In HS, we mainly ate from the junk food line. Honeybuns, shakes, Hostess snacks, chips..... I think I ate hot lunch once in 4 years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I went to such a small high school that we didn't really have a school lunch program. Monday and Wednesdays was pizza from a local pizzeria, Tuesdays was nachos, Thursdays were McDonalds and Fridays (the BEST day) was chicken nuggets with rolls from a local grocery store. We would always run out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              My husbands answers: Chicken Patty Sandwiches! Processed chicken in a patty form served on a bun. Also, "Elsie's Pasta Bar". You could choose from 4 different types of pasta and 4 different sauces.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              These school lunches were in the 80's/90's in Connecticut. Funny enough, I now work in a school cafeteria as a Catering Coordinator. I get to experience all of the school lunches I missed out on while growing up!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I remember the pizza, rolls and the sugary peanut butter sandwiches served with chili.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I always loved their chicken a la king. It wasn't meant to be the main dish but I would always skip what ever the main protein was and put a big scoop of rice and chicken a l king on the tray. I also liked their grits for breakfast. I would get a bowl of grits and a pack of Jimmy Dean sausage biscuits.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Of course we complained at the time - but darn, they baked their own hamburger rolls! My brother works at a school cafeteria now, and you wouldn't believe how dreadful the food is (outa the box, into the fryer, onto the plate)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Our school lunch room served "chili, chips and cheese" which was a pile of fritos covered in canned chili and smothered in cheese sauce (not nacho sauce, this was of that consistency, but not spicy) God It was good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      They also served a thickish pizza with a side of tater tots. I wish they served tater tots at the school where I work now!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I went to school (K through first half semester of 6th grade) in Chicago. My school had no cafeteria. Lunch was eaten at home, Henry's Hamburgers, or some local coffee shop. It was quite the shock when I started school in the San Fernando Valley. I lived very close to home, about a five minute walk, but could not leave without a special dispensation from the principal. The best thing at my new school was a dish of roast beef chunks and gravy over mashed potatoes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In junior high it was something called spaghetti but it was really macaroni and beef. If you were too far back in line, it was sold out and wouldn't be served again for a month or more. My high school had the same dish. Same availability issues.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In college, the cafeteria manager was Greek and her specialty was something she called "Greek Burgers." They were served on a roll more substantial than a hamburger bun and was topped by a Greek salsa-like concoction

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. All girl Catholic HS in Biloxi MS my senior year, IIRC there was hot lunch on Fridays only. My introduction to po' boys and red beans & rice came from that experience!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Prior to that, Kaiserslautern American HS in Germany--K-town High Pizza Pie! My friends and I would figure out who had their last morning class closest to the cafeteria and they would bolt as soon as the bell rang to get a place in line because they'd sell out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It was mostly American food there but I seem to recall the occasional bratwurst on brotchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I must have had undeveloped taste buds back then but I thought about everything my school cafeteria served tasted good: flying saucers, spaghetti, pizza, chicken nuggets, open face turkey and gravy sandwiches, salisbury steak . . . and that stuff that looked like mashed potatoes until you stuck your fork in and realized it was some type of sticky rice. Or maybe I was just really hungry then????

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. My favorite school hot lunchs (in the 60's) were shepherd's pie and American Chop Suey.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I still make their version of shepherd's pie today: a layer of seasoned ground beef, a layer of corn, topped with mashed potatoes, and baked until the potatoes turned brown and crispy on top. Comfort Food at it's best. DW even requests it, tho she never had it until I served it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. For me, it was the yeast rolls. These are still the ones, by which all others will be judged. Yes, the palate was young, but they had everything right and they did them on large cookie sheets. Now, if only we had been provided with real butter! Heck, I might have stayed back a grade, or two.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The rest? Nothing that I'd ever want to encounter again.


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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Phantom reply Bill, but what wine did you enjoy with the rolls?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. There were these things they called "Bacon Burgers" It seemed to be finely ground up bacon, breaded and fried served on a bun, with shredded lettuce and some kind of sauce. Has anyone ever heard of these? Never saw it other then my late 70's HS years, at Union High, (NJ).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: michele cindy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yes I use to like them believe it or not and I use to be able to buy around here. I can't now if anyone knows where they can be purchased PLEASE let me know

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chope

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Seconded. I found Chowhounds today due to my semi-annual search for the elusive "bacon burger patty" from my grade school days. Just finding people who know what they are is closer than I have come in the last decade of searching.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Robertr

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Wow, this is starting to sound like a cult!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Clarkafella

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, cult of the faux (?) bacon burger. Someone just has to find out the recipe. Report back bacon burger searchers!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: chope

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Chope, It seems a bunch of us are on the quest for "Bacon Burgers" from our school daze. All our "Bacon Burger" posts are getting lost in this giant thread. I like the fact that a few have suggested that we are a cult..."Cult of the Faux Bacon Burger." (That's funny, Clarkafella.) Vermette's Market in Amesbury Mass. sold them until last year. I would buy 20 patties at a time and freeze them. I was recently told that "they," their source, stopped making them. I am still on the quest. I am glad to hear that the great "Bacon Burger" made it way to New Jersey schools during the 70's according to a prior post. Chope, were did you buy them from?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Sloppy Joes with potato chips, always hit the spot and Grilled Cheese and Tomato soup on Fridays and the ubiqutious seckel pears in the fall!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Slabs of sausage pizza. Only the sausage though, not cheese or pepperoni, it wasn't as good. It was a thin, slightly undercooked rectangle covered in this weird tasting cheese with ground sausage all over it (not pieces of sausage, but a layer of sausage). I distinctly remember dabbing at the pools of grease with a napkin, as if that made a difference. I crave that awful stuff to this day.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Stillwater Girl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Funny, when I was a kid in the 4th grade, this was a similar treat- those rectangles of pizza with exactly two slices of pepperoni on each. The crust tasted like Pillsbury breadsticks and was stuffed with cheese. Solid cheese, like slightly warm cheese sticks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Never have I had such good stuffed crust pizza! I've tried to make it, but that was a veritable log of cheese. I've never been able to emulate its greasy goodness!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. What immediately comes to mind is hot dogs or pork chops with very fragrant sauerkraut, it probably wasn't the best thing but it left an impression. This would have been at a boys school in the 60s, we had a wounded WW2 war veteran teacher who had special soy sauce (new to young me) provided for some dishes -- pork chops as I recall.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Later on, at a different school, the cafeteria had an annual meal with chitlins and collard greens -- that was a shocker.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Time, 1970s. Public school in southern Indiana.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Homemade bread pudding with cinnamon sauce. So very very good. Can't duplicate it even today. Must have been something about the huge quantities they made - large containers cooking up different than traditional home cookware. The cinnamon sauce (butter, sugar, cinnamon, "weeping" of the pudding) was quite runny - maddeningly so. I wanted to be able to get more of it to stick to each bite.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Midwest chili soup with spaghetti noodles (NOT Cincinnati chili). Either my 3rd grade teacher or I would remember to bring in a bottle of tabasco.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And served by nice ladies who it seemed liked kids.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Combo's. That's all I can remember liking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I grew up in the 80's and 90's in Ohio public schools. The food sucked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. The yeast donuts served at the student union cafeteria at Kansas State University in the 60's. Like Kryspy Kream fresh out of the cooker. Tthey made the mistake of placing them at the front of the line so we could jam down three or four and only pay for one!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I remember being in 5th grade and looking forward to middle school because they served pizza everyday instead of just Fridays. I loved that pizza, in retrospect it was pretty gross. Rectangular shaped slices cut from a giant sheet pan, plastic-y cheese with paste-like sausage/sauce combination underneath. Usually with a french fries and fruit cocktail as my "vegetables."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In high school we had Domino's pizza delivered daily, $2/slice. Starting in 11th grade we were allowed to leave campus for lunch (w/ parental permission and good grades), and I rarely ate cafeteria food after that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In college the food was reasonably good for mass-produced institutional food. My favorite was the stir-fry bar - basically a Mongolian-BBQ style counter, pick whatever vegetables you want from the mini salad bar then hand the plate to the cook and tell him what protein and sauce you wanted. I had that for lunch 3-4 times a week, to the point that the cook and I were on a first name basis and he knew my "usual." The desserts were also very good, especially the hand scooped ice cream bar featuring Breyer's. Is it any wonder kids gain weight their first year away?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. A 60 cent pastrami sandwich, in the same vein but (IIRC, it was a long time ago) much better than Johnnies or the Hat here in SoCal. Very thin sliced on a french roll with mustard and lots of sap. A couple of those and an ice cream sandwich made my day. 60 cents was a lot of dough back in the mid 60's so I guess that $9.00 for the same thing ( but inferior) today isn't unreasonable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. The best thing at my high school's cafeteria was the shepherd's pie and the poutine! The chow mein was horrible *shudders*

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Iowa in the 70's; relatively large junior and high school. After reading all of this I realized that I cannot remember one single thing I ate for lunch in six years. I do remember having a glazed doughnut and chocolate milk almost every single day for breakfast in high school. Senior year we left campus every day for lunch - those were the good old days. It's was McD's or Shakey's Pizza buffet almost every day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. In elementary school, in Burbank CA, (in the mid 70's) our school made fantastic chocolate chip cookies. Warm and fresh, we'd run down as soon as the bell rang, to make sure we got them! Sloppy Joes were always good, as well. I still mainly took lunch from home, tho

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Junior high, once a week on Fridays, we got Taco Bell! That was the only day worth eating there, as the cafeteria's food was just BLECH.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          High school for me was an open campus, so we could eat all the horrid fast food we could manage. BUT! Going for breakfast was really good, they did a great french toast, and the cookies were still good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yup, we had some cranky lunch ladies at our place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Cheese enchiladas w/ red chile sauce, Mexican rice, fideo.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Toasted raisin bread with real butter. I always got the end pieces and asked for them well toasted. Mmmmmmm. The only other thing that was any good was the mashed potatoes -- real with actual lumps (though possibly topped up with instant). I lived on fries and gravy back then, though. Maybe that's why I still don't mind dark brown gravy from a mix.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This was in the mid-'70s. My junior high cafetorium had rubber fries that they brought in already cooked, and hockey puck burgers on stale buns. Ate the fries anyway...but wouldn't touch those burgers. The best thing in that little servery was a bag of potato chips.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. 60s - Catholic elementary school, low budget, no cafeteria, brought our own.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  60s - Public Junior High, cafeteria food, tater tots, salisbury steak, etc, I had no taste so I ate it all, except the fish.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  69 - 72; High School - open campus. Went to Carrols every day with a g/f for grilled cheese and a soda. The low, tiled roof of the cafeteria was covered with those little square cardboard mats that butter pats came on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. From elementary school, I vividly recall mashed potatoes w/ flourescent yellow gravy that I liked a lot. (But am disturbed by now!) Also the BEST mexican pizza, shaped like an octagon w/ cheese that was a very unnatural shade of orange.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kb8240

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Every Friday our elem. school cafeteria rotated the menu serving either rectangular slices of sausage pizza or those octagons - they were called "fiestadas".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. 'Best' is not necessarily appropriate, as I don't recall anything being really good in any way. I think I probably had something close to 500 tuna salad sandwiches in my Bayside, New York high school cafeteria. It's the only thing I remember......... had pickles in it. Mines much better these days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. SoCal, San Gabriel Valley, elementary school in the 60s... tacos! They were actually quite similar to the Jack in the Box tacos, very greasy but oh so good! I still remember getting the monthly cafeteria menu and circling the days that they served tacos. Otherwise, I brought my lunch in my cute little Barbie lunchbox. High school in the 70s... our cafeteria served the best "peanut butter chews", a delicious, peanutty, slightly greasy concoction made of corn flakes and peanut butter, etc. , (think rice krispy square). They also had terrific chocolate chip cookies. I had one every day... aah, memories!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I grew up in SoCal-I used to volunteer to work in the cafeteria on Chicken Fried Steak day, so I could eat as much of that and the mashed potatos that it came with. (This was strictly in elementary school-I wouldn't be caught dead working in the cafeteria in HS) My HS actually made the cafeteria a no mans land, because not only were we allowed to leave campus for lunch (the beach was about 1/2 mile away), but they also had Pizza Hut and Subway on campus. And Taco Bell too, I think.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I once walked through the school kitchen right before lunch and there wa a 20-gal steam jacketed kettle full of cherry pie filling. I wanted to jump in.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In a word, pizza burgers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Elementary school cafeteria in the late 50s: they made huge pans of berry cobbler with thick crumbly crust on top. I volunteered in the cafeteria so I could have extra.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Home(school)Made Rhode Island Clam Chowder for 5Cents............
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Most school lunches were pretty bad, but in Jr High School there was one cook who made all the soups from scratch. At that time 1966-8 a full Type A Hot lunch was 35 cents, but soup was 5 cents ala carte.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                So, on Fridays I'd spend my 35 cents for 7 cups of chowder.................
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It was heaven.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The other really good edible was the spaghetti in meat sauce. The on-site made Boognese was better than most I've had since. Turns out the cook worked days at the school for the health benefits for her family and cooked noghts and weekends at her familiy's Italian Restaurant on Wooster Street in New Haven.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In grade school, we went home for lunch, no cafeteria. Whe I got to High School, everything cam from a central commisary and NOTHING was edible.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ""So, on Fridays I'd spend my 35 cents for 7 cups of chowder.................
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It was heaven."""

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  a true young chowhound!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. My initial reaction was "nothing", but I did manage to remember a few gems. My elementary school in PA had a breakfast pizza on French bread that I crave to this day (about 20 years later). It was just sausage, cheese, and some kind of white sauce, but it was delicious. My elementary school in FL gets a nod for always having good salads with your choice of ham, tuna, or turkey. Middle school in CT was largely disappointing, but they always had some kind of soup, and most of them were decent. High school had a great veggie lasagna. Pretty short highlights list for 12 years of my life...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I replied last November re: donuts at college but I got to thinking when this popped up again. In the 40's, Overland Park Grade School served, I think on Thursdays, chipped beef on toast and creamed spinach with little pieces of egg in it. Nobody really liked the chipped beef and everyone despised the creamed spinach. I really liked the beef and I LOVED the spinich. Because I was the only one that liked that stuff, I ate like a king. Everybody gave me some of their beef and all of their spinach! Those were good times.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: SonyBob

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        SB, funny. When I think of grade school lunches, the chipped beef stands out in my memories too, along with the square pizza. Maybe it was WWII chipped beef stored in the caves, since
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I went to Roesland and then Old Mission and SMN a good 10-15 years later and they were stilll serving it. I remember the spinich with hard boiled eggs too.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We too had fish on Friday. Cathoic strongholds!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bbqboy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I graduated from SMN in 1960. Think Allen's after school for french fries and cruising Winsteads (cherry limeaids and frosties). Oh yeah, Smacks and Hank Bauers, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bbqboy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I went to Marsha Bagby in Leawood, late 60's, early 70's - square pizza, chocolate cake, spaghetti. I remember the scoops of mashies and iridescent yellow gravy too. I worked in the kitchen for free lunches and the LL were great. Mrs. Yergzees and others would let the workers eat whatever they wanted and big candy cane sticks at Christmas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. The grilled cheese and even that wasn't very good. The funny thing was that all of the white bread sandwiches were on the hot tray with the cafeteria lady behind. If you asked for whole wheat, she'd pick one out and flip it over onto your plate. The back side of the sandwich was whole wheat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This was LA beach cities, second half of the 70's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I remember liking cafeteria food up till about junior high, after which things got mediocre to downright gross. The one thing that springs instantly to mind, though, is the yeast rolls. I used to sneak into the lunchroom during recess to do some light chores in exchange for one right out of the oven. MMMmmm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I went to school in central NJ in the mid/late 60's. The school cafeteria lunches we had were actually of quite good quality in general, since they didn't resort to instant potatoes, or heavily processed food in general. It was good, wholesome, home-style food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              But the standout I best remember is the once or twice a month Wednesday spaghetti lunch. Now, I know spaghetti doesn't sound special, but the meat sauce they served on the pasta was extraordinarily good... made fresh on premises and incredibly delicious...and every bit as good as the best ragu bolognese I've ever had in ANY good Italian restaurant (and better than some of them).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Can't remember too much about my school food.The only thing I do recall is the enchiladas at James madison Elementary School in San Antonio.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Wendsdays were always mexican food days,but I love the enchiladas the best,still do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Milk. They sold milk and that was all that was edible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. High school: St. John's, Newfoundland: best beef burgers EVER with really great, greasily, delicious grilled onions...man, our breath must have blown away the first teacher we faced after lunch on burger day!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  University: Victoria College (U of Toronto) Wymilwood cafeteria: the most delicious mince pie (my husband who I met in that cafeteria) tells me it was just at Christmas, but I remember eating it every day of my university life and remaining 115 lbs!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LJS

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I grew up in Northern California and went to an elementary school with less than 300 kids. The lunch ladies used to make turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy from scratch once a month. Yum.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My younger sister ended up going to a very small (under 200) private elementary school in SF years later and she used to rave about their homemade pizzas in the cafeteria. Her 5th grade class even had a cheese making seminar with someone's parent and made fresh mozellera for their pizza day once.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: calalilly

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      calalilly, i'd forgotten about the turkey dinners! i grew up in s.w. florida, and our lunch ladies were good southern cooks. i can still eat a turkey, dressing, gravy and taters dish any time of the year. it makes me happy! (esp. with some wiggly cranberry jelly).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. No bake cookies (melted butter/cocoa/peanut butter/sugar/oats all stirred together) and apple crisp. I don't know why I though the apple crisp was so good, but it's still my benchmark for good apple crisp. Also, they had remarkably good turkey/chicken stuffing. It was really light, and kind of souffle like.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      dang, now i'm cravin' turkey and dressing!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Alkapal, now I am too! I even just tried to search for a restaurant in my area that would service it this time of year, but I think I'm out of luck unless I get my better half to make it for me this weekend!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Oh lordy, I loved the apple crisp at my school cafeteria, too! I have no idea how they did it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. Soft, gooey snickerdoodle cookies (sugar & cinnamon). I wish I had a nickel for every lunch I had in middle/high school of snickerdoodles and chocolate milkshakes (nothing else!). What a complete, balanced meal!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. In elementary school, it was haystacks (tortilla chips and various toppings) and baked potatoes. High school my favourites were pizza (greasy and delicious), and vegetarian corn dogs (they were really sweet).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Each day a different class sold lunch to raise money for that class's various projects and field trips.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Meatloaf and gravy bread

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Growing up in NYC in the 80's, I always looked forward to lunchtime in elementary school. My parents would never let me have anything but chinese food under their control, but school was fine as long as it was free.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My favorites:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              fried chicken
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "Boat" pizza/ round pizza
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              sloppy joes with taco shell on the side
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              buttered rice
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              beef stew!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              breaded chicken parmigan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              tator tots
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              beef patty
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              old fashion donuts

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I wished my school serve soup but they never did.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Public elementary school in L.A. in the 50's... Definitely the great big sugar cookies. They were delicious! I think we called them Flying Saucers. Then I went to Catholic school, and there was no cafeteria at all. Oh, how I missed those cookies!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. LOL, I can barely remember anything served in my h.s. cafeteria. I always looked forward to pizza day. What I often think about is what they served in my college cafeteria. A lot of times we needed help identifying the food, so I was more than happy to make a dinner of Captain Crunch cereal and ice cream!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. All of us "idiots" searching the web for school cafe food that we loved and still remember should write/contribute to a book. I went to school in Mass., and I crave a few recipes that appear to be "lost." I read other postings from around the globe and it appears to be the same case. A regional school cafe recipe book seems to be in order. Just a thought.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: calalilly


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This school recipe resource will help you get started!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Perhaps what is more appealing is a school cafe recipe book with portions adjusted!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Chocolate concrete. Spam fritters started out good, then became a little too much.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Hot Chocolate...made by Nestle...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Oh their roasted lemon potatoes were great...I'm not sure it's two dollars great though. Their scalloped potatoes weren't bad either...but they only served it with the main (which usually sucked) and hamburger toppings they called a salad with this watery crap they called a ranch dressing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And this is why most of the students rather brave the Canadian winter and eat at...McDonalds...=/, that was the better alternative.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. McIntosh Junior High, Sarasota FL, early '70's..Fridays were my favorite day, fish filets, cheese grits (loved them) and the best biscuits..dense, flat things that for some reason I just adored. I usually would have 2 or more since nobody seemed to like them. I also have fond memories of the pre-holiday turkey lunches...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Wednesday was chili beans with whole wheat French bread baked especially at the local bakery. Yummy and healthy too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I remember good food in my 1970's Polish grammar/middle school combo (1-8grade), no cafeteria in HS-you brought your own sandwiches.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I remember several big, scary looking ladies,dressed in white cotton uniforms. But boy, did they cook well. They made homemade soups (sour pickle and tomato were the best), pierogi, various noodles, roasted chickens, to die for goulash and one of our favorites-hard boiled eggs in sweet and sour dill gravy with mashed potatoes. But what really stands out in my memory is a plate of mashed potatoes with kidneys in gravy. The best I would ever have in my life so far....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. it was made clear by my stay at home mom that she was not into making lunches for me to take to school..so, meal tickets here I come.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  80s/90s midwestern suburb
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  They had the un PC "g****** grinder" on the menu! Can you believe that. Not sure if I can say that word on Chow.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My New England mother told me never to say that word, but why would it be on the lunch menu, I wondered? It was a favorite of mine, racist or not.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Also fav's - steak fingers, roasted chicken, and the salad bar (I loaded my plate w/ cottage cheese, ranch dressing, ham cubes, and cucumbers)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We never had dessert as it was extra cost ..cookies were not included. Sad!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: stellamystar

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Elementry school, They made Texas goulash. It was good. Never heard of it outside that school in Irving Texas. High school, Fried burritos.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: stellamystar

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      stella, now i'm wondering....what is g*******? gonads? goolies?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        alkapal it's an old (and AFAIK little used)derogatory name for a person of Italian decent... (ok even I can't type it) in another context it's a small furry animal bigger than a hamster called a "G_______ Pig"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: maplesugar

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I thought it was a word that rhymed with Bingo!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: maplesugar

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            i had to think hard, because growing up in sw florida, we were limited in the ethnic slurs (i can only think of two that i heard -- and not in my family --).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            i wonder how the term "guinea" came to be a slur of italians, anyhow? ah...let us refer to the "racial slur database." http://racialslurs.org/search?q=immig... """Pronounced "gi-nee." Came from "Guinea Negro" and originally referred to any Black or any person of mixed ancestry. This dates back to the 1740's. By the 1890s it was being applied to Italians--almost certainly because they tend to have darker skin than Anglo-Saxons/Germans. By 1911 the term began being applied to Hispanics, although the reference to Italians is the most common. Derived from Sicilian immigrants who paid in Italian currency, Guineas. Used in the film 'True Romance' as separate from WOPs from Northern Italy, and in The Godfather by a Northern Italian character when referring to Southern Italians and Sicilians.""""

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            a-may-zing!!!! do people still use these terms?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            stella, re-reading your post, i'm quite astonished that they actually wrote "guinea grinder" ON THE SCHOOL MENU???!!!!! wow! and that was in the '80s and '90s? in "enlightened" (cough cough ;-) new england? wow again!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              She said her mom was from New England, but she went to school in a Midwestern suburb. It's kind of funny actually, because I'm Midwestern, about the same age, and that's a term I never heard used. My neighborhood was heavily Italian, and there were some derogatory terms, but that was not one of them. In fact, I don't think I've ever heard anyone say it--I've read it sure, but never heard it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: lulubelle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                lulubelle, thanks for the correction. i think the ethnic slurs would've been more prevalent in cities (vs. small towns), where there was a diverse ethnic population. maybe that's why i didn't hear much of that business growing up, either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In Des Moines there are many Italian restaurants that feature a guinea grinder on the menu, though in recent years some have changed this to Italian grinder. These are restaurants that are owned by Italian Americans, people I know personally.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This goes back to Jeannie DePhillips (of Italian descent tho her name appears anglicized), a local restauranteur now deceased, who introduced the sandwich to the masses at the Iowa State Fair. It remains a favorite there, though since her death it has been renamed the Jeannie Grinder.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I can only assume she used the name as a way to take the sting out of the slur by using it herself similar to the way African Americans use the N-word. Perhaps it worked. In all the years I lived in the area I never heard the G-word used to describe a person, only a sandwich.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: tullius

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And...we're back. I took a chowhound break for like...a year.... Tullius wins this one!- this lovely grinder was on the West Des Moines School menu in 1987. True story.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. without a doubt, the cigarettes I bummed from the cafeteria ladies

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cassoulady

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You know those boneless rib shaped ground mystery meat patties, served on a hoaggie. Damn those were good! I think my palette wouldn't agree today, but back in highschool, they kicked ass.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Wow! Thought I was the only crazy that STILL craved food from my high school cafeteria...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Cheese pizza slice with salsa verde on top- my school made a great cheese slice and my friends and I started adding the salsa verde to it... The tangy bite of the sauce really complimented the greasy goodness of the cheese...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I was a cheerleader and we practiced after school. So we would get the hot chocolate chip cookies baked for the next day and put a scoop of raw cookie dough on top. The dough would melt like icing! So good!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Home made rolls: big, plump, tender...tasted like giant Parker House rolls. Five cents each, baby! Uhmmmm :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Deli sandwhichs! We'd get to choose our own cold cuts,and rolls. It was heaven. We'd line up around the block on deli day!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. 1960's-'70's Southeast Ga, elementary school at recess (any one remember recess?) they sold homemade popsicles, they were either orange or grape juice (the real thing) frozen in small paper dixie cups with sticks in them. Everyone loved the sloppy joes; I've tried again and again to replicate with no luck. Other recurring favorite foods in this thread, our sweet rolls and yeast rolls were to die for.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Absolutely HATED the homemade pizzas though-- thick, limp crust, CHEDDAR CHEESE (didn't melt properly) and hamburger meat. [shudder!]
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Junior high school, I didn't eat lunch at all. Only options were the school food or brown bag, we attended a very remote rural school. I was told someone found a pantyhose tag in the Shepard's pie, I couldn't force myself to even go into the lunchroom there!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                High school, one of my favs was some kind of stew beef and gravy over rice. I don't know how they got the meat soooo tender, but it was always very good.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I was considered weird, I liked the stewed prunes and the limp salad (iceburg lettuce and tomatoes with mayonnaise dressing)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. My husband reminded me to add the homemade peanut butter cookies, yum! And the school lunchroom was the first place I encountered rice krispy treats, wow!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Kirkwood, Missouri, early to late 1960s, elementary and middle school:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    First off, the expression "cafeteria lady arms" came from the the ladies who served us
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    and who always had so much loose flesh on the underside of their arms that it literally swang to and fro while dishing food items.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    the *definitive* macaroni and cheese -- lots of extra sauce on top browned under the broiler.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is what I am for everytime when I make it, although with gourmet ingredients.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    tater tots
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    mashed potatoes with a well of brown gravy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    shepherd's pie
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    sloppy joes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Mississippi Mud cookies -- chocolate cookies with oats, crushed pretzels, etc. Probably a refrigerator cookie.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    canned peaches and canned pears

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. i had the same thing every single day for 3 years in HS.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, corn, 2 rolls and a 2% milk for $1.60

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. In the early 70's the best thing my elementary school served up was creamed turkey over mashed potatoes. Mmm. My older sister, already the gourmand, was in junior high and missed the meal. She had me get the recipe, so the cafeteria lady pared down the recipe to serve 64! Foolishly, I handed over the recipe to my sister and it has vanished from my world.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I brought my lunch since my Italian family didn't believe that there could be anything worth eating in the school cafeteria, but the one thing I did buy was dessert, and my favorite thing that they seemed to have almost every day was Boston Cream Pie. It was delicious with a shiny chocolate ganache-like frosting on top.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. A grilled plain bagel (that was about as greasy and buttery as something can be) with bacon and cheese. It was a wonderfully unhealthy way to start the day and of the 500 kids who went to the school, I'd say at least half had that for breakfast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Elementary School was chicken and biscuits. Just shredded chicken, gravy and homemade biscuits. The two women who were the cooks cooked the chcken and made the gravy. (I went to an elementary school with less than 50 kids, so pretty much everything was really homemade).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              High School - Ham Boy (some kind of reconstituted ham patty) on a bun with tater tots.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Looking back, I'd still love some of my elementary school food; the high school stuff wasn't very good at all.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Shann

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Funny lately i've been thinking a lot about the yeast rolls my school made & how to reproduce them. They were the kind that filled the trays touching each other so the sides were crustless & they rose SO high!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Younger folks missed out. I hear school lunches are all processed foods reheated now days. But in the beginnings of the hot lunch program there were giant bags of flour, huge blocks of cheese, & other commodities. The cooks were mainly our mothers. Sure we had more than our share of pigs in a blanket but the blanket was made from scratch & there was always a great dessert.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I grew up in a neighborhood filled with 2nd generation Italians, Mexicans, Czechs & Poles so we had some great lunches that introduced me to a range of cuisines.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. London South Secondary School, London, Ont., Canada, early 1970's. Red jello with Cool Whip. "Diet" plate with cottage cheese and canned fruit. Other food was decidedly unmemorable - they managed to produce the only french fries I ever met that I didn't like (drowned in ketchup and giving off a nasty smell). I used to brown bag it almost all the time - my mom was a great cook and we were not exactly rollong in dough.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. In grade school in the '60's, almost everything was good when we had an on-site cafeteria. I especially remember the "swiss steak" and macaroni and cheese. In one high school, we had wonderful cooks who made really good "Hillbilly" food (pinto beans, green beans, chicken and dumplings, stewed tomatoes) and--best of all--enormous, buttery potato flour rolls the size of a salad plate, for a nickel!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The two schools where the food was either bused in on hospital style trays (YUCK. Everything was cold but the milk was, strangely, warm) or pre-processed (pizza, tator tots, the whole nasty FDA menu hit my senior year of high school) were bad memories, otoh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. The very best thing any school cafeteria I've ever eaten in served was sloppy joes when I was in the 7th and 8th grade. FANTABULOUS!!! Then the lady who made the filling didn't work there any more when I reached the 9th grade. A very sad thing. I have tried a gazillion recipes, every sloppy joe mix and can on the market, and nothing in this world approaches those. Like everything else from my youth, things are plowed under, dug up, paved over, torn down, rebuilt, and NOTHING is right any more. <sigh> Maybe someday I'll go to Sloppy Joe heaven... '-)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I share your frustration, as I have tried in vain to really duplicate my Mom's simple dish of "Swiss steak"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It is possible that a tweak yet to be considered is the grade and size of the grind of the beef? Since it was a commodity based program, could the chewy texture have been provided by a "utilty" or "canner" grade of ground meat? And could the grind have been very coarse?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Try this just one time, to keep the chalice of the holy grail suspended over your kitchen: Ask the butcher to grind a few pounds of a "select" grade round, and to grind it as "chili meat" (the 3/8 inch plate on the grinder}.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I hope youi'll email me regarding this somewhat common quest twixt Swiss steak and Sloppy Joes. I am phonetically challenged, and cannot extract your email from your profile. Mine is a cut and paste.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hope to hear from you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. college. Defrosted frozen sugary strawberries mixed with canned pineapple chunks or sliced banana.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. In Dallas during the late 50's, the best Boston cream pie and fresh made white rolls. Everyone made pigs of themselves with these.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Plain, but very yummy cheeseburgers and the most amazing, yet common tater tots. Have not found anything outside to match this winning combo. So simple, and yet so darn good!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: nooyawka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I remember the chocolate chip cookies and yeast rolls from the high school where I taught. I asked one of the cooks to give me the recipes and she did. :) :) :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I went to a VERY small high school everything was scratch there. Their chicken fried steak, homemade mashed potatos and gravy, and their divine rolls come to mind. I loved the Frito pie and salisbury steak. All of the cookies were good. don't get me started on the ranger cookies. The lasagna was surprisingly good even thought they put cheddar in it. I still dream about the veggie soup and hot ham and cheese sandwiches wrapped in sheets of foil. I think the very best thing they served was the peach cobbler.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Having gone to school in Japan, I was blessed with perfectly balanced school lunches everyday (no substitutions allowed; everyone got the same exact thing).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I can't pick the "best" but the most interesting, I believe, would be whale steak.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. i recall the line for school lunch would be very long on 2 days only, first primo pizza day (a local pizza shop once a month on fridays, the other fridays would be the square pizza) and second on wednesdays with chicken ranchero day - a fried chicken patty, bacon, american cheese and on the side for you to put on yourself ranch dressing in a vat, lettuce and tomato. the sides switched but the best was oven baked mac and cheese - best lunch ever!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Tough question as everything was good at Kamehameha school in Hawaii. From kindergarten to 12th grade. It was sit down at a round table during the 50 and 60's. Now it's cafeteria style.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A Main dish, A vegetable dish, A starch dish with bread and butter and dessert, milk, water. Said a prayer before sitting down. Freshman were waiters, seniors were the head of the table and served the main dish. Watched our manners. Sophmores and Juniors rotated to help in the kitchen.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Stew, sukiyaki, spagetti, chicken, fish, meat loaf, hawaiian food, peach cobbler with hard sauce, brownies, pie, cake. Tough staying awake in class after lunch whether it was 1st or 2nd sitting.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Anybody got a recipe for hard sauce???
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Now days, don't know how kids in public school can eat the junk they are served.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Went to San Diego public schools in the early 80s and while most of the food was forgettable, they did serve this one dessert that was called a maple peanut bar. It was a peanut butter blondie or bar cookie, no chunky nuts or anything, topped with a maple glaze frosting. It was the best thing ever, and I would relish that with my plain carton of milk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have yet to find a bar cookie that can meet the standard of that maple bar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. this was in L.A., or Sherman Oaks, to be precise. something called a sweet bread - it was a giant square of a bready-thing, dripping with butter and icing, and served warm. not at all like a cinnamon roll, tho.... kind of looked like a foccacia (tho i didn't know about foccacia in 7th grade!) covered in sugar and butter. every morning. followed up by my standard lunch of bbq chips, a brownie and a coke, it's a wonder i've made it this far.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Taco Dog! A flour tortilla with a foot long hot dog and salsa for a quarter.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Strawberry pie
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Chocolate cookies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This was all in Southern California.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Oh - and the Taco Dog has it's own facebook page!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. In high school, we had cookie break between 3rd and 4th periods. Instead of the usual 5 minute passing time, we had 10 minutes. The cafeteria sold homemade cookies and milk. My favorite were the peanut butter. They had chunks of peanuts in them. The butter cookies were also wonderful... real butter, no margarine!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: lindainwi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Boy, they wouldn't be handing those out nowadays! Where did all the peanut allergies come from I wonder, I never knew of such a thing when I was a kid.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              for real. peanut allergies? heck, peanuts were everywhere when i was growing up, and nobody seemed to be having attacks. what *is* the deal with "peanut allergies" in this younger generation, jaggery tart?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ya got me. Heebiejeebies in the drinking water? The only person I've ever actually known to have a peanut allergy is my nephew, who is now 25. It's really bad, as a little guy if you ate anything with the slightest whiff of peanut about it and kissed him on the cheek he would get a kiss-shaped welt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think I knew just one child with a peanut allergy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't remember anyone with peanut allergies when I was a kid. At our school we had either mac and cheese or fish sticks on Fridays. Every Friday however there were mounds of peanut butter sandwiches. You could eat as many of them as you wished. It sounds fairly strange now (and possible back when I was in grade school) but I would take my fish sticks and put them inside my peanut butter sandwich. My brothers gave away their fish sticks and ate only the peanut butter sandwiches.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Peanut Butter Cookies are still on the menu list

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Peanut Butter Cookies for 50 and 100 servings from 1988

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thank you, Antilope! I have been searching for this recipe for decades! :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. Thought I was jealous of UConn having a real Blimpie until I went to UMass last year for freshman year...every single dessert and bread, baked daily. Best was the chocolate mascarpone cheesecake. Buffalo chicken dip as a treat once in a blue moon. From 9-11 every night, freshly made treats- make your own omelette bar, corn dogs, fresh cut fries, hamburger grinders...really good stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Going to 9 schools in 3 states to finish the 12 years, I sadly really only have one cafeteria stand-out. In the early 70's in BFE (a/k/a McAlester), OK we regularly had what I now call soul food day. It was always beans (with ham hock), spinach, and corn bread and always delicious, especially with a liberal amount of sport pepper vinegar shaken over everything.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  They did, funnily, also have, by far, the most heinous offering. Did anyone else ever have the magic color-shifting "chameleon" dogs? Pink and appetizing looking on the outside and dead flat grey looking on the inside. *bleh* Even my 7-8 year old self knew to stay far, far away from those suckers!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. My JH cafeteria made a layered pseudo shortcake dessert with angel food cake, strawberry jello, frozen strawberries, and a whipped topping. I LOVED the stuff!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I went to elementary school outside of Houston, Tx in the early 90's, I dont remember much about the food except Frito Pie and Fried Okra. Frito pie is hard to mess up but the Okra was horrible, mushy on the inside with a crust that was so hard it almost cracked your tooth to bite into it. It has not been until very recently that I am able to eat propoerly made fried Okra, and now I love it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I stopped eating the cafeteria food about 2 weeks after starting junior high. I didn't brown bag it either. Believe it or not, there was a concession stand at the school and you could buy junk food like Twinkies, ice cream bars and chips, so that's what I did. My favorite cafteria food prior to that was something called pizza burgers. It really wasn't a burger but a meat, cheese and tomato filling spread on both halves of hamburger buns and toasted in the oven. I remember copying the recipe down from the chalkboard in about the 4th grade. I bet if I looked through my mother's old recipes I could find it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. School lunch was actually palatable (though plain) when I was in elementary school, and then two things happened: my family made enough money so that my mother could catch the gourmet wave that was crashing on American shores at the time; and the quality of school lunch began to slide. By middle school, I was brown-bagging it or presenting a permission slip from my mother so I could buy from the supermarket deli near the school. (She had me type up a stack of them and signed them as needed.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          But there was one item which charmed me at a very early age, which I still love: cottage fries.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. http://www.nfsmi.org/ResourceOverview... These are the actual recipes that the school cafeterias used back in the 1950's through the 1980's. Click on alphabetical order. These are the actual recipes Liza Starkey and the other lunch ladies used in the school cafeteria. The yeast rolls, peanut butter bars and a few other recipes I have made. They bring back alot of memories.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: peanut butter bars

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks Penut Butter, I have been looking for my High Schools 1960 Sloppy Joe recipe for a long time and this sounds like it, I will try it next week when we get rid of all our turkey.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: peanut butter bars

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                shepherd's pie! beef stroganoff. chicken a la king. sloppy joes. spice cake. what memories, indeed! there are many new latin american dishes that i never had growing up in the 60's. we did have cuban sandwiches, though (s.w. florida). there was a lot more local control over -- and regional variation in -- school food back then.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                thank you, peanut butter bars!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: peanut butter bars

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks penut butter, the sloppy joes recipe was right on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Three Phases.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Elementary school (Philly Public): mom always packed just what I liked--some lunchmeat on white or rye bread with mustard, fruit and a cookie.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Junior High (Philly Public): food was so bad I literally chipped a tooth on a salami sandwich. After that, I went AWOL and to home for lunch (right across the street). I would amble back to the playground afterward, but even when I was caught and given detention, it was worth it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  High School (Philly Catholic all girls): I still crave the fries--just the right salt to grease balance; skinny, crispy on the outside and mealy on the inside. One serving of those salty fries was a meal. Also the "warm cheese": white American in a kaiser roll wrapped in foil and broiled until bubbling. French bread pizza with meat toppings Mon-Thurs, plain on Friday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  For reasons discussed on other boards, I don't do milkshakes, but everyone at my table loved the chocolate milkshakes as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Needless to say, this was in the era when we all went out and played 3-4 hours a day. No such thing as PCs, laptops, etc. . . .We burned it all off. Even in high school we walked\biked 3-4 miles per day at least.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I attended elememtary school in the 50's. Mrs. Wurtenburg was our cafeteria manager. The best meal was a loose ground beef and onions in gravy on mashed potatoes. But the best part of the meal was a yeast role that was so light and soft and hot that it would melt in your mouth. We could smell the rolls baking in the morning at recess just before lunch and we would be Jonesing for lunch to get there. Yum! I knew her before she died she told me that they made everything from scatch each day. I quess that was before powdered potatoes became more commonly used in school cafeterias. The Salisbury steak was my second favorite. But the yeast rolls with the floured tops were the best. If you were in the 6th grade which got served last, we could get 2nds too!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Oh, man. I'm glad this thread was revived, as I'm feeling particularly bored and nostalgic this week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Kindergarten and first grade, the school I went to in New York state had these wonderful knishes. Loved them. I was still relatively new to the country and McDonald's was definitely still a special treat, so knishes were so special. I haven't had one in over a decade. Methinks I should soon...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      One of the favorite things my friends and I loved to share in 7th and 8th grade were the cheese fries with the McDonalds-like fries and the fake, yellow, gelatinous cheese. Man, I remember that stuff being SO delicious. It was also 20 cents more for the cheese, which we'd always ask for on the side instead of over the fries so whoever got the cheese could share and everyone would dip their fries in. I wish I knew what fake cheese the schools use and if restaurants near me use it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In college, it was all Aramark food, of course. But I loved the fried chicken patties (had to be deep-fried, of course!) with the weird, kind of translucent mayo that tasted so good with the chicken patties on a hamburger bun. Those were the main attraction during lunch for all the meat-eaters on campus. The Latino cooks would often cook foods they were good at, though. I remember great (pork) carnitas (actually deep-fried) that were so flavorful and tender. Some fairly good arroz con pollo, and huevos rancheros. They were, of course, limited to what they could make with what they got from Aramark, but most of the stuff was pretty good for cafeteria grub.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: yfunk3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Oh... you had to go and open it up to college cafeteria food! We had two cafeterias on campus, one relatively new with a pasta, salad, waffle, pizza and stir fry bars (my go-to for lunch), plus a grill and steam trays with daily specials. The other wasn't so new, and left hair and clothes smelling like burnt onions. The best foods by far were desserts. They offered a sinful peanut butter bar - a chocolate chip bar cookie with a thick layer of peanut butter, then topped with chocolate fudge icing. About once a month they would set up a flambe station and serve either cherries jubilee, crepe suzette, or bananas foster (my favorite).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I'm going to just jump right in here and admit that I'm probably the only one who named this as their favorite school cafeteria food, but once or twice a week, my (elementary school) cafeteria would serve canned plums and/or apricots for dessert. (I can still see all those tiny white, institutional bowls filled with at least two entire canned plums just waiting for me at the end of the lunch line)!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: wrldsworstcook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I loved those plums, too. I look for them whenever I go to a new grocery store. Haven't found them locally yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. "veal" patty with an ice cream scoop of super sticky rice and gravy. (insert Homer Simpson drooling sound here: X)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I was lucky enough to grow up in a small town where the food was made from scratch, not sent in by Aramark or Cysco. The lunch ladies had hairnets and moles, and chubby elbows, and their joy in life was feeding usn's. Top-shelf items were lumberjack stew (this was loggin' fishin' town, folks) which was big chunks of browned sirloin, potatoes onions and corn in gravy - that was GREAT. Even better, the homemade apple crisp: I've never been able to replicate it: buttery, oatmealy, crunchy and nutty; over apples that were juicy and still a little crunchy too. Seconds were always available; yeast rolls and butter were on tap. Then I got to high school where we had "the snack shak" although we did still have the option of cafeteria dining because the grade school was just across the street and we could "sneak over" and get food any day of the week from these lovely ladies who knew our birthdates, our parents, our life histories, and our preferences. Always a better alternative than the ubiquitous hot-dog/french fry/grilled cheese options they doled out at the shack.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Awww, and here I thought it was the elbow imagery that would incite you to a spot of poetry!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ahh, the hairnetted ladies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                who fed all us babies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                and wore super-strength pantyhose
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                they served the good food
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                and were always at the ready (with a rag)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                for the kid who barfed milk out his nose. ; )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The "Lunch-Lady" stands tall as an Icon in our puberty
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  of same as the strength of the Tower of Liberty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We lined up... we tired.. and we poor...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  huddled masses yearning to be free, and be fed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As to pantyhose, I knew not of the state of their knickers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  but surely did notice their arms were yes a bit thicker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And even at that age tagged fatty-draped elbows
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  with the beauties of tongue-melting cubes of good Jello.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  So they might have skewed somewhat to the realm of the Hefty
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  but they really could crank out good rolls and spaghetti.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    OK. But we are stretching it. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bbqboy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "Stretching" is certainly the perfect verb for the query
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      of the quest for spaghetti of perfect al dente.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Apocryphal ladies in those old tile-lined kitchens
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      would throw noodles to walls to see it sticks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      These days we seem to use our incisors
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      to clamp single noodle and give it a stretch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The rhythm and rhyme of perfect al dente
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      was once provided by hair-netted Lunch-Ladies

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      To each of their own
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      as to chew of their pasta,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: FoodFuser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I nominate FoodFuser for Poet Laureate of Lunchladyland.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Fried burritos, in high school, Texas Goulash in elementry.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: horseshoe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  fried burritos are chimichangas. what is

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Texas goulash?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Poutine. Back in High School, I started putting ketchup on my poutine to keep everyone else's fingers out. It worked, and I've been eating poutine with ketchup ever since. Funny, no one ever wants to share.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Elementary school in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach in the 70's-- The only memories I have are the Chocolate/Peanut Butter oatmeal nobakes that have been mentioned. I loved those. And I actually liked the limp crust hamburger/cheddar pizza. One thing I've never figured out is where they got their peanut butter for the peanut butter sandwiches. No jelly, just peanut butter. It had a taste I've never run across since. The few times I was able to take my lunch, my choice was always Wonder Bread/Oscar Mayer Bolonga/French's yellow mustard. I still eat those to this day, with a layer of crushed potato chips on top. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    High School in the early 80's in Northern California-- Hamburgers. Everyone keeps mentioning beef burgers. You sure? Ours were soy burgers, cooked and wrapped in that white wax paper sleeve where the juice and the buns collide. (you know what I'm talking about) A couple of packs of yellow mustard and yumm.......oh so tasty. I didn't think so then, but sometimes I find myself craving those incredulous mutations of flavor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My mom was a career cafeteria worker, retiring as a manager, and she was an incredible cook. She also had quite the reputation in the school district for the meals she served "her kids" over a 30 plus year career. Her fried chicken was, by far, the best I've ever had to this day. All I could think when I was in school was how much I wished she worked in our cafeteria.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I did not have a lunch in high school... go figure. I took too many classes. Sometimes I ate in the library or in the halls between classes, but I always got yelled at. I learned to eat breakfast and also eat dinner at 4:30ish or as soon as I could get home. Yay...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My students do, however, always want "chicken poppers"--I don't really understand what this is. But it sounds horrible, and I have no idea why the school would serve this. If I were tenured, I would get huffy about it, but I am a first-year, so I cannot rock the boat (yet).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: GraceW

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In NE Ohio in the 70's: warm whole wheat muffins with honey butter (I still think about them) and squares of a thick crusted pizza (might have been a Bisquik dough) with ground beef and cheddar cheese.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: GraceW

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The chicken equivalent of popcorn shrimp?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Once a week (Wednesdays!) the cafeteria would put out a few dish that had a small roastbeef hero with a side of mayo and a pickle. It'd probably be awful if I ate it now, but it was by far my favorite lunch option back then. I always hoped that there would be some left when I got there, and always wondered why the dozens that had a chance at it before I did didn't snatch it up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. For me it was the rolls. Big yeast rolls on sheets. When hot and completely baked with a crusty top they were delicious. When undercooked and doughy they made great "spitballs" and dough bals for tossing :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Old thread, but thanks to the magic of Chowhound....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The best thing was actually the unintentional worst thing. How I figured this out I can't recall, but to the little styrofoam half-cups of crappy vanilla ice cream we'd get in elementary school in Oklahoma in 1978, I'd add a squirt of ketchup. Turns out that watery vanilla IC mixed with industrial-strgneth ketchup is the most gloriously disgusting thing you could possibly imagine. The smell was so offensive that it fascinated me, and I'd willingly ruin my lunch to smell it time and again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If I ever actually tasted it, I've blocked it out.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The thick taste of 'maters distilled down to ketchup
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                might indeed seek affinity with seeds of vanilla.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But I doubt if my tongue could give praise to those lycopenes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                if the base of the ice cream was chocolate

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But much of the joy was the peel of the tab of the thick paper top.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That, and the lathering and licking to prepare the rough grain of that flat wooden spoon..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have always enjoyed your poem-posts, but this one is particularly brilliant, catapulting you into the poe-sphere of true brilliance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's just a recapture of cafeteria food
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    with which we gave grapple for twelve years our youth

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yet the feel of that pull-top on paper packed ice cream
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    and our strength of saliva as we stroked wooden grain
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    is something I wish I could capture again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thank you for a very strong and specific memory revival. Remember the smell of those spoons? And the ice cream was best if frozen so hard you could barely get at it with the spoon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ...and milk came in clear 8 ounce bottles, capped with a cardboard disc with a similar pull-tab.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I hate to be the one to beak it to you FF, but you and buttertart are old. I can barely remember trying to drop clothes pins into milk bottle at pre-school birthday parties.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Rub it in. I was a tiny child (kindergartener) at the time of which I speak.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sorry about that. When I tell my kids that their grandmother didn't buy milk at the store until I was in high school they think I'm a hundred years old. They think it's bizarre that a man in a truck would deliver milk to your house. They said "you mean like a pizza guy"?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That's very cute. When I was even smaller we had a horse-drawn (!) bread van. Tell anybody that and they think you were born in 1870.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A year-and-a-half later I respond....My father (who is now almost 81) lied about his age and got a driver's license at age 13 and got a job delivering ice to homes and businesses for their iceboxes. This would have been about 1945 and many people did not yet have electric refrigeration. My grandparents got their first electric refrigerator in 1949 when my grandfather won a General Electric refrigerator in a raffle. I remember seeing that refrigerator in my uncle's basement. It was actually in use until shortly after he died in 1995.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We had an icebox that was still in the pantry when I was growing up, long since decommissioned, but used as a cabinet. And the fridge we had in the late 50's lived into the 2000s, and may still be going for all I know. Frigidaire. The door was so heavy it sounded like a car door when you closed it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The funny thing is that fridge from the 50's that lasted into the 2000's probably cost you much more than a new fridge would have. We had a second fridge like that down in the basement that my parents kept in operation until around 1980s, then finally unplugged it..... the electricity bill dropped significantly since the fridge consumed a lot of electricity.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          i noticed that with our spare fridge -- which was probably from the mid 80's, even. once it died, our electric bill went down a surprising amount.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That would be the same milk bottle in which the cream rose to the top and was ladled out using The Cream Ladle, to be used in coffee? Also found on Memory Lane, the bakery where they used to send me ca 1940 for a coffee cake about 9 x 12 with an inch-and-a-half of fruit topping on it, that cost ten cents.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Although somewhat off topic, your post made me remember a wonderful smell from my youth. Do any of you out there remember the regular, old ice cream truck that came around each summer and sold plain, old ice cream novelties like the 'wooden-spoon ice cream cups', Bomb pops, Wonder bars, ice cream sandwiches, etc? I sure do! Since all families back in the 50's had tons of kids, I generally knew if I got any money at all, it would only be enough for the cheaper popsicle-type treat - which was fine with me because it wasn't really the TASTE I wanted anyway - but a certain ice-cream truck SMELL! If I angled myself just right, I'd be close enough to the ice cream man when he pulled on that stainless steel handle which popped open the little square door to the various refrigerated compartments on the back of the truck. The minute those doors opened, the most wonderful smell wafted out. This smell was like the special, Heavenly version of a freshly-made (?) DRUMSTICK! You know - the one with the vanilla ice cream stuffed into a real cone slathered in hard, frozen chocolate topping and rolled in crushed peanuts!? The smell coming from the truck was so much better than the real thing for some reason.! It was sort of a combination of - freshly baked cones and roasting peanuts! Mmmmm- I can almost smell it right now!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: wrldsworstcook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We thronged to those trucks like tail-wagging pups
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                to get hold of those orange and vanilla "push-ups."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sold in a tube with a stick in the bottom
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                to be slid upward mouthward
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                as contents were consumed

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                They were lessons not just in circular geometry
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                but also an early experience in gastronomy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                An earliest memory, right about three,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                was walkng in a daze in our high school cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                swooning with wonder
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                of being much younger
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                but I knew I could handle the tube of that push-up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Marching past tables of towering adolescents
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I licked and I savored the finest of scents
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                of cardboard, vanilla, and orange.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Actually, the other worst thing was chicken-fried steak. Gray gristle battered and doused in the nastiest coagulating cream gravy...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        There was no best thing. I was happiest when my mom packed me a cream cheese and green olive sandwich, even though my friends thought that was weird.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. My high school had the daily option of this pasta dish which consisted of overcooked shells and watery, over seedy tomato sauce. It was the most disgusting thing ever yet, somehow 85% of the student body ate it everyday. It was rare to see someone in the "hot lunch" line!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Confession: I sometimes crave a bowl of this gross yumminess!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I went to school in the sixties and early seventies, our school was classified as a farm community something or other by the government, meaning our cafeteria served large lunches, each lunch started with a dixie cup of juice, a bowl of soup, all the bread and real butter you could eat, then the entree and dessert, most of the food was good, except tuna noodle, harvard beets and deviled egg day, all together on the same plate, it was awful, my favorite was pork patty, baked potato and spinach, it was yummy, our meals were served on china plates too, the only plastic dishes were little bowls for salads, some change from then to now...........

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Back in the day, we had open lunch, so I never ate in the school cafeteria... except on the days they served chili and cinnamon rolls. Both were made from scratch and delicious. How they came up with that combo is beyond me, but we all loved it. And it's not unique to my home town; they serve it where I live now as well. Perhaps it's a Kansas thing? Or a Midwestern thing?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Buenos Aires, an American school, 1940's. A cook named Fiorina made an apple pudding as good as any dessert I have eaten in my life. Sliced apples were covered with a cakey topping flavored with grated orange peel and orange juice. Big pans of this were baked in a coal stove that gave a crusty edge all around, and it was dished up warm by the teacher at the head of each table and slathered with heavy cream poured from a pitcher. My father noticed that we always had it the day after the tuition bills were mailed ("Damn, this bill is here again." "O I love my school; the food is so good.")

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. High School for me took place in a monastery. We ate in a refectory with long tables on each side that faced the center of the room. The students that would be serving that day or week, whatever, then would serve trays of food, family style, from the center of the room. The priests' table crossed the end of the room, the whole forming a square U shape.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The one thing I remember most about meals is that we ate in silence, and there was a reader (again a shared job like every other like kp and every other cleaning chore in the place), who read aloud anything from biographies to more sacred readings to, on Fidays, the Rule of St. Augustine, read, alternatively, in Latin and in English. After that, Fr. Superior would proclaim "Benedicamus Domino," and allow us to talk freely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Our cook was Brother Ray who had been a Navy cook and there was nothing that really stood out in my mind, Two things that of hs that I do recall were one, his meatloaf, notable for its chunks of crunchy celery and onion (and I still use some raw onion and celery in mine now), and the white sheetcakes he made with fruit cocktail in them. I would never consider doing that to anybody now, much less to myself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Oh, man, this brings back memories. I went to highschool in the late '90's, and I thought just about everything they served was absolute garbage. I would get a pack of cinnamon and brown sugar pop tarts and a bag of Hannover's sourdough pretzels from the vending machine most days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That said, I did usually get cafeteria lunch on two days. First, double dog days ... two hotdogs, baby! That, I could not pass up, even if they were subpar dogs that had been boiled. I think they did this every other week, on Wednesdays. Second, pizza, which was actually delivered from a local pizza place and not too bad. They did that every Friday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. 1963. Winchester Eng. Romsey Road boys school. Lunch: Sixteen boys at the long table starving. Woman rolls in cart with huge stainless roasting type pan with 'shepard's pie'. The Prefect at the head of the table serves out the plates supposedly with equal amounts. Trouble is he gives himself and this buddies sitting hearest him double portions. By the time I get my serving handed down to me it's about the size of a small apple. Happened every lunch.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes undeniable TATER TOTS in the early 80's usually served with the steamy hot dog or meat/bean paste filled burrito were out of this world. No 3 star michelin chef or Thomas keller can ever re-create something magic like that. The same cannot be said for the pizza's and hamburger's for some reason.