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Flashback: Menu ideas for 70's/80's potluck. Tupperware optional.

I'm helping to plan a friend's Birthday party and we're having it themed around the types of party foods we grew up with at our own parent's dinner parties. Fondue, meatballs in ketchup and grape jelly, vienna sausages, pigs in a blanket, jello-molds and deviled eggs are the only things that come to mind right now. I'm drawing a blank and I refuse to make rumaki. Keep in mind we'll have a couple of vegetarian friends and I'd like for them to eat more than Chex-mix and french onion dip. Any suggestions would be great!

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  1. Waikiki Meatballs from the 1970's Betty Crocker Recipe Cards set

    Some other ideas:

    -Monkey bread
    -Sherbet - 7-up punch
    -Jell-O pudding pops
    -Boboli Pizza
    -Ranch dressing veggie platter
    -Party cheese ball
    -Baked potato bar/buffet
    -Flavored popcorn
    -Gummi Bears, Gummi Worms, Pop Rocks, Jelly Belly's, Starburst candies, etc. etc.

    1. ooh ooh! I know...how about the English muffins with crab & Old English cheese? I believe you can freeze them in quarters and then bake or broil just before serving...might suit the vegetarians? (but not if they are vegans, certainly!)

      5 Replies
      1. re: Val

        I have the "official" recipe if anyone would enjoy it...

        1. re: Siobhan

          I'd like to see that, I've seen them mentioned many times but have not personally had them. They sound good

          1. re: ChrisKC

            Crabbies! Yes, I love these. We have them every year as part of our family's all-appetizers-and-desserts Christmas party. My aunt can barely get out of the kitchen with a full tray!

        2. re: Val

          Heads up, Val, vegetarians don't eat crab.

          1. re: pikawicca

            THENK YEW...LOL...there are "vegetarians" I've met who tell me they eat seafood...I'm JUST going by experience...like I said...to ME, if you say you are a vegetarian, then you don't eat flesh of any creature...but these folks seem to have a diff definition of the word. "know your guests" is all I can say...if they say they are veggies but they eat fish, what-the-hell...just serve what they'll eat, right? I'm not about to get into a 'word war" with anyone.

        3. cocktail weiners in bar b que sauce
          sausage balls

          2 Replies
          1. re: LaLa

            My mother used to make this in the early 80's and as gross as it sounds it's actually really tasty. Brown 1/2 ground beef and 1/2 bob evans sausage crumbled, drain fat.
            melt a stick of velveeta in and serve on light;y toasted mini bagels.

            Wing dings which are baked wings with shake and bake

          2. Watergate salad (70s)
            Nachos became mega popular in the 80s--easy to vegetarianize

            Serve with Harvey Wallbangers (70s) or Wine Coolers (80s)

            7 Replies
            1. re: nofunlatte

              My grocery deli makes watergate salad and I love it....people go nuts when they come to visit and find it in the fridge..lol...

              1. re: LaLa

                I have never actually had this, but my mom used to buy the instant pistachio pudding all the time in the 70s.

                1. re: karykat

                  A "salad" made of pistachio pudding, canned pineapple, nuts, mini marshmallows, and Cool Whip.

                  1. re: nofunlatte

                    *gasp* I've had that before! I never knew it had a name...but the version I had contained a can of fruit cocktail instead of the pineapple. It seemed odd, but the pastel green pistachio pudding really set it off. Looks godawful, but it was super yummy.

                    1. re: thedragonlady

                      And it's green, so it MUST be a salad and be good for you! :)

                2. re: nofunlatte

                  my mom used to make harvey wallbanger cake.

                  1. Wow, half of the stuff listed by Antilope, my kids & I still eat, like the candy, didn't know we were living in a time warp!!!

                    Anyway, you've got to have at least one casserole!!! How about tuna noodle casserole for the veggie crowd? And the green bean casserole made with everything canned? That's vegetarian too. And wasn't cheap wine, like Bonny Doon (not quite so bad, anymore actually!) & Riunite in style? Gotta do those. And, I see you have the requisite jello-molds. Sounds like a party! How fun!!

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: Phurstluv

                      Mateus wine, along with the Riunite (on ice, that's nice!)

                      1. re: nofunlatte

                        Lancer's was big in the 60's and Dubonnet became the 70's rage. And what was the bottled sangria that was so heavily promoted?

                        1. re: Chefpaulo

                          Yes, my parents served Mateus and Lancers. Only for special occasions. It was the height of chic.

                      2. re: Phurstluv

                        sorry but tuna noodle isn't vegetarian! Neither are the crab muffin things, good as they are. Wasn't the moosewood cookbook a huge thing back then? There's where to find some authentic veggie fare.

                        1. re: DGresh

                          DGresh...aren't there some vegetarians who say they do eat fish and cheese? Just wondering....that's what I've heard some people say, anyway. Not trying to start an argument about the meaning of the word "vegetarian" but some people do play loosey-goosey with the term.

                          1. re: Val

                            Accurately, vegetarian can include eggs and cheese. Vegan does not include eggs or cheese. There may be some "vegetarians" who will eat fish, but that is grossly inaccurate and really not very common in my experience.

                            1. re: Val

                              Pescetarians eat fish. Vegetarians do not. If a person eats fish and calls themself a vegetarian, they don't know what they are. Lacto-ovo vegetarians eat eggs and dairy products. Vegans eat no animal products at all.

                          2. re: Phurstluv

                            aren't casseroles more a 50s thing? the era of 'convenience foods" being introduced to help oh-so-busy housewives save time and effort?

                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                              Don't know, wasn't around in the 50's but know I ate a lot of them in the 70s since my mom worked.

                          3. Things I think of from the 80's...
                            Chicken Divan
                            Cheeseburger Pie
                            BBQ Chicken Pizza
                            Broccoli Limon
                            Impossible Pies
                            Anything with sundried tomatoes
                            Rice Krispy Treats
                            Chocolate Tortes or Lava Cake

                            the '70's...
                            Chicken a la King
                            Cheese or Corn Souffle
                            Stuffed Celery
                            Waldorf Salad
                            Broiled Pineapple
                            Anything Hamburger Helper
                            Cherries Jubilee

                            1. yes! celery with creamy cheddar cheese (jarred pimento cheese would do it)....and some jumbo canned black olives. Then stick 5 of them on your fingers and wave them around!!!!!

                              1. sheppard's pie,
                                tuna casserole

                                1. Awesome ideas, everyone!!! Thank you! We're going to have so much fun with this menu. The glutton inside of me is almost prompted to invite MORE people just to increase the variety of dishes. I also have a feeling that you Chowhounds are enjoying this trip down memory lane. Thanks to ALL of you and keep 'em coming!

                                  1. I didn't see the iconic spinach dip served in the hollowed out bread boule. And you have to have at least one big hunk of Port wine cheese.

                                    Another "Gourmet" addition from the late 1940's was cubes of poached chicken breast on toothpicks served with a sauce of Dijon mustard and currant jelly. Very adventurous for the day.

                                    And, for those who haven't heard, Gourmet Magazine is ceasing publication. I can't tell you how many recipes from this venerable publication graced our table when I was growing up. A moment of silence is due.


                                    1. My father used to make a "Sweet and Sour Pork" dish that involved pork, peppers, onions, apricot preserves and Italian dressing...

                                      I remember attending parties in the '70s where little beef meatballs were served in a gravy that was made of tomato sauce and jellied cranberry sauce.

                                      How about the pinwheels made by spreading cream cheese on slices of olive loaf, rolled-up and cut in slices?

                                      Finally, I'm *so* loving the retro ideas I think I'll treat myself to some Mateus rose and some Port Wine Cheese on Triscuits, tonight!

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: shaogo

                                        That's right. Spinach dip made with Mrs. Grass homestyle vegetable dip and soup mix. Or Onion dip made with Liption's onion soup mix. Of course, here in California there was also the Guacamole dip or 7-layer Mexican dip.

                                        1. re: Antilope

                                          I didn't think that spinach dip was that old - did they use canned spinach?? I just remember there being a lot of canned foods, as opposed to fresh or frozen.

                                          And lots of vegetarians eat fish, call themselves pescatarians. There just weren't a lot of vegetarian casseroles I could think of. You can always make a veggie quiche. Of course, vegans won't eat / wear/ consume anything animal.

                                      2. ya know, it seems a lot of the ideas here are pretty kitschy, but silver palate was a monster hit in the 80s and really revolutionized home entertaining. most of their dishes still hold up well. cuz, i'm sorry, vienna sausage and jello molds kinda gross me out.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                          Everybody wasn't eating canned spinach and jello molds or drinking Reunite wine. People were chowhounds even then! I remember lots of quiches and California wines in the seventies. My crowd discovered tahini and every dinner party started with home made humous or baba ganouch with pita bread. Leibfraumilch wine was our go to drink and we had lots of wine and cheese parties. Boursin and brie were big. I think the microwave really was a huge influence on party food but that was closer to the nineties.

                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                            Having grown up in the 60s and been a young-married by the late 70s, I agree with the comments that a lot of the suggestions here -- pigs in blankets, jello molds -- were more 60s foods than 70s-80s. Yes, there were people still serving these things in the 70s or 80s, but they were already passe.

                                            Antilope and Ginnyhw are on the right track: I definitely remember spinach dip, made with dried Knorr spinach soup mix, in bread bowls at least by the early 80s, as well as Boursin and quiche. Other party foods of that era included:

                                            a. crudites served with ranch dressing; Hidden Valley had only recently introduced its foil pack, which you mixed with mayonnaise to make it.

                                            b. mini eggrolls

                                            c. Fondue (got 2 fondue pots as wedding gifts in 1978)

                                            As for alcohol, cheap roses like Lancers, Riunite and Mateus, as well as Leibfraumilch were certainly big in the mid 70s, as well as California Chablis. For harder stuff, in addition Harvey Wallbangers, I recall Tequilla sunrises.

                                            1. re: masha

                                              Oh yes, fondue pots with color coded forks for each dinner guest.
                                              And Tequila sunrises but I have trouble with the recall part.

                                          2. fermented fruit topping for desserts. this was the kind of compote that required starter from a friend. many families had a glass crock of apples, pears, raisins, etc fermenting on their avocado counter tops--right next to the gingham potholders and the country kitchen style book rack that held the joy of cooking.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: silverhawk

                                              I had completely forgotten about that fruit! It was a huge thing - starters were given as holiday gifts. I think there was even some rhyme or story which was included with the starter.

                                            2. Deviled eggs

                                              Also, I still have the Tupperware green & white jello mold with lid. I use it to make the jello/ice cream dessert. People still love it; super easy.

                                              1 large box of jello
                                              1 pint of vanilla ice cream
                                              2 cups of boiling water
                                              1 cup of apple juice
                                              1/2 cup of fruit

                                              In a large bowl mix jello powder with hot water. Add ice cream and stir til thawed and incorporated well. Add juice. Distribute fruit in mold cylinder and add the jello batter. Refrig for 4 hours. Slice & serve. I tend to use strawberry or raspberry jello/fruit.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. You guys are right about some of these kitschy foods being from the 60's more so than the 70's or 80's, but those were some of the things I remember being on the table at the time. I guess my mom and her friends were just trying to keep their favorite party foods alive...but they sure bring back some delicious (far be it from sophisticated) memories!

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: thedragonlady

                                                  I can't believe caviar hasn't been mentioned for the 80's. Aside from microwaved chicken breast w/lemon pepper (gak) and microwave Stouffer's anything (in particular chipped beef or spinach souffle or some wonderfully bad scallop & shrimp dish) it's pretty much all I remember from the 80's, foodwise.

                                                  1. re: shanagain

                                                    Didn't the recipe for the Bacardi Rum Cake come out in the late 70's early 80's?

                                                    It's such a great cake!!

                                                    1. re: middydd

                                                      Yum. Putting Bacardi in anything is likely to end in deliciousness.

                                                      And a post in the latest board posts reminded me: Taco night!

                                                      1. re: shanagain

                                                        So THAT'S where that came from! My mom was known for her legendary Bacardi Rum cakes and she eventually passed on (unloaded is more like it) the tradition of making a few every Christmas to me. Now I'm the one who makes them all the time for friends during the holidays, I can make them in my sleep. I've always known how delicious Bacardi Rum cakes are, but after baking them for so many years I don't get that excited about them anymore.

                                                2. There was a recipe that circulated around that time - chicken with a sauce made from apricot jam, Lipton soup mix and Thousand Islands Dressing, if I recall correctly. Gooey, sweet and not at all good for you, it was in the same family as the "Swedish" meatballs with cranberry sauce (or grape jelly) and ketchup.

                                                  1. My mom made this awesome chile/cheese dip for parties. This was in the late 60's , early 70's and I am sure the recipe came from Sunset magazine or the LA Times as those were her main sources. Now that you have me thinking about this, I am going to have to find it. She would leave a bit behind for sis and I every time but I don't recall her ever making it just for us.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: tcamp

                                                      Maybe it was the Rotel Dip? I just mentioned this in a post. I was never a fan of velveeta but I love this dip and it is always a hit

                                                      1. re: ginnyhw

                                                        Along those lines, for sure. I don't remember Rotel being sold in SoCal in those days and my mom was more of a from scratch cook but you might be right!

                                                        Fortunately, she and her recipe collection are still alive and kicking so I can find out.

                                                        1. re: tcamp

                                                          Rotel still is not sold very much in SoCal. I've never had it and I have looked from time to time because I read about it.

                                                          1. re: laliz

                                                            Rotel as well as the store brand equivalent is in Ralphs, Albertson's and Vons...which is Safeway, if you are not in San Diego. In the canned tomato section.

                                                            1. re: laliz

                                                              I can find Rotel at my regular supermarket (seems like it first appeared around Hurricane Katrina time for some reason) and also the generic version, but the best deal of all is at Walmart, Rotel always 99 cents a can.

                                                      2. Spray cheese and Triscuits. Low maintenance. People might just go for the spray cheese sans crackers, but that could make it a really fun party!

                                                        1. My family still wants spinach dip on Thanksgiving. Guess I'm tragically un-hip! Anyone else remember the caviar pie from the 80's? It's pretty tasty! I may have to make a Bacardi rum cake soon. Anyone else make the chocolate version?

                                                          1. 70s - 80s?? Had electricity been discovered yet? Did people wear clothes? Actually the foods you mention come from the 50s and 60s.