What food was everyone eating the year you were born? Most popular dishes of the 50s 60s 70s and 80s revealed!

When you look back over the past few decades it's amazing how much our tastes have changed when it comes to our favourite foods.
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  • Here we’ve rounded up the stand out dish for every year from 1950 to 1990, so that you can see what was the best loved meal, food or drink during the year you were born.

    From jelly and custard to stuffed peppers, this lovely lot are a real trip down memory lane…

    So which is your favourite?

    1950s food

    1950: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

    Because sweet treats were in short supply during the years after the war, this amazingly colourful bake was welcomed with open arms when it burst onto the foodie scene in 1950. Made with tinned goods, pineapple upside down cake was an easy thing to whip up with your butter and sugar rations, and could make its way round a big family if sliced thinly enough.

    Get the recipe: Pineapple upside-down cake

    1951: SPAM

    While fresh meat was still being heavily rationed, SPAM provided an unlikely source of protein to thousands of British families during the 1950s. Love them or hate them, SPAM fritters were the dish of the year. These crispy morsels were coated in batter, deep-fried and served up for many a supper.

    1952: Baked Alaska

    To be a true child of 1952 you’ve got to have had a baked Alaska or two in your time. This science-defying pud wowed the masses when it was introduced in the 1950s with its hot outside and freezing cold inside. Made with a sponge bottom, a thick layer of jam, a mound of ice cream and a baked meringue shell it really was an impressive party centrepiece.

    Get the recipe: Baked Alaska

    1953: Devilled Eggs

    Liberated from egg and sugar rations but still firmly in the grips of cheese and meat rationing British cooks of 1953 were keen to make the most of their new found culinary freedom. The result? Devilled eggs of course! These curried canapés were a real favourite for serving up as part of a party spread.

    1954: Burgers and milkshakes

    1954 saw the end of rationing altogether and the opening of the first Wimpy Bars, selling burgers and milkshakes to Britain’s teenagers – and they loved it. The love of all things American has stayed with us right up until today, except now we’ve taken things to the next level with freakshakes!

    Get the recipes: Burgers and milkshakes

    1955: Black Forest Gateau

    With its layers of chocolate sponge, whipped cream and cherry syrup, Black Forest Gateau was the dish of the moment in 1955, after being invented in Germany some years earlier (known by its German title, Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte). It appeared in recipe books everywhere following its inclusion on a list of best-known German cakes in 1949, and aren’t we so glad of it? This classic cake is still a favourite for many today.

    Get the recipe: Black forest gateau

    1956: Coronation Chicken

    Coronation chicken was invented for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953 and gathered popularity with every year that passed. In 1956 this exotic mix of cooked chicken, mayonnaise and curry powder and truly become one of Britain’s favourite lunchtime sandwich fillers and could even be found on the shelves of grocery shops, pre-made.

    Get the recipe: Coronation chicken

    1957: Rice Pudding

    Ah, Rice pudding, a deliciously creamy dessert that was traditionally made in a pot but somehow found its way into a tin during the first world war. Despite the tinned version coming years earlier it was 1957 that marked a huge step change for the most popular brand, Ambrosia, when it had to open up a whole new factory to cope with the demand if its famous tinned pud from the British masses.

    Get the recipe: Rice pudding

    1958: Chop Suey

    A rise in immigration during the 1950s and 60s gave Brits a real taste for strong flavours from further afield. 1958 was the year Chop Suey was introduced to the menu of Butlins’ holiday camps – making it officially a British favourite!

    1959: Arctic Roll

    Birds Eye inherited Arctic Roll in 1959, when it bought an Eastbourne ice cream factory and went on to have great success with this freezer staple of the time. Much like a traditional Swiss roll, this ice cream filled alternative captured the hearts of those who couldn’t face having to make a pudding every evening.

    1960s food

    1960: Chicken Tikka Masala

    The dramatic increase in the number of immigrants coming to the UK from former British colonies certainly had an effect on the food us Brits were eating during 1960. It really was the year that Indian restaurants began to flourish and it’s when we first got our taste for one of our (now) national dishes – the chicken tikka masala.

    Get the recipe: Chicken tikka masala

    1961: Lager

    Although we might think of lager as a national drink now, it wasn’t actually introduced to us Brits until the 1960s. This pale golden drink was a lighter, more refreshing alternative to British ales and stouts and made its way into pubs up and down the land in 1961.

    1962: Cheese and onion crisps

    Going hand in hand with the favourite of 1961, lager, cheese and onion crisps were introduced in 1962 by Golden Wonder and joined the existing crisp flavours of ready salted and salt and vinegar to on the back of pub bars across Britain.

    1963: Duck a l’Orange

    Famously one of Grace Kelly’s favourite dishes duck a l’orange was thought to be one of the most exotic flavour combinations to date in 1963. Rarely before had meat been paired with foreign fruit like oranges and it was thought of as very ‘of the moment’.

    1964: Prawn Cocktail

    We can’t help but hold a fond place in our hearts for all children of 1964 because their birthdays coincide with one of our all time favourite dinner party recipes: The prawn cocktail. The pink spicy sauce and a few baby prawns somehow combined to make a magical flavour combination. and the dish has been a firm starter staple every since.

    Get the recipe: Prawn cocktail

    1965: Crêpe Suzette

    Following on from 1963s duck a l’orange the next recipe to gain popularity using oranges was crêpe Suzette. The recipe was brought over from France by the handful of people who could afford to travel to Europe and quickly spread to become one of the stand out dishes of the year.

    1966: Chicken Liver Pate

    In the 1960s we were a lot more used to offal and using up every part of the animal, which meant chicken liver pate quickly became one of the most loved dishes. This smooth pate was made with brandy and butter for a really indulgent treat.

    Get the recipe: Chicken liver pate

    1967: Angel Delight

    Question: What is nationally famous dish, enjoyed by millions from its first appearance in 1967, is made of whey powder combined with several emulsifiers and gelling agents and (despite these unlovely ingredients) was originally marketed as a health food? Answer: Angel Delight. Yup, this oddly wobbly dessert was served up in glasses all over Britain during 1967.

    1968: Jelly and custard

    What child doesn’t love jelly and custard? This school canteen favourite was made popular in the late 1960s thanks to its cheap packet ingredients and simple flavours.

    1969: Fray Bentos Pies

    Fancy time travelling to 1969? Then you’ll need a pie cooked in a tin. Yes, we’re talking about Fray Bentos pies, the latest in a sudden line up of convenient meals in the late 1960’s. All that was required from any cook was to peel back the ring pull tin lid and bake the pie in the oven.

    1970: Spaghetti Bolognese

    Believe it or not back in 1970 spaghetti bolognese was a pretty fashionable ‘foreign’ dish that would be served up at dinner parties up and down the land because of its fabulously ‘fancy’ ingredients. Guests often spent the evening working out how to get the slippery strands into their mouths while trying to avoid tomato sauce going all down their best dress!

    Get the recipe: Spaghetti bolognese

    1971: Banoffee Pie

    Fun fact, condensed milk was invented in 1856 by an American entrepreneur named Gail Borden. However it wasn’t until over 100 years later that Brits were regularly using it in their cooking. And what, you might be thinking, did they make it with? Why, banoffee pie of course! This sweet and sticky mass of bananas and toffee was said to have been invented by The Hungry Monk Restaurant in Jevington, East Sussex in 1971 and was such a hit the owners never took it off their menu!

    Get the recipe: Banoffee pie

    1972: Cheese and Pineapple Sticks

    If there’s a party food to sum up the 1970s it’s got to be cheese and pineapple sticks. The very height of sophistication, these little canapés would often be served stuck into an upside down melon half – to sort of resemble a hedgehog! Classy, we think you’ll agree.

    1973: Chilli Con Carne

    Chilli con carne might seem a little mundane these days but in 1973 it first came onto the scene and made a big impact with Brits who were more used to spuds than spice. This classic combination of minced beef and kidney beans has been a treasured recipe ever since.

    Get the recipe: Chilli con carne

    1974: Smash

    If you truly were a child of 1974 then there’s no way you couldn’t remember Smash. This powdered mash potato mixture had its first big success thanks to its choice of advertising mascot, the Smash Martians, who helped shift packets of the stuff by the thousands.

    1975: Lemon Meringue Pie

    Lemon Meringue Pie hit the foodie scene around 1975 with keen bakers turning their hand to this American style classic in a bid to impress friends and family with their trendy know-how, and we’ve loved it as a nation ever since. There’s something so alluring about the crisp top and sharp filling.

    Get the recipe: Lemon meringue pie

    1976: Fondue

    Fondue from France was a huge hit in 1976, probably mainly because it’s 95% melted cheese and tastes like heaven. Holiday makers brought the recipe home to good old blighty and once we had a taste for things dipped in hot cheese the idea spread like wild fire. This little number was a real dinner party show stopper at the time.

    Get the recipe: Fondue

    1977: Quiche Lorraine

    We couldn’t do a round up of 70s food and leave out the quiche Lorraine, and give or take a few months we seem to remember the cooks of 1977 having a particular fondness for this French quiche recipe. Made with egg, cheese and bacon it was always going to be a winner!

    Get the recipe: Quiche Lorraine

    1978: Stuffed Peppers

    Ah, the stuffed pepper. A wonderfully exotic mix of either rice and herbs or beef mince and veg, all encompassed in a sweet pepper shell. This hollowed out delight found favour in 1978 when people were starting to look for more vegetarian recipes.

    Get the recipe: Stuffed peppers

    1979: Profiteroles

    Only a truly delicious dessert stands the test of time, with many falling by the way side as our tastes and preferences change. Profiteroles are one of those truly delicious desserts. Little puffs of light choux pastry, filled with cream and topped with chocolate sauce captivated the hearts of our nation back in 1979 and have been held dear to all dessert lovers since.

    Get the recipe: Profiteroles

    1980s food

    1980: Viennetta

    Viennetta was introduced in the early 1980s and was stocked piled in freezers all over Britain from then on in. The layers of chocolate that shattered in your moth hidden between layers of sweet bright white ice cream was a family teatime favourite for children of the 1980s.

    1981: Trifle

    A British classic, the trifle had already been around for a while by the 1980s, but with the ever more exotic tinned fruit available in 1981 this custard and cream topped dessert was at the height of its popularity.

    Get the recipe: Trifle

    1982: Vol Au Vent

    If you were born in 1982 there were most likely vol au vents at your Christening because these small canapé bites were a big hit back then. Typically filled with a creamy mushroom and chicken filling they were considered the classiest canapé of the day.

    1983: Chicken Kiev

    Freezer food at its finest, the chicken kiev became a main player for speedy suppers around 1983. Filled with deliciously rich garlic butter and coated in breadcrumbs it’s no wonder this 80s special has stuck around.

    1984: Battenberg Cake

    Battenberg Cake was apparently named in honour of the marriage of Princess Victoria, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, to Prince Louis of Battenberg 100 years previously to 1984, in 1884. However, by the time it trickled down from the tables of royal households to the masses it was 1984. This year everybody was serving this classic checkerboard cake at afternoon tea parties to impress friends and family.

    Battenburg cake

    1985: Garlic bread

    We might think of garlic bread as a mainstay of British tables these days, but lots of garlic was a pretty new thing in 1985. Paired with melting butter and a crusty baguette it was no wonder that this new age Italian side order proved very popular.

    1986: Pizza

    Following on from the Italian theme of 1985, 1986 saw a huge import from Italy become one of our most treasured meals. The melting cheese and tomato combo of a pizza just made sense to our hearts and stomachs and we haven’t looked back since.

    Get the recipe: Pizza

    1987: Chicken satay

    Now that we’re well on our way to the 90s things are beginning to get a little more exotic. Chicken satay hit the scene in 1987 and was a stand out recipe of the year with everyone wanting to try this delicious recipe packed full of Asian flavours.

    1988: Kiwi fruit

    If the most exotic fruit you’ve had for your whole life was an orange, then you can imagine the hype surrounding the humble kiwi when it began being imported en masse during 1988. Piled on top of pavlovas or sliced onto tarts, the kiwi was a sure fire way to show friends and family you were a fully blown foodie.

    1989: Vegetarian food

    Veggie food was becoming more and more popular during the late 80s. This was propelled into popular culture by the release of Linda McCartney’s first book called Linda Mccartney’s Home Cooking in 1989. Her book was so successful that a couple of years later she launched her vegetarian ready meal range which proved popular, too.

    1990: Pop tarts

    When the 90s hit it was American junk food that was the order of the day again, except this time it was breakfast food. Pop tarts had been available in the US during the 70s but it wasn’t until 20 years later that we got them in our supermarkets. The reaction? Kids LOVED them.

    So, there you have it – a round up of the most popular food from the good old days. If you have any dishes you remember being around from your childhood let us know!

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