Food goes out of style.

Has anyone else noticed that certain foods go out of style? I’m not talking about foods that we no longer eat because we’ve learned that they’re unhealthy for us, like lard. I mean foods that we used to eat that we simply forgot. Let me give you some examples.

My mother used to make a lemon cake, drizzled with frosting made from icing sugar. She cooked it in a bundt pan and it was a summer favourite. Until I mentioned it to her a year ago, everyone in the family had forgotten about it. She made it again a couple times since then. It’s just as delicious as we remember it.

Another family favourite we revived, again because I mentioned how much I enjoyed it as a child, was banana split cake. This delectable treat is layers of fruit and cream cheese, covered in whipped cream and drizzled chocolate on a graham crust. It’s amazing and we’ve had it three times this past summer, because once everyone remembered how good it is, we couldn’t get enough of it.

By the way, click on the images to get recipes for both. I don’t know if those are the recipes my mother uses, but from what I can tell, they’re pretty close. Both desserts are ridiculously delicious.

Of course, it’s not just desserts that go out of style. Main courses get relegated to the back of our memories, as well. I remember back in the 70’s and yes I’m that old, that my parents used to make hamburgers, rather than buy them. They had a meat grinder and would double grind the meat, then add bread crumbs, eggs, onion and spice, mix it well and form them using a patty stacker. Each stack of about a dozen would get wrapped in tin foil and frozen until needed. They’d make up five to ten pounds of ground beef at a time and we’d have enough burgers to last an entire summer.

Last year, I started making my own burgers again, using very much the same technique my parents did. The price ends up costing about $1 per burger and the size is slightly larger than what you can purchase from the grocery store. Yes, it takes a bit of work, about half an hour to make up two to three dozen, but the quality is far superior and this way, I know what ingredients are in my burgers. We’ve had plenty of company over to the house this past year and everyone unquestionably prefers my homemade burgers to anything you can get from the store. Most even prefer them to what you can get from a quality restaurant. Notice that I said quality restaurant, not high class, because I doubt many people go to a fancy restaurant to order burgers.

Some of you may see these recipes and say to yourselves “Hey, I make those. What do you mean they’re out of style?” My point is not that the food itself is lost to the ages, but that we are creatures of habit. We go through cycles. One group of people, whether it be our friends or co-workers, share recipes and everyone makes it for a while, sharing it with their extended circle. In a few months or years, people forget about it and move onto something else. It’s almost like a fad.

Thanks to the Internet, very little is forgotten. Since recipes are shared globally, you should be able to find almost anything you want or remember, from your past. That’s great news when you become bored with your current options. With a little research, you should be able to revive some gems that are not as popular as they once were and share it with your current social circle.

However, not everything can be recovered as easily. When it comes to commercial foods, it’s a different story. I have been looking for lemon pudding for two years now, but nobody seems to sell it. Take a look down the aisles of your own grocery store. You’ll find banana, tapioca, butterscotch, vanilla and chocolate. You’ll likely find some derivations of those flavours, but you’ll be hard pressed to find lemon. It’s not that it’s not made anymore, either. I’ve found it online. However, most grocery stores don’t carry it. It must not be a big seller, odd though I find that.

Do you remember the recent Twinkie scare? When Hostess went out of business, people were all up in arms about losing the infamous Twinkie, which by the way, does not actually have an indefinite shelf life. I would think it safe to say that most adults don’t eat this confectionery, but there was a huge outpouring of public concern that we would no longer be able to feed this practically poisonous, quasi-food to our children.

As a Canadian, I was amazed when I first found out that you cannot buy Peak Freans Chocolate Covered Digestive Cookies or Smarties in the United States. Those are two very good reasons I’ll never move there. Oh, and please don’t look at the Smarties box and say “Oh, you mean M&M’s.” No! These are not M&M’s! They are far better and pre-date that gross candy by over 50 years. They originated in England and are a favourite Canadian treat. If either of those companies went our of business, I’d be much sadder than losing Twinkies, which I never liked, anyway.

The benefit that commercial products have over homemade recipes of course, is marketing. Despite being nearly 150 years old, Smarties are still around and indeed, very popular. While I’ve never seen a Peak Freans commercial on Canadian television, they are apparently a very serious cookie. So, the likelihood of even obscure products of this nature disappearing from public conscience altogether is far less likely.

Ask yourself though, what foods do you miss from your past? Are there any you wish to forget? I can think of one. I hated tuna casserole. It literally made me choke and I remember it being one of the oddest recipes I’d ever encountered too, because my family actually made it with potato chips. Egads! I’m glad that one went “out of style”, much like Disco. So, I guess forgetting some things from our past isn’t always such a bad idea.

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