7 Retro food trends we're happy to see make a comeback
Retro food is like retro fashion. It's only a matter of time before what was once out becomes in (and in the case of food, delicious) again.
Depending on which decade you grew up in, one or more of these vintage foods might taste like home. Now you have an excuse to time-warp your next dinner party — your favorite "outdated" classic food might just be cool again.
I picked the brains of some of the hottest chefs and culinary experts in the biz to find out which retro foods are back and better than ever:
1. Deviled eggs
I've always poked fun at my husband for his unrelenting addiction to deviled eggs, but now it looks like I'll have to eat my words (and his eggs). Chef Jean-Marie Lacroix calls this favorite 1950s appetizer the latest food trend comeback, currently gracing Brûlée Catering's menu. "Deviled eggs are making a big comeback for brunches, appetizers and passed hors d'oeuvres. Depending on who you ask, they never really were out of style," says Brûlée Catering marketing manager Nina Scimenes.
Donovan Green, health and wellness expert, adds his own healthy interpretation of this devilish dish, saying, "Deviled eggs are the finger food that has many possibilities regarding toppings. Swap out the yolks for shredded carrots, chunky salsa or hummus for a healthy snack."
You knew this was coming. Meatloaf is no longer just an epic 1970s rocker or a popular cheap meal served during the Great Depression. Take a little trip to Atwood, an award-winning restaurant in downtown Chicago, and there you'll find Chef Brian Millman's reinvention of the old classic: hunter's meatloaf, made with all game meats in a mixture of elk and venison, rolled into 7-ounce portions and wrapped with bacon. Try our easy-to-make version at home.
3. Pot pie
Image: Luminous Vegans
America's penchant for pot pies can be traced back to Plymouth Rock. Sadly, today the pot pie has gone the way of the dinosaur, and our newly health conscious-culture may be to blame. As a health nut, I'm all about making nutrition and fitness more mainstream, but I also know that the key to long-term clean living is moderation. Bruce Rogers, executive chef of Hale and Hearty Soups in New York City, is a man who understands how the occasional comfort food can hit the spot.
Known for introducing his restaurant's popular turkey pot pie soup, Chef Rogers explains, "Retro foods have always been there for us, but there was a stigma for a while. Back when everyone was trying to eat skinny, you couldn't sit there with a big bowl of mac and cheese — you wouldn't fit in. People are remembering now that cheese tastes good, that cream and fat taste good, or they want a good old-fashioned burger. Retro food is just comfort food, and it makes people happy."
Quiche, popularized in the U.S. after World War II, may scream ladies' brunch, but damn if it isn't delicious. National restaurant chain Houlihan's spurs on the "return of the quiche" with its Culinary Comebacks menu, featuring a made-from-scratch quiche Lorraine with bacon, caramelized onions, Swiss cheese and thyme. Since the first Houlihan's opened in 1972, this quiche comeback is only apropos — and irresistible.
Image: Michael Tulipan
It's hard to call ramen retro since my love for the low-class noodle has never died. But retro it must be, since the U.S. began importing instant from Japan in 1971, just known as Cup O' Noodles way back when. Nowadays, ultra-hip restaurants are picking up on the fact that broke college students and adults with poor palates (like me) still have a not-so-secret crush on the packaged noodle.
New restaurant Amused on the Upper West Side in New York City serves its mouthwatering version of ramen noodles: ramen noodle carbonara, made with pork belly and ironically served in an instant ramen carton. But of course. Try these easy ramen hacks if you can't get to Amused.
6. Root beer floats
If root beer floats make you think 1950s Woolworth's soda fountain, drive-ins and oldies music, you're in luck. The National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association, an organization that works with a network of trending food bloggers and chefs, says that root beer floats are back in style. For further proof, check out Billy Parisi's root beer float recipe created on behalf of the NFRA.
Parisi shares, "I remember when I was a kid, I would always order a root beer float for dessert. Not ice cream or cake or pie — I wanted an ice cream float. Well, fast-forward 25 years, and I still want one, so I went ahead and hooked up this root beer float recipe, which literally consists of five ingredients, which you can make four if you want to just buy whipped cream out of a can."
7. Tuna noodle casserole
Image: Meal Makeover Moms/Flickr
If it wasn't for the trusty tuna noodle casserole, I may not have made it past middle school. My mom called casseroles her "specialty," and we didn't eat much else. And just like that pair of flared jeans I wore in middle school, I've been hanging on to my love of the casserole since — just in case a big mashup of starchy foods in a baking pan ever came en vogue again. Lucky me, because tuna noodle casserole is back, and it's better than ever.
While the first recorded tuna noodle casserole recipe can be found in 1939's Streamlined Cooking, Hot Dinner Happy Home food blogger Erin Flugstad has a new spin on an old favorite. She calls her revived tuna noodle casserole recipe a "classic comfort food without the cream-of-anything soup." I'll take seconds, please.