I’ll never forget the feeling of opening my grandmother’s olive-green, side-by-side refrigerator and hearing a chorus of angels as I caught a glimpse at the sea of CorningWare® inside. Those white glass dishes with the pale blue flowers always contained culinary treasures ranging from last night’s leftovers to her signature tuna salad.
I still have one of her dishes in my kitchen today, and after some 40 years of use, it still looks brand new and carries with it a lot of great memories. Only now, it’s up to me to cook something that will produce leftovers so I can use it.
Nostalgia runs deep in Southern kitchens, from the brands we used to eat (Cracker Jack, anyone?) to the items we — or our parents — used to cook with (the Radarange!). Yes, nostalgia is alive and well in today’s culture. It even has a hashtag: #TBT. And if you watched the recent Super Bowl commercials, you probably noticed more than one homage to some favorite things from the good ole days.
We decided to step back into the kitchen of our childhoods and take a good look around. We came up with 10 brands that were present then and bring back some great memories now.
First produced in 1957, the cornflower blue floral design is a now-iconic CorningWare pattern that showcases that simple design. Through the years, this popular oven-to-table pattern has been produced in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, and is a great way to add vintage charm to any kitchen. Although many other styles and colors are available today, the company still offers the iconic blue flower pattern here.
Astronaut John Glenn drank it in space in the early ’60s, so it must be good for you, right? No breakfast at my house was complete without a glass of the powdered space juice. Preferably served in a small jelly jar-sized glass with Pac Man on it, right? Or one of the Flintstones? Formulated in 1957 by a food scientist at General Foods Corp., this inventor also created iconic Pop Rocks, Cool Whip and Jell-O. Fortune Magazine reports that Tang is still in production and now available in multiple flavors, but is much more popular outside the United States. Here’s a fun look back at the commercial for Tang. Remember the tagline? “If the glass is empty, it must be Tang.”
Mrs. Butterworth’s Syrup
Remember how the bottle, shaped like Mrs. Butterworth, came alive and talked to the children in the classic commercial? I stared at her many a morning over pancakes hoping she’d wave at me or shuffle across the kitchen table. But all she did was contain my favorite syrup! Introduced in 1961 by Pinnacle Foods, the syrup is still a top brand today and is still sold in her signature silhouette. Although best known for her historic commercials, insurance giant Geico resurrected our favorite sweet-talking grandma in this hilarious commercial from a decade ago. But if you prefer the classic, here you go:
Shake ‘N Bake
Why go to all the trouble to actually fry chicken, when you can Shake ‘N Bake it? All our moms needed was a box of the breadcrumb concoction, a plastic bag and some chicken. As the classic commercial from the ’60s stated: “You just shake. Then you bake … And I helped!” First introduced in 1965 by General Foods, the coating product is manufactured today by Kraft Foods. Now available in a dozen flavors, the website offers a bunch of recipes, such as Shake ‘N Bake coconut shrimp.
When we say “Tupperware,” we aren’t talking about the reusable plastic containers that sandwich meat comes in. The word has become a universal term for anything that keeps leftovers or lunch. But we’re talking about the real deal here: the lime-green and mustard-yellow containers with tops that keep food fresh with their signature burp. Invented in 1946 by chemist Earl Tupper (yes, that’s really his name), the products were so innovative at the time that they required explanation. Hence the Tupperware Party was born. Although the company still makes classic pieces that can house deviled eggs (each in its own little egg-shaped space), Jell-O molds or a pitcher of iced tea, they have also evolved with the times and have all sorts of new products that are still available via the Tupperware party or by clicking HERE.
Let’s all say it together: “He won’t eat it, he hates everything. He likes it! Hey Mikey!” Those words may be among the most recognizable brand identifiers in American history. We can all remember the sweet little kid being teased by his older brothers who don’t want to eat their food, so they pawn it off on the little guy.
Watch the classic commercial here. Introduced in 1961 by The Quaker Oats Company, Life Cereal became the first non-oatmeal offering from the company and is still a staple in the company’s product line today with additional flavors. Wonder if Mikey would like pumpkin spice cereal?
The fruity little brand of Hawaiian-flavored juices can be traced back to a California garage, where in 1934, three men developed the first recipe. Little did they know their concoction, which was named because the original recipe consisted of fruits shipped from the Hawaiian Islands, would survive into the next century. Branded in 1962 with its iconic little cartoon surfer dude “Punchy,” the fruit punch became known for Punchy’s famous line: “How about a nice Hawaiian Punch?” Oh, yeah!
Swanson® TV Dinners
Developed in 1953 by C.A. Swanson & Sons, the first mass-produced “TV dinner” was the forerunner for all modern-day pre-packaged frozen meals. The true original was an aluminum tray with sections for a meat, a vegetable, potatoes and often even a little dessert. Although can you imagine in today’s microwaveable world, having to wait 25 minutes for your dinner to heat up? Although, I guess the wait would be offset by the fact that it only cost 98 cents.
Probably one of the oldest American forms of junk food, the Cracker Jack was invented and trademarked in 1896 when the brothers who formed F.W. Rueckheim & Bro., mixed molasses-flavored, caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts together. But the real genius was the other thing that came in each box: a prize! I spent many a Saturday afternoon of my childhood sticking temporary tattoos to my arm that I had dug out of the bottom of the Cracker Jack box. Was it just me or did anyone else eat the popcorn and pick out the nuts? Now owned by food giant Frito-Lay, Cracker Jacks come in bags instead of the old-school boxes, and the sailor mascot has undergone a bit of an image overhaul.
The Amana Radarange
It was originally the size of a small dishwasher, and the lights in the house dimmed when you turned it on, but the original microwave oven revolutionized cooking as we know it today. Invented accidentally by an American engineer in 1946 by harnessing radar technology developed during World War II, he noticed that microwaves from an active radar set he was working on started to melt a candy bar he had in his pocket. The first food deliberately cooked with the first microwave was, ironically, popcorn. The new technology was introduced to the consumer in 1967 by the Amana Corporation.
Enjoy trips down Memory Lane as well as exploring everything that’s fabulous about being an adult living in the South. Subscribe to StyleBlueprint for your best “me moment” of the day!