When “Stranger Things” premiered two summers ago, it became an immediate phenomenon. The first season, set in 1983 in the Midwestern town of Hawkins, Indiana, followed a group of precocious youngsters in search of their missing friend amidst a slew of supernatural occurrences. In a lot of ways it worked as an homage to so many classic horror and adventure films of the past 30 years. Sly nods to “ET,” “Alien,” and “The Goonies” are all on display, unleashing a floodgate of nostalgia from viewers young and old.
But “Stranger Things” doesn’t just pay tribute to ’80s sci-fi (and eerie synth-rock)—just witness the third season’s Starcourt Mall, complete with throwback businesses Hot Dog on a Stick and Scoops Ahoy (okay, so that second one wasn’t actually a real place, but it’s still amazing).
The show treats every aspect of the time period with equal reverence, including the food. If you’ve yet to binge season three (or are just ready for a re-watch), consider a thematic menu that celebrates some of the series’ culinary highlights and what they mean, not just to the show, but to the culture at large:
Way before the brand was scandalized by the introduction of “New Coke” in 1985, “Stranger Things” portrayed a simpler time when there was a clear winner in the cola wars. Even the can that Eleven crushes with her telekinetic superpowers in the first season features the old-school design. Of course, in season 3, New Coke is on the scene, and for a limited time, you can actually buy it again in stores.
Related Reading: Now’s Your Chance to Try New Coke, Thanks to “Stranger Things”
Frozen waffles are a staple for families on the go. The speedy breakfast is probably the most prominently featured food in the entire series as Eleven hoards an entire supermarket freezer full of them in season one, and in season two, Hopper leaves Eggos in a forest cache for El to find.
Meatloaf and Casseroles
These comfort food classics and dinnertime mainstays are seen on dining room tables throughout the series. Most notably, Karen bakes a casserole for a distraught Joyce will she attempts to find her son Will. While we’re never told exactly what kind of layered dish it is, we’re betting it’s tuna noodle, the grossest of them all.
Season three is all about the mall—the new Starcourt Mall is Hawkins’ tween and teen hangout of choice, and where Steve and new character Robin work (at the aforementioned, nautical-themed Scoops Ahoy). Anyone who came of age before the rise of Internet shopping can likely relate. And there’s no reason you can’t recreate some mall food court classics at home to make your “Stranger Things” season 3 viewing party even more enjoyable. May we suggest corn dogs and an ice cream sundae to follow?
Header image by Chowhound