Just like fashion styles, trends come and go. There are a host of classic American foods that have withstood the test of time—like cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and mac and —but many traditional foods have disappeared, resolved to live out their legacy in textbooks and in the minds of those who remember. Some of these dishes are sorely missed, while others we’re happy no longer pop up on restaurant menus. From turkey tetrazzini to mock apple pie, here are some of the dishes that were once considered royalty in America but have since fallen out of favor.
Thanksgiving leftovers are as traditional as the holiday meal itself. My father’s favorite leftover dish was turkey tetrazzini—made with that leftover turkey and sautéed mushrooms, cheese, cream, peas, and egg noodles or spaghetti. It typically lasted all weekend long in our house and it used to appear on restaurant menus, too. The dish is rumored to have been dreamed up by a Luisa Tetrazzini, a celebrated San Francisco opera singer in the early 1900s. Get our Turkey Tetrazzini recipe.
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Another leftover favorite that has been left off menus and not prepared in home kitchens is Chicken a la King. The dish is built with chicken, mushrooms, veggies, and a sherry cream sauce served over biscuits. Origins of the dish are debatable, but it’s said to come from Delmonico’s in New York City where the dish got a start in the 1880s as Chicken a la Keene (named after Foxhall Parker Keene). Other accounts link it to the Bellevue Hotel in Philadelphia and even London at Claridge’s Hotel. Get our Chicken à la King recipe.
Popular in the Great Depression was the Mock Apple Pie made with Ritz crackers. There are no apples in the mock pie, with the buttery crackers intending to mock the apples. The recipe was also printed on the back of Nabisco’s Ritz Crackers box. Today, of course, apples are used in apple pies. Get the Mock Apple Pie recipe.
The classic 1920s Waldorf salad with apples and walnuts and heavy mayo-based dressing is in the rearview mirror, for the most part. It was a celebratory dish when the war ended and more extravagant ingredients like fruit and nuts could be used again. While you won’t typically find it on menus, you can make a lighter version with Greek yogurt in place of mayonnaise. Get our Turkey Waldorf Salad recipe.
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Some yesterday foods are uber regional like the dried, re-cooked, preserved whitefish known as lutefisk (it translates to “lye fish”), which has an acquired taste and texture. Lutefisk is a Norwegian dish, popular in the Midwest, especially Wisconsin and Minnesota, as that geographic area was home to many descendants of Scandinavians, says Janet Gianetti, co-founder of Mr. Meal Delivery. “Over the years, though, as many of the first generation and second generation descendants of immigrants passed away or moved out of the area, the dish has fallen into obscurity,” she says. Lutefisk dinners are sometimes still celebrated at “lutefisk feeds” at churches and community centers, says Gianetti. “Whenever I hear about one, I make sure to visit to eat what may soon be an extinct dish in America.” Get the Lutefisk recipe.
Succotash is a Native American dish that went on to become a traditional Thanksgiving dish in New England. The dish of sweet corn, lima beans, and other beans is hard to find today in New England on Turkey Day, although it still makes an appearance as a side dish in the South. Get our Succotash recipe.
Those in the media know that a junket is a press event, but in the food world, junket was a very popular dessert made with rennet (a digestive enzyme that curdles the milk) and sweetened milk. In the eastern U.S., during the 20th century, junket was served to children who were ill because it was believed to ease digestion. It’s technically a type of cheese, but also more like a pudding. Get the Junket recipe.
Lobster Newberg (or Newburg) was created in N.Y.C. at Delmonico’s in 1876—or at least that’s the rumor. The rich dish (lobster, butter, cream, sherry, cognac, eggs) was called Lobster a la Wenberg, named for sea captain Ben Wenberg who first introduced the dish to the restaurant. It was believed to be the restaurant’s signature dish during the 1800s, but was renamed following a fallout between Wenberg and Delmonico’s. Get the Lobster Newberg recipe.
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