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GenX’s Gross Retro Foods Are Blowing Up Reddit

Overcooked meat, underseasoned food, tomato soup cake, boiled vegetables. It's the '80s, baby,

Retro cooking is making a comeback on Reddit… sort of.

The past twenty years have been billed as a welcome exit from boiled vegetables, overcooked meats, and cheesy, undercooked casseroles that have defined our childhood — but that doesn’t mean that the memories of shoveling down tomato-soup-aspic-cake are all gone from our brains. And that’s why one Redditor, u/KnowNothingOfJavert, asked the Cooking subreddit: “What is the most horrifying thing your parents did to food?”

They probably didn’t expect the thread, which went live last night, to go as gangbusters on the website as it did, but it’s clear that Gen X and 90’s babies had a lot to say on the subject. For the original poster’s part, they noted that their dad grills unseasoned hamburger patties and then squeezes all the juice out of them, and then overcooks them.

One Redditor, u/writinginwater, seemed to have a reason why all meats of yore were overcooked in America: “Because of the Great Trichinosis scare of the ’70s, you could hammer a nail into oak with her pork chops. Just the blandness and repetition of meals was disheartening.” 

Another said: “Boiled ribs and potatoes. That’s it. No seasoning. Just boiled. Ribs. And. potatoes.” u/TwitchPantsMcgee said: “I grew up during the ‘80’s self-improvement craze when fat-free was blasted on everything. This was when they invented fat-free “cheese”, a substance that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike cheese. Imagine melting yellow fisher price plastic over your steamed broccoli and you get the idea.” 

When one person shared that their mom thought meatballs were just ground turkey, unseasoned, put into balls, and baked, another said: “‘This reminds me of my mother’s meatloaf recipe. It’s ground beef, a packet of Lipton onion soup mix and…that’s it. It had the density of a wet brick and not as much flavor.”

One person simply said, “This was my parents when the foreman grill came out,” and a lot of people did Foreman grill slander on the thread, which in my personal opinion is ridiculous — panini press! Grilled chicken! — but that might be my 90’s kid showing. 

Other Redditors brought up the scourge of boiled vegetables, which made an entire generation of kids think brussels sprouts were gross. The original poster at some point noted that so many kids probably think they’re picky eaters when in reality their parents just can’t cook for s**t. But the worst response? “Washed chicken with soap… I win,” wrote u/wookiehealer, winning a contest that truly no one wants to win.