Retro Reimagined

Photography by Kingmond Young

The arrival of the baby boomer generation accompanied a cultural shift in American lifestyles, including diet. After World War II, Americans embraced speed, portability and convenience over long hours spent in the kitchen, and the decades that followed saw the rise of TV dinners, drive-through restaurants and quick-cooking meals. Not all of these broad changes to the American diet were necessarily healthful; sometimes a gain in efficiency was accompanied by a decline in nutrition.

However, the foods we grow up with often hold a sentimental place at our tables. Food & Nutrition looks at six midcentury food innovations and iconic dishes and, with our Stone Soup bloggers, transforms them into creative, contemporary recipes.

Heinz ® Ketchup Packets. Heinz Ketchup was introduced in 1876, but the first individual foil ketchup packets didn’t appear until 1968. Driven by the burgeoning fast food industry, Heinz piped its ketchup into portable packets. Reduced risk of contamination was another benefit of the new packaging.

Pop-tarts. The name “Pop-tart” is a play on “pop art” popularized by Andy Warhol’s Campbell's Soup Cans in 1962. First tested in Cleveland in 1963, Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts originally came in blueberry, apple currant, strawberry and cinnamon flavors.

Granny Smith Apples. These tart apples originated in Australia in the 1860s, but it would be 100 years before growers in Washington would begin producing Granny Smiths. The Beatles featured this bright green apple as the logo for their record label, Apple Records, founded in 1968.

Instant Coffee. Popular with World War II vets, instant coffee had a comeback in the 1960s. Before the advent of electric drip coffee brewers in the 1970s, coffee drinkers mostly relied on percolators. Instant coffee appealed to people because it was convenient and fast.

Meatloaf. Meatloaf was popularized during the Great Depression when meat was often stretched with fillers such as dried bread, crackers or oats. But it was in the 1950s and 1960s that meatloaf took off as a dish that allowed home cooks to demonstrate their creativity. Grocery stores started selling a “meatloaf mix” comprised of ground pork, ground beef and ground veal.

Jell-O®. In 1964, the slogan “There’s always room for Jell-O” debuted and Jell-O claimed its title as a “light dessert.” Jell-O salads and desserts were ubiquitous in the 1950s and 1960s. Simple versions were everyday desserts, while more elaborate mixtures and molds were saved for company or holidays.

Blueberry Chipotle Ketchup

Developed by Alexandra Caspero, MA, RD

Serves 16

1 pound red tomatoes (about 3 large), skinned with seeds removed
12 ounces blueberries
8 ounces tomato paste
1 canned chipotle pepper
2 teaspoons adobo sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar


  1. Place tomatoes and blueberries into a blender. Puree until smooth. Strain the blueberry and tomato mixture into a medium saucepan using a fine sieve or colander lined with cheesecloth. Use a spatula to remove as much juice as possible, while leaving the blueberry skins behind.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the saucepan; whisk and bring to a boil. Stirring often, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat, let cool and return to blender. Puree until smooth.
  3. To store, pour ketchup into a container, cool and refrigerate. For longer storage, funnel hot ketchup into clean mason jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath canner for 20 minutes.

Coffee-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

Developed by Kristina LaRue, RD

Serves 4

IngredientsRetro Reimagined -
2 tablespoons instant coffee
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground paprika
½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound pork tenderloin
1 tablespoon fig preserves


  1. Arrange oven racks for broiling, about 5 inches from top of oven. Preheat oven to 500°F and place broiler pan in oven. In a small bowl, whisk together coffee, garlic, salt, sugar and all spices. Liberally coat the pork tenderloin with coffee rub and place in oven on broiler pan. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping halfway, until meat reaches an internal temperature of 145°F. Spread the fig preserves on top of pork with 3 minutes cooking time remaining. Allow pork to rest 5 minutes before slicing. Slice evenly into medallions about 1-inch thick.

Mediterranean Meatless Lentil Loaf

Developed by Brieanna Casperson, DTR

Serves 9

½ large yellow onion, thinly sliced
Retro Reimagined -1⁄8 cup + 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar½ medium eggplant
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups cooked green lentils
10 medium white mushrooms, quartered
½ cup vegetable broth
1 cup multigrain pita chip crumbs
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup + 1⁄8 cup reduced-fat feta, divided
2 tablespoons parsley (stems removed), chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1⁄16 teaspoon dried nutmeg
2 medium-sized plum tomatoes, diced


  1. Prepare the caramelized onions. Coat an 8-inch cast-iron skillet or thick-bottomed sauté pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Heat the skillet on medium-high heat until oil begins to shimmer and add onion slices, stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook for 10 minutes, stir intermittently. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the balsamic vinegar.
  2. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400° F.
  3. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise into 8 strips roughly 2 inches wide and then cut strips widthwise into 8 sections. Place the eggplant pieces onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Brush the piece with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place in oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown and soft. Remove eggplant pieces, place in a bowl, add lemon juice and toss to coat each piece. Combine parsley, diced tomatoes, 1⁄8 cup feta in a small bowl. Set both aside.
  4. Adjust oven to 350°F. In a food processor or blender, pulse lentils and mushrooms until texture is grainy and roughly combined. Scoop the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the pita crumbs, eggplant, onions, 1⁄4 cup feta, garlic, oregano, 1⁄8 cup olive oil and broth until evenly combined. Transfer the lentil loaf contents into a 9 x 5-inch nonstick loaf pan and smooth top with a spatula. Bake for 25 minutes, remove from oven and sprinkle nutmeg, and tomato, parsley and feta mix evenly over the top. Return to oven and bake for 5 more minutes. Remove and let loaf rest for 15 to 30 minutes or until it feels firm enough to slice.

Indian-spiced Apple Tarts

Developed by Natalia Stasenko, MS, RD, CDN

Serves 6


PastryRetro Reimagined -
2 cups whole-wheat flour, plus extra for dusting
¼ teaspoons salt
2⁄3 cup cold vegan “butter,” cubed
3 tablespoons cold water

1 pound Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped into 1⁄3-inch cubes
2 tablespoons sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, ground cardamom and ground ginger, combined (1 teaspoon of the mix is for the filling, ½ teaspoon is for the icing)
2 tablespoons water

1 cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon spice mix
½ tablespoon vegan “butter,” melted
1 tablespoon soy milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Prepare the filling by placing chopped apples, sugar, 1 teaspoon spice mix and water in a pan.
  2. Cook on medium heat, stirring until the sugar is caramelized and apples are easy to break with a wooden spoon. Let cool slightly.
  3. Prepare the crust. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Cut in the vegan butter using a fork or pastry cutter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the cold water and knead the dough until a ball forms. (Add more water if the dough does not stick together.) Dust the working surface with flour.
  4. Flatten the dough ball into a disk, cover it with wax paper or plastic film and roll out into a square approximately 1⁄8-inch thick. Cut the dough into twelve 3 x 3-inch squares.
  5. Place 1 tablespoon of filling each on half of the squares, leaving space to seal the edges. Brush the edges with water and place the remaining squares on the top of the filling. Press edges gently with your fingers and seal carefully with a fork; do not break the pastry. Bake for 25 minutes, or until slightly brown. Let cool on a cooling rack.
  6. Combine the powdered sugar, ½ teaspoon spice mix, melted vegan butter and soy milk to make icing. Ice tarts once they are cooled.

Vegan Jello with Longan, Jackfruit and Coconut Milk

Developed by Tram Le, MS, RD

Serves 6

IngredientsRetro Reimagined -
2 cups coconut water
2⁄3 cup agar agar flakes*
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
1 20-ounce can longan (or lychee), packed in syrup, drained
1 20-ounce can jackfruit, packed in syrup, drained and sliced into ½-inch pieces
1 14-ounce can light coconut milk


  1. Combine and refrigerate longan and sliced jackfruit. Add coconut water to a small saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking in the agar agar flakes and 3 tablespoons sugar. Bring to a boil, whisking every 30 seconds to dissolve the flakes. After 5 minutes, pour into an 8 x 8-inch square baking pan. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds evenly into the jello mixture. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Combine the coconut milk with 2 tablespoons sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat until simmering, then cool and refrigerate. To make the fruit salad, cut the vegan jello into 1-inch squares, gently combine with the longan and jackfruit, and pour 2 to 3 tablespoons of coconut milk over each 1-cup serving.

Erin Sund
Erin Sund was an editor with Food & Nutrition Magazine.