A Dose of Food Nostalgia

For Flora June’s birthday last week, we asked her what she wanted for breakfast in bed. One of her requests was orange juice, and at the grocery store, Ben Blair picked up a can of frozen concentrate. When they saw it, our kids were like ????

I laughed and showed them how to pull the white tab till the lid pops, how to run it under hot water so that the concentrate will slip out in one piece, how to fill the tube with water three times, and that it takes way longer to dissolve then you think, so keep stirring. (You can add frozen OJ to the list of things to entertain your kids this summer. Hah!)

The frozen concentrate was unfamiliar, but not because we make a point of avoiding frozen concentrate. We don’t. We just don’t really buy any orange juice products at the grocery store… pretty much ever. And we’re not the only ones, I read back in 2016 that the whole market had almost disappeared. In fact, seeing the can that Ben brought home made me realize I couldn’t even picture where it is stocked at our grocery store — Ben said he passed by three times before he found the frozen cans almost hidden at the bottom of the dessert freezer compartment.

We got such a kick out of showing the kids the frozen orange juice and telling them about how it was such a staple in our childhoods. I mean, OJ for breakfast was a thing.

I started remembering how frozen concentrated juice had a whole micro-culture going on. Like I remember the grape juice didn’t freeze as solid as the orange juice, so you could dump it out of the tube without running the container under hot water. And I remember being so jealous of a neighbor’s pitcher (I assume Tupperware?) that came with a sort-of grid attachment, that would help dissolve the concentrate more quickly. Talk about a specialized kitchen product. Hah!

The nostalgia was fun, and it got me thinking about other foods from my childhood that have almost disappeared from grocery stores.

Kool-aid was a staple for sure — I can picture the little paper packets in the cupboard. And I had strong opinions about which flavors were best (I hated anything blue). We would dump in — per the instructions of course — a full cup of sugar as we mixed it up. And if we were really lucky, we could use it to make tooth-pick popsicles with the ice cube trays. Of course the toothpicks never froze straight and were pretty much useless as popsicle handles — but the idea of being able to make your own popsicles was irresistible!

Bologna sandwiches were also a staple at our house. There was always a big stack of bologna in one of the fridge drawers. And if a sandwich seemed like too much work, I would just gobble down the bologna slices on their own. I LOVED bologna as a child, but I don’t think I’ve ever bought it as an adult, or served it to my kids.

Of course, the reverse is also true. There are foods that are staples in our house now, that were never served in my house as a child — avocados instantly come to mind.

How about you? Do you have any nostalgia foods from your childhood? Or foods that you eat all the time now but that you hadn’t heard of as a kid? Are there any particular foods that you miss that seem to have disappeared from grocery stores? Lastly, are there any memorable food products from your childhood that you still eat today?

P.S. — The food nostalgia, combined with last week’s birthdays, also reminded me of what birthday parties were like when I was a kid. I have no idea if they still do, but I remember McDonalds offered an in-restaurant birthday party option. As a child I was in awe of the whole idea. You can have a birthday party at McDonalds?!! Woah. I couldn’t imagine anything more extravagant than that, and assumed it was something only rich people could do.

129 thoughts on “A Dose of Food Nostalgia”

  1. When my last child was in elementary school all she wanted was bologna sandwiches for lunch. At some point I decided that was too much bologna and started substituting deli turkey. She obediently took turkey sandwiches to school every day and one day told me the entire elementary school had been evacuated due to a terrible smell in the building. They finally traced it to my daughter’s locker and the dozens of uneaten rotting turkey sandwiches. Good lesson for me and we went back to bologna.

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