No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without a Thanksgiving casserole recipe, no matter how weird they may get. The casserole has been a classic staple of middle American cuisine since its heyday in the 1950s, back when processed foods were not only economical but also all the rage. While we've undoubtedly encountered more delectable hot dish varieties in our own time, let's take a moment to revisit some of the less palatable interpretations from yesteryear, with nine casseroles that shouldn't exist, but did.
The semi-solid, semi-liquid comfort food of American suburbia made and still makes appearances at many a picnic, church gathering, and family reunion. This vintage recipe roundup includes casseroles we hope never to see amongst our own Thanksgiving spreads, but were once not only acceptable but advertised. These retro ads depict canned concoctions and mystery meat melanges that make Mama June's no-bake tuna noodle casserole look enlightened. Kudos are in order for the innovation behind some of these throwback hot dishes. Who knew Goldfish crackers would be just the thing for that added crunch? Overdue for clearing out the fridge? Scrape out your leftovers, add spaghetti, and dinner is served! The casserole isn't going anywhere, especially during the holidays, so this season take the time to be thankful that the following now only exist in their preserved Technicolor glory.
1. Veg-All Tuna Casserole
Get your daily serving with this thrifty, colorful, and (probably not) nutritional dish.
2. "Inner Man" Satisfying Casserole
Among the various "Men Only" food advertisements of the era, this was particularly amusing. "Satisfy 'em" with this economical dish man enough for their "lumberjack appetite" while keeping "your budget in line."
1952 A&P Ann Page Beans and Ralston Instant Hot Wheat Cereal Advertisement, $14.95, Etsy
3. Italian Style Casserole
Go "authentic Italian" in 30 minutes with this old-world marriage of Heinz spaghetti and "meat mixture."
4. Velveeta Tomato
You know you're having guests over when you get the Velveeta out.
5. Spam Casserole
For your daily fix of "vital meat protein," add a little of America's favorite mystery meat to any dish. Here, just combine with baked beans, cheese, and ketchup, and you're good to go with a balanced meal.
6. Prem Canned Meat Casserole
If you don't trust Spam, Prem gives you selected cuts of meats under a different name. Layer on top of any casserole for "real pork flavor."
7. Vienna Sausage Casserole
True meat lovers might prefer canned protein of a "truer" variety with this beef and pork blend. The straightforward recipe skips the chopping and stirring. Just leave the sausages whole, and dump on top. "You'll find it makes a tasty change to the hamburger meat routine."
8. Sausage Noodle Bake
The recipe calls for one cup of bite-size shredded corn biscuits (in layman's terms: Chex Mix). Not quite puppy chow, this savory treat brings together American staples like canned cream of mushroom soup, processed American cheese, and evaporated milk for a result that probably wouldn't make Uncle Sam very proud.
9. Leftovers Casserole
The prize for most economical goes to this recipe, which promises that "the remnants of yesterday's roast can return to your table today." The advertisement asks, "What have you left in your refrigerator?" and reassures that "no matter what the leftover meat, a feast is possible." Yum!