Labor Day Barbecue Menu – Tested Vintage and Retro Recipes From Mid-Century Menu

Posted on Aug 29 2013 - 6:20am by RetroRuth

Ahh, Labor Day, where everything is last minute. Last minute back-to-school shopping. Last minute gardening. Last minute vacations. But your Labor Day Cookout doesn’t need to be last minute! Here on Mid-Century Menu we have tested hundreds of vintage and retro recipes, and put together this fun, retro-party menu for your Labor Day Bash!

Labor Day Cookout Menu

Spiced Lemonade


Really good. Different from usual lemonade. I totally didn’t think that cloves and cinnamon would be good partners with lemon, but it seriously was amazing. Tom liked his with ginger ale, since it was a bit sweeter, but I liked the kind made with plain water since I like a little bit of pucker in my lemonade.

Cracker Kabobs


Fun. Basically just cheese and crackers jammed in a grapefruit. Definitely a different way to serve snacks.  Some bologna or  sausage can be substituted for the Spam, or you can just leave it out altogether. A big plus is how easy it is!

Cheese Frankfurter Loaf


Surprisingly, the cut-loaf method actually WORKED, and each section made it’s own little bun. So you could pulled pre-bunned hot dogs straight from the loaf.  It was pretty cool.  The hot dogs and the cheese were good, but the sauce could have been left off. It tasted like sloppy joe sauce, and not really something that I would pair with hot dogs. I would substitute barbecue sauce or chili dog sauce instead!

Potato Salad Gelatin Mold


As crazy as this sounds, this thing was actually really good. The flavors and the seasonings were well-balanced without being bland or boring, and the potato salad, while congealed enough to mold, wasn’t so hard that it actually tasted like gelatin. It tasted like a regular, old-fashioned classic potato salad, a good one, except a little more firm. If you aren’t a big fan of how goopy potato salad can get sometimes, this might be your answer. And the olives and pimentos were a really good addition. If you are having a retro-themed cookout, or even a regular one, this potato salad is a must!

Carrot and Pineapple Salad


Good. Classic gelatin salad. Pineapple in heavy syrup is delicious.

Black Magic Cake With Condensed Tomato Soup


Amazing! Tom has decided this is his new favorite chocolate cake, and I am never to make a different one again. Ever. It was moist, very chocolaty, had an excellent depth of flavor provided by the tomato soup and it was very stable. I was easily able to bake it in two 8 inch layer pans, turn the cakes out with no problems AND split each layer with no turntable and just a serrated knife. The layers took quite a bit of flapping back and forth as I filled the cake, and never once cracked or crumbled. And this sucker stayed moist, too. Three days later I got an email from our neighbor who took leftover cake home, exclaiming on how moist the cake still was. You can also take the easy way out and bake it in a 13×9 pan and it still turns out fantastic.

*Note – The layer cake is frosted with Vintage Bakery Frosting, and filled with a vintage chocolate frosting/filling.

No matter what you make for your meal hope you have a great Labor Day!

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (, No Pattern Required (, and I Ate The 80's (

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4 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. CM Doran August 29, 2013 at 10:24 pm - Reply

    I loved your show on Central Time today!
    I read Thunder Cake tonight to the kids and found out the Grandmother was Russian, not Polish.
    Author is Patricia Polacco
    All the best with your blog!

  2. Amy August 29, 2013 at 11:50 pm - Reply

    I do remember the old toothpicks covered in cheeses/pickles/crackers etc when I was growing up in the 1960s. Timeless really!

  3. Dan August 30, 2013 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    I could cook this entire menu for my elderly parents, who came of age and started our family in the very early 1960s, and they wouldn’t understand that it is retro. They would just think I was finally serving them some decent food! And I can almost promise that my mother would think the cracker kabobs were the most clever and elegant thing in the entire world of fine dining.

    • dkzody September 2, 2013 at 10:19 pm - Reply

      Although not elderly, but I remember all these foods, except that potato salad in gelatin. I would chuckle if someone made it and invited us over.

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