So, if you have been following our Facebook page, you may have seen a preview of this lovely thing this week.  Apparently, since Tom had nothing better to do, he convinced me to try the most disgusting mid-century gelatin recipe we have ever found.

This is California Prune Cream Salad.


Is it just me, or does this look like something from the Jim Henson Creature Shop?  I feel like at any minute it’s going to blink it’s prune eyes and start talking.

It’s…looking at you.

California Prune Cream Salad001


In my defense, I wanted to make the prune chocolate cake on the next page. But Tom latched on to this one and would Not. Let. Go.


And now that you have seen cottage cheese, prunes and chili sauce together in a bowl, let’s have a little chat about food trends gone amok.

Prunes Add Variety001

Prunes Add Variety, 1934.

In every interview I’ve every given, one of the first questions anyone ever asks is, “Why was gelatin so popular? What was the fascination?”

As I make more and more mid-century food, I’ve realized something. It wasn’t just gelatin that was popular. Salads and the idea of the salad course was a trend. All salads – green, fruit, gelatin – they were all popular. I think we, right now, tend to focus more on the gelatin aspect of everything because they are, to us, the most bizarre. The vintage gelatin pictures most offend our modern palates.  And yes, gelatin salads probably edged out others in magazines and books just because they were showier and “glamorous”, but other salads and salad trends were just as popular on everyday tables.

Mayonnaise, for instance. Mayonnaise in everything and its use as an all-consuming condiment and vegetable dip. And the mixing of tomato or ketchup into salad dressings. And the serving of prunes or other fruit with cottage cheese.

What I am trying to say is – this salad abuses more than one popular salad trend. On paper, this would seem like the trendiest salad you could make in the 1930’s. The only thing that could make this more on trend in the 1930’s would be if it was frozen.


In reality, all it ends up being is a giant, smelly mess.


Psych-ing himself up. Did I mention how bad this thing smelled???? It smelled rotten before I even finished mixing it.



“How is it?”

“Oh it’s….it’s great.”


“Yeah, great….best thing I’ve ever had. You should try some.”

“You’re lying aren’t you?”

“A little. This is the worst thing ever.”

“That’s what I thought. You can stop making that face now.”

“I can’t, I’m trying not to cry.”

The Verdict: So Bad, It Makes Grown Men Cry

From The Tasting Notes –

This may quite possibly take the #1 spot as the worst thing we’ve ever made here on MCM. This was bad. And not, “Ha ha…this is so funky” bad, this was legitimately horrible. Absolutely horrible. The smell alone was enough to peel paint, and the salad itself was horrific.  It never really set up in any way into something that you could slice. The best way to describe the texture would be “glorpy”. It was a gooey, sticky mess. The only texture change in the whole thing was the sweet pickles.  And they weren’t a good addition. The flavor had absolutely nothing redeeming in it. There was no “Well, maybe if we left out this or that.” No. This was all around bad. The sweet pickles were overpowering, and mixed horribly with the prunes and gave off a flavor that can only be described as bile. The mayo, cottage cheese and chili sauce didn’t do much but gum everything up, so much so that when you took a bite you weren’t really tasting them so much as trying to figure out how a bite of silly putty got in your mouth. Horrible. Absolutely, totally horrible.

And it was all Tom’s idea.