13 vintage turkey recipes that would ruin anybody's Thanksgiving

Enjoy this heaping second helping of Turkey Day's most dismal dishes.

Breaking the wishbone is a Thanksgiving tradition revisited by many families for decades. Unfortunately, for some brave feastgoers in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, some experimental turkey dishes from probably fell in that category, too.

Don't blame mom, though. Blame the subtle, sentimental genius of early ads in Ladies Home Journal or Better Homes and Gardens that convinced home chefs to toss the traditional turkey aside and instead dice up the turkey with bits of pineapple and suspend it all in strawberry Jell-O, with a thick base of cream cheese for good measure. It's all your favorite tastes, just served up in a vastly different way!

In some homes, instead of gravy and cranberry sauce, there was Cheez Whiz and Campbell's creamy soup. To today's fresh-obsessed families, it seems like turkey anarchy with an extra heaping of mayo.

Did any of these turkey plates and platters below find their way into your family recipe Rolodex? Stick out your plate and scroll below for a second helping of Turkey Day's most dismal dishes.

1. Turkey in Aspic


What's in it: turkey, eggs, asparagus spears, pimiento strops, gelatin, chicken broth, onion, lemon juice, horseradish, parsley

Perfect for that rare Thanksgiving feast where everyone's counting calories?

Image: vintagerecipecards.com/Better Homes and Gardens

2. Tangy Creamed Turkey


What's in it: margarine, mushrooms, onion, turkey, green pepper, green peas, mayonnaise, pimiento, yogurt, saffron rice

Creamy-mayo-mushy-pea-pimiento goodness!

Image: clickamericana.com

3. Tempting Turkey


What's in it: turkey, Cheez Whiz, broccoli, bread

Nothing says home-cookin' like "Nut-Sweet Swiss Flavor Cheez Whiz Pasteurized Process Cheese Spread"!

Image: clickamericana.com

4. Turkey Cheese Ball


What's in it: cream cheese, turkey, toasted almonds, mayonnaise, chutney, curry powder, parsley, crackers

Nobody will be quite sure what they're eating exactly, but one thing's for sure: You'll have a ball!

Image: clickamericana.com

5. Turkey-Mushroom Salad


What's in it: turkey, mushrooms, celery, pimiento-stuffed olives, mayonnaise, lemon juice, onion, Romaine lettuce

The 1970s were all about variety in your salad — and pimiento everything.

Image: badanduglyofretrofood.com

6. Turkey Layer Loaf


What's in it: jellied cranberry sauce, gelatin, turkey, celery, stuffed olives, mayonnaise

When we imagine a relaxing Thanksgiving day, this is not the kind of loafing we had in mind.

Image: clickamericana.com

7. Turkey Fruit Salad


What's in it: turkey, apple, walnuts, grapes, pineapple, mayonnaise

Just in case that savory mushroom salad wasn't doing it for you, there's always the turkey fruit salad, shown here in a cranberry Jell-O bowl, because of course.

Image: Ladies Home Journal

8. Turkey Fruit Salad


What's in it: turkey, pineapple, grapes, apple, walnuts, mayonnaise, gelatin, cranberry juice, peaches, cream cheese, celery, lemon juice

This is like the last turkey fruit salad on steroids. It's all combined into one giant turkey mass, with a cream cheese base sturdied by crunchy chunks of celery.

Image: clickamericana.com

9. Cranberry-Orange Ring


What's in it: oranges, strawberry Jell-O, jellied cranberry sauce, chopped nuts, turkey, celery, mayonnaise

It's all about presentation when you're mixing turkey cubes, Jell-O, nuts and mayo.

10. Golden Turkey Salad


What's in it: turkey, peaches, olives, lettuce, hot biscuits

The trick to the golden turkey salad? Garnish, garnish, garnish.

Image: Ladies Home Journal

11. Holiday Turkey Salad


What's in it: turkey, celery, orange slices, French dressing or mayonnaise, salad greens

Feeling festive? Swap out the mayo for French dressing and embrace that holiday zest!

Image: clickamericana.com

12. Turkey-Apple Bake


What's in it: onion, butter, condensed cream of chicken or mushroom soup, nutmeg, turkey, apples, raisins

Is it dinner? Dessert? We'll tell you one thing. It's the '50s.

Image: Ladies Home Journal

13. Sociable Crackers


What's in it: turkey, cranberry

"The most partyable snack crackers" in 1963 came with tons of suggestions for canapés we'd likely pass up as picky kids, including the little bites shown here.

Image: Ladies Home Journal

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wanderer2575 6 months ago
Want to see more? Check out James Lileks' "Gallery of Regrettable Food" at http://www.lileks.com/institute/gallery/index.html
BradBeall 6 months ago
A few of these don't sound too bad, especially that turkey-apple bake! I used to get a couple thick slices of cold, leftover turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, slice up a couple leftover brussels sprouts, and pile all of that between a couple slices of wheat bread. held together with toothpicks, you then "dunk" the sammich into a bowl of warm leftover gravy as you eat! Serious food for the serious munchies!
TheSentinel BradBeall 6 months ago
The turkey mushroom salad's also a good use of Thanksgiving leftovers.
MichaelVegas 6 months ago
Excuse me think I have to throw up a few times, I mean Okay Turkey and Mayo that is a good sandwich, but then add things like Apples, green olives and such,....
wbodine112 6 months ago
What's with all the mayonnaise?? I mean, it's good on a sandwich, but not much else. And I'll never understand the past's fascination with gelatin. And I was there.
CouchPotato19 wbodine112 6 months ago
It was Space Age food, I guess!
Rhard 6 months ago
Pardon me while I head out to McDonald for Lunch!
timothys71 6 months ago
I will admit that I have a sense of adventure when it comes to food, but I think some of those actually look pretty good.
rvoyttbots 6 months ago
Jello with chunks of turkey in it. Urp!
TheSentinel rvoyttbots 6 months ago
Who comes up with those kinds of recipes, anyway?
rvoyttbots 6 months ago
Jerllo with chunks of turkey in it.

jvf 6 months ago
I'd try #5 and #12. They don't sound too bad. The others---pass.
CouchPotato19 jvf 6 months ago
And you WILL pass after eating it.
jvf CouchPotato19 6 months ago
Ha! Love it!!!
WGH 6 months ago
If you served any of these dishes at your Thanksgiving dinner, I would get up and leave. Life is too short.
pony WGH 6 months ago
Take me with you.
LalaLucy 6 months ago
Ick. What's with all the mayonnaise? These all sound disgusting.
tootsieg 6 months ago
Not one recipe looks appetizing. Even the salads look yuck. Are those sardines on the crackers???
Rob 7 months ago
Yuck! All these recipes look terrible!
Pacificsun 7 months ago
When we ran our website we offered a niche just for nostalgia. And reprinted recipes from the "File of Regrettable Food." Hilarious!! And our readers always asked ... "Why?!"

MrsPhilHarris 7 months ago
I know most people feel like vomiting but I’ll try just about any food once. 🤭
cheryl1725 7 months ago
I just threw up in my mouth.🤮
justjeff 7 months ago
ERF! The only one I could posisbly tolerate would be the turkey mushroom salad... and that, only if there was nothing else in the fridge...🙄
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