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Canned foods from the decade you were born


From the post-war home to the modern kitchen, canned food has been a staple of the American diet for decades. Here we delve into the cupboards and pantries of decades gone by to bring you some of the most nostalgic cans from your childhood. Get ready to take a bite out of yesteryear.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Another brand that thrived during and immediately after the war years was Campbell Soup Company, better known as Campbell’s. It too provided army rations, while housewives back home swore by the brand’s condensed soup range for quick and easy family dinners. A favorite pick was the hearty Vegetable-Beef Soup (alongside Tomato and plain Vegetable).



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


There were plenty more feathers in Hormel’s cap. Other 1940s favorites included Hormel Chili, dubbed a great option for lunch or Sunday supper. Hormel had such faith in the taste of its chili that the company offered a “double your money back” guarantee. The brand was also a purveyor of canned chicken and the legendary Spam meat (more on that later…).



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It wasn’t just meat that made its way into a can. Brands such as Niblets thrived in an era when having some vegetables available year-round was still a novelty and when convenience was king. Hawked with the line “the only thing missing is the cob”, this canned veg product promised an “old-time eating thrill” coupled with ease and speed.



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Another 1940s hero was the Del Monte Fruit Cocktail, a sweet offering of pineapple, cherries, peaches, pears and grapes in a can. Eaten as a quick snack or whipped into a fruit dessert, the cocktail became a pillar of the American pantry during this decade. Del Monte even came up with weird and wonderful recipes for its popular cocktail from a Party Fruit Basket (advert pictured) to a Buffet Party Loaf with luncheon meat (yes, really).



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


While Spam was the canned meat heavyweight in the 1950s, it wasn’t without some competition. Prem was another brand of canned pork and beef luncheon meat that was shipped to soldiers during the Second World War, and remained popular in the decades afterwards. Here it’s served pan-browned with jelly sauce and creamed potatoes.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Lunchmeat aside, entire meals were still being canned across the States, ready to be heated up for a quick supper. Armour Star remained a front-runner through the 1950s, with its comforting Corned Beef Hash (a satisfying mix of corned beef and potatoes) a quick-dinner winner in this decade and beyond.



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Beans were another essential in the post-war pantry and Van Camp professed themselves “the largest selling beans in all the world” in the 1950s. The brand’s perennially popular Pork and Beans were made with Van Camp’s Vienna sausage and served as a simple heat-and-go meal in busy households.



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While Pork and Beans was (and is) Van Camp’s signature product, the brand was no one-trick pony. Its meaty Chili Con Carne (pictured) was also a favorite during the post-war decades. Canned tamales sated America’s early appetite for Mexican-style food too.



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There was almost no limit on what companies would put into cans during the 1950s – leading brand Chef Boyardee even sold canned grated cheese, marketing it as the perfect accompaniment to its quick spaghetti dinner. It was also ideal for sprinkling on top of Boyardee’s canned ravioli which maintained popularity during this decade too.



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The craze for canned veg continued with Veg-All’s Mixed Vegetables – a medley of carrots, potatoes, green beans, peas and more – leading the way. Also, more than ever before, canned food companies were sharing recipe tips, suggestions and even entire cookbooks as a marketing tool for their products. Here Veg-All suggests a Pie Plate Salad and a curious-looking tuna casserole.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Come the 1960s, America’s love affair with canned food showed no sign of abating. In the 1960s, pop art artist Andy Warhol memorialized the Campbell’s can in an iconic series of paintings that remain famous to this day. Innovative flavors such as Oyster Stew became popular alongside Campbell’s classics like Tomato and Vegetable.



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This was also the decade that SpaghettiOs (known as spaghetti hoops across the pond) were invented. They were marketed (by the Campbell’s-owned Franco-American brand) as “the neat new spaghetti you can eat with a spoon”, and they were a quick hit with convenience-loving 1960s Americans. You could buy them with tomato and cheese sauce, with meatballs or little sliced franks.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


From beef and macaroni to brown bread in a can – this is one for anyone in New England. While canned bread may seem an odd concept to many across the country, B&M’s offering has been a favorite with New Englanders for decades. And several company ownership changes through the 1960s did little to dent its enduring popularity. You can buy the bread plain or with raisins, and New Englanders pair it with beans and ham or franks for a hearty breakfast or satisfying supper.



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The 1960s also saw many brands build on their established offerings, bringing out new canned foods and flavors with twists on already well-loved classics. One example was Franco-American’s new gravies. While its beef gravy was already a perennial favorite, it wasn’t long before 1960s Americans were topping their fried chicken with Golden Chicken Gravy or swamping meatloaf in a savory Brown Mushroom Gravy.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


By the 1960s, Americans had developed a taste for canned Chinese-style food and the now-defunct Chun King, founded in the 1940s, was the market leader. Sales surged through the 1950s and 1960s, and Chow Mein with chicken or mushroom was the brand’s top dish.



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Pineapple upside-down cakes were a go-to sweet treat throughout the 1960s and that meant canned pineapple slices often graced shopping lists. Leading brand Dole also sold its sweet pineapple in all manner of other ways: chunked, crushed, juiced and even in neat little spears, perfect for dessert at the 1960s dinner table.



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The 1970s were dominated by creative ads and weird and wonderful recipe suggestions. These all helped cement Chef Boyardee Spaghetti and Meatballs’ status as a decade favorite. In this 1970s ad, the warming canned dish is piled high like an ice cream sundae – apparently a ruse to get kids to tuck into their dinner.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


One of Campbell’s Chunky Soups’ main competitors in the 1970s – and indeed still today – was Progresso, who had long sold chunky, ready-to-heat-and-serve broths. The brand had many popular flavors including Chicken Noodle, New England Clam Chowder, Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, and Minestrone.



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The taste for meaty mains straight from a can continued throughout the decade. Hunt’s Manwich Original Sloppy Joe Sauce was invented right at the end of the 1960s and proved popular through the 1970s. For a quick evening meal, cooks would add the tomatoey sauce to ground beef and pile the mix into a hamburger bun – and voilà, a classic sloppy joe. You can still buy the mix in grocery stores today.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Canned spinach was another pantry staple, with canned food brand Allens using muscly cartoon character Popeye as a mascot and product name. In fact, in the 1980s, Alma in Arkansas, dubbed itself the “Spinach Capital of the World”, since it was the location of the Allens company and its mounds of canned spinach.



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Despite all the ‘healthier’ alternatives, there was still plenty of room for some good old-fashioned meat and beans in a can. Van Camp’s Beanee Weenees – baked beans with little frankfurter chunks – remained popular throughout this decade, especially for a quick TV dinner.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


While you were unlikely to have drunk a SlimFast shake as a child, you may well have seen one lurking in the kitchen cupboard. Diet company SlimFast, still in operation today, surged in popularity through the 1990s, with celebrities waxing lyrical about the effects of its products. The meal replacement shakes in a can were among the most popular products.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


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