20 Gross Recipes Our Species Actually Used to Eat

Mustafa Gatollari - Author

Mar. 17 2021, Updated 10:03 a.m. ET

20 Old School Recipes That People Used to Actually Eat
Source: Instagram

It's easy to forget that people from the past were just that: people. It's difficult to imagine that they enjoyed engaging in leisure activities and had all of the same trappings of humanity that we do. That they fell in love, became jealous, got constipated, and even fancied delicious food. However, food offerings have indubitably changed a lot over time.

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A lot of that has to do with the availability of ingredients. If something wasn't endemic to your area, it's not like you could very well just go and experiment with it in the kitchen, as it costs a ton of money to do so. If you were paying a ton of dough to get your hands on some cherries, you're probably just going to enjoy those suckers instead of figuring out a way to use them in a dessert, not on a fruit that'll cost you roughly the equivalent of a quarter of an acre of land.

This forced people to get creative with their recipes. Whether it's baking desserts with tomato soup or potatoes, or creating jellies out of coca-cola and raisins, there are some strange cookbook recipes that sound revolting but in some cases, actually ended up turning out quite good. And, for the record, I said some cases, there's no way you're going to convince me congealed potato salad is delicious.

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Tomato Soup Cake

tomato soup cake
Source: Instagram

This is more of a "spice" cake and some people who've tried it can't believe that it tastes like chocolate. A TikTok-er actually put this recipe to the test and thought the results were fantastic. Learn how to make it here.

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Chocolate Potato Cake

chocolate potato cake
Source: Instagram
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Chocolate and potatoes probably don't go well together, but if you've tried chocolate covered potato chips, then you'd know that's entirely wrong. This recipe is apparently responsible for winning a contest, and it tastes so incredible, that this guy is "mad about it."

Jellied Tomato Refresher

jellied tomato refresher
Source: Weight Watchers
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Are you a fan of Italian ice? What if they had all the flavor of a non-alcoholic Bloody Mary with what is quite possibly the worst name ever? Learn more about it from deMilked.


  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 3 cups tomato juice
  • 2 tablespoons dehydrated green pepper flakes
  • Artificial sweetener to equal 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 packet instant beef broth and seasoning mix or 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 medium green pepper, cut in rings (optional)

Milk and 7-Up.

up milk
Source: Twitter
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Want your soda to coat your mouth a little better? Hate drinking normal beverages? Then add equal parts Seven Up lemon lime flavored soda with whole milk and proceed to be disgusted. Has anyone ever tried this? 

Piquant Herring Salad

piquant herring salad
Source: Tumblr
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Nothing like lemon juice and sour cream mixed with pickled herring and apples! Check out the ingredients below, but if you actually want to take a stab at it, here you go.

Baked Bean Surprise

baked bean surprise
Source: Twitter
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Not the kind of surprise anyone is looking forward to, I assure you. Who wouldn't love the extreme flavor of mint with BEANS?

Bacon Prune Sandwich Spread.

bacon prune sandwich spread
Source: Twitter
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People need to chill with these sandwich spread recipes. I don't know what they were thinking when they published this stuff but it really does need to stop.

Heinz Ketchup "Carnival" Ice Cream

ketchup ice cream carnival
Source: Tumblr
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There's a home version of this that includes toasted almonds and maraschino cherries. Want to slurp this down on a hot summer's day? If so, check out the recipe here.

Beef Tea

beef tea recipe
Source: History
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Who hasn't wanted to unwind in the evening with some hot, beef-flavored water?

Ham and Bananas Hollandaise

ham and bananas hollandaise
Source: Tumblr
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If bananas and ham weren't bad enough, why not slather some hot mayonnaise all over it?

Almonds in a Haystack.

almonds in a haystack
Source: Tumblr
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Who doesn't love a canned home slathered in Miracle Whip and covered in almonds? Learn how to make this monstrosity here.

Terrine of Garden Vegetables

terrine of garden vegetables
Source: Tumblr
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Don't know what do you with all of your vegetables? Maybe heat them up like a normal person, or put them in a jellied monstrosity for "easier" eating.

Frankfurter Pie

frankfurter pie
Source: Tumblr
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It appears to be a bunch of slices of bread, topped with hot dogs and sauerkraut. Call it a pie and you're done.

Party Sandwich

party sandwich
Source: Tumblr
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Multiple slices of bread layered with sandwich fixin's, but then you coat it with miracle whip or mayonnaise instead. Ick.

Shrimp Mold

shrimp aspic mold
Source: Tumblr
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What's the matter? You don't like your shellfish suspended in a mold of cold gelatin?

Spam and Lima Beans

spam lima beans
Source: Tumblr
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You heard the advertisement: cold or hot, Spam hits the spot. No thanks.

Baked Tuna Ring

baked tuna ring
Source: Tumblr
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It's probably not as offensive as some of the other entries on this list...but, would you really want to make this? Why do all of these foods look like alien weapons?

Lime Cheese Salad

lime cheese salad
Source: Tumblr
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Yes because nothing screams mealtime satisfaction like a combination of Jell-O and Tuna Fish.

Jell-O Filled Shaved Melon Coated in Cream Cheese

screenshot from
Source: Tumblr
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The advertisement brags that this monster melon manages to be both a salad and a dessert at the same time. How is that even possible.

Perfection Salad

perfection salad
Source: Tumblr

The name might seem like an oxymoron, but you'll be sure it's a sick joke once you read the recipe. Would you like to try and make this yourself?

Here's what's in it:

  • 2 envelopes unflavored gelatine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can (12 oz) apple juice
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 cup shredded carrot 1 cup sliced celery
  • 1 cup finely shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 can (4 oz) chopped pimiento
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