I grew up in Southern California during the 1970s. And one of my favorite things to do when it was hot outside (which was every day during the summer) was pester my grandma to take me to Baskin Robbins. Would I get a single scoop of bubble gum ice cream on a sugar cone? Would I get a banana split with extra hot fudge? Would I get diabetes by the age of 14? The answer to all these questions was no.
But what I would get was an ice cream clown. You guys remember ice cream clowns, right? They were upside ice cream cones decorated to look like adorable (and often terrifying) clowns.
They were so popular when I was a kid that Baskin Robbins even made a fake one you could play with.
Because nothing screams fun like plastic ice cream you can’t eat.
The 1970s were a magical time. Ice cream clowns were just the tip of the “food made to look like other things” iceberg. You know what’s more fun than an ice cream cone that looks like a clown? A bologna loaf that looks like a clown. That’s right, folks. I’m talking about Meat Clowns.
Meat clowns were a staple of kids’ lunches in the UK and Europe, and eventually they made it over to America. Because what kid wouldn’t want to sink their teeth into a juicy slice of pork clown face?
But the pressed meat industry didn’t just stop at clowns. They also made meat bears…
…and even a meat Bernie Sanders.
Like I said, the ‘70s were a magical time. We liked to eat things that looked like other things. Especially during special occasions. Got a wedding coming up? Why not make it extra romantic with a bridal meat doll?
Can’t think of what to bring to your family’s Thanksgiving dinner? Just whip up some cranberry candles. Because who isn’t thankful for a gelatinous cranberry tube that you can set on fire? Communists, that’s who.
Christmas in the 1970s really pulled out all the stops when it came to anthropomorphic food. Sure, you might have looked forward to candy canes or maybe some homemade cookies when you went to grandma’s house for the holidays. But not at my Gram’s. She’d kick off the festivities with her version of this glorious deli meat tree.
Next up would be a heaping helping of Meatloaf Santa.
And when she really wanted to kick it up a notch? She’d break out the Mayo Snowman.
Although she preferred Best Foods mayo. So suck it, Hellmann’s!
I’m not kidding when I say my grandmother made her version of all these things during the holidays. We didn’t have a lot of money, so she’d get creative with food to make things fun, especially at Christmas. And I loved her for it. Christmas at her house was weird and wild and memorable. I really miss her. And that weird dried beef wreath she made when I was 8.
If beef wreaths don’t scream “Merry Christmas” to you, then you must be dead inside. Like a beef wreath.