Yes, there is an expiration date on trends.
After paging through stacks of dusty, fragile Taste sections -- some of which date back 40 years -- here's a lesson I've learned: No expiration date is briefer than one that's stamped on a trend. Particularly when it comes to recipes.
In the late 1970s, when cooking with convenience-minded products was all the rage, Taste was endorsing an eye-rolling blend of nonfat dry milk powder, powdered sugar, instant coffee, non-dairy creamer and hot water for an on-the-go "Coffee 'N' Cream Mix." Another doozy: Arranging frozen bread dough in a Bundt pan and sprinkling it with butterscotch pudding mix, brown sugar and melted butter for "Overnight Butterscotch Rolls." Thanks, but no thanks.
For some long-ago Taste recipes, what happened in the past is probably best left there. After all, it was a time when paprika was considered a daring spice, and fresh produce was rarely a consideration. Typical is the blander-than-bland recipe for "Microwave Vegetable Rice," part of a 1978 feature on then-newfangled microwave ovens (author Peggy Katalinich noted that her oven cost $400, roughly $1,300 in today's dollars). The recipe required water, chicken bouillon cubes, a can of mixed vegetables and white rice.
I'm ashamed to admit that some recipes have done nothing but trigger uncontrollable laughter (the guffaws came to an abrupt stop as I wondered whether readers in 2050 will have the same uncharitable reaction toward my work). What can I say? I'm powerless to resist the freak-me-out factor of, say, "Hot Dog Pie:"
"Mix together Bisquick, eggs and milk to make a batter," read the directions. "Pour into a 9- by 13-inch pan. Press hot dogs down into batter until covered. Bake in a 325-degree oven until bread is done."
Yikes. Or who would have thought that the road to refreshing beverages was paved with tomato sauce, 7-Up and crushed ice? Taste did, and we're sorry.
Poll: Which 2013 Taste Holiday Cookie Contest entry do you most want to try?