The ‘80s were a crazy time for everyone, from the most powerful Gordon Gekko clones to those who were just trying to get their groove on but nevertheless had to wear stupid neon pants, and perhaps no one was more confused than food companies. Over the course of this decade that was mostly fueled by cocaine and hairspray, they apparently figured that what we actually ate didn’t much matter and took the opportunity to get weird with it.


Sizzlean commercial


If all that Lean Cuisine and Diet Coke left you sobbing for even one slice of bacon, there was a product for that, too. Sizzlean was a Frankenbacon of various meats pulverized beyond recognition, but at least it -- yeah, nope, it still had almost as much fat as regular bacon.


McDonald's in 1979

(Library of Congress/rawpixel)

At some point in the mid ‘80s, McDonald’s realized that if they could just work out the only American favorite they didn’t yet serve, they could be gods. Fortunately for all of us, they never managed to get the price low enough or the cooking process fast enough for the McPizza to be sustainable in the long term, and by the ‘90s, the whole thing seemed like a drunken fever dream.

Wine Coolers

California Cooler commercial


In the mid ‘80s, beverage manufacturers discovered an untapped market of people who couldn’t handle a dry white wine or hoppy beer that nevertheless wanted to get fucked up, so they went all in on the wine cooler. Early wine coolers were more like bottled mimosas, but in true ‘80s fashion, they got more and more extreme until purveyors realized they didn’t even need to contain wine, making way for hard lemonade and cider to become the stepping stone of choice between baby and big kid drinks for high school shoplifters.


The award for the most thoroughly ‘80s product, however, goes to the McDLT, a McDonald’s hamburger that came in a special polystyrene container that separated all the cold ingredients from the hot ones, to be assembled just prior to eating by the customer so as not to wilt those crisp, fresh veggies McDonald’s is known for. It was obscenely wasteful, totally unnecessary, and mostly ineffective. It was perfectly ‘80s.

Fast Food Buffets

Wendy's Superbar commercial


In the days of the universal salad bar, every fast food restaurant wanted in on the bar action, and we don’t mean hotel mini fridges stashed in PlayPlaces for weary parents. Pizza Hut, of course, had a buffet to accompany their obsolete dine-in service, KFC offered trays of pudding and chicken gizzards, Taco Bell challenged diners to all-you-can-eat cheap burritos, Burger King’s traditional salad bar went largely ignored, but the Wendy’s Superbar was the true MVP, offering salad, pasta, and a “Mexican Fiesta.” Honestly, we should bring this one back. Two words, friends: Wendy’s nachos.

Top image: YouTube

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