Why Don’t We Eat This Anymore? 7 Old-Fashioned Foods that Used to Be in Everyone’s Pantry

If you open the typical American’s pantry, you’ll find all sorts of processed convenience foods like canned dinners and artificially flavored snacks. But there used to be a time when everyone’s pantries were stocked with hearty, wholesome food – much of it grown and preserved by themselves.

Here are just a few staples from a century ago that have quietly disappeared from our plates. Let’s take a nostalgic trip down memory lane and explore why we’ve bid farewell to some of these old-fashioned favorites. 

1. Butter: A Spreadable Revolution

woman churning butter in early 1900s

1910: 18.4lbs per year
Now: 6.5lbs per year

Once upon a time, butter was the undisputed king of spreads. In 1910, the average American happily consumed a whopping 18.4 pounds of butter each year.

Fast forward to today, and our love affair with this golden delight has waned, with the annual intake plummeting to a mere 6.5 pounds. Are we missing out on the creamy goodness our ancestors adored?


2. Cream: From Pint to Trickle

1910: 11.5lbs
Now: 8.2lbs

Back in the day, cream was a kitchen essential. Whether they were whipping it up to go on a homemade pie or making their own ice cream, our grandparents ate it without fear of fats. Almost no one keeps cream in their homes anymore and instead opts for low-fat or skim milk.


3. Lamb: The Decline of the Flock

1910: 6.4lbs
Now: 1.5lbs

One hundred years ago, there were more than 48 million sheep in the United States. Today, only about 5 million sheep are left in the country. 

Gone are the days when there were mom-and-pop farmers across the country, each with their own small flock of sheep providing a source of meat, milk, and wool. 

Instead, Americans now mostly eat beef, which comes from large-scale operations or even from China!


4. Shell Eggs: Cracking the Mystery

1910: 297 eggs
Now: 201 eggs

In 1910, the average American consumed a hearty 297 eggs annually. Today, we still eat the same amount of eggs as in the past, but only about 200 eggs get cracked open. The rest are in processed form, such as convenience foods like readymade cakes.


5. Molasses: From Sweet to Stingy

1910: 83lbs*
Now: 1.8lbs

In the early 20th century, Americans ate 83 lbs of sweeteners per year. Because white sugar was expensive, molasses was the most common sweetener, followed by other natural syrups like honey. 

Flash forward a few decades, and food manufacturers started using cheap corn sweeteners. Today, Americans consume more sugar than ever – a whopping 136 lbs per person – but only 1.8lbs as molasses or honey. A huge portion of it comes as ultra-processed high fructose corn syrup.


6. Fresh Potatoes: A Peel of Nostalgia

1910: 180lbs
Now: 10lbs

Whether mashed, fried, baked, roasted, or in casseroles, potatoes used to be served with virtually every dinner. As convenience foods like supermarket bread became commonplace, Americans stopped keeping this cheap, starchy staple in their homes. 

Today, Americans still eat a lot of potatoes, but 24 lbs of them come in frozen form, and 4 lbs of them are processed potato chips. Only a meager 10lbs of fresh potatoes are prepared per person each year today.


7. Apples: The Forgotten Orchard

1910: ~56lbs
Now: 25lbs

Before most Americans lived in cities, it was normal to have apple trees in your yard and use the bounty to make pies, sauce or preserves. Today, Americans only consume 25 lbs of apples per year, half of which comes as juice. When it comes to fresh apples or foods we make ourselves from apples, the number falls to just 11lbs per year.

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, it seems we’ve bid farewell to some of the foods that once graced our pantries. Perhaps it’s time to bring back some old-fashioned charm to our plates and rediscover the simple, delicious pleasures that used to be in everyone’s pantry. After all, some things are just too good to be left in the past.


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  1. We eat all of those foods, except mutton. I’m so happy that I prepared home cooked meals for my family most every night, even with a full time job. And now my daughter does the same and cooks from scratch too!

    Reply
  2. For those who don’t eat those listed foods – I’m sorry.
    However, mutton does not agree with us so it is never on the menu.

    Reply

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