We finally gave in to the massive hype surrounding Mad Men and watched all of season one over the course of last weekend. Although we were stubborn to the end, it turns out that everything we’d read about it is true. The acting is superlative, the sets, costumes, and historical references completely impeccable, and the whole tone of the show really captures the tense, feverish excitement of the advertising industry in 1960.
What we weren’t expecting, but were totally taken with, was the incredible attention to food and dining in 1960. Once it hit us that food comes up constantly on the show, we started scribbling down notes about everything they put in their mouths. (Dirty! But true.) After the jump, the Mad Men diet.
Scene after scene on Mad Men takes place in restaurants that can only be described as swanky. The softly glowing lights, unobtrusive classical music, and understated decor of the dining rooms would fit right in with most nice restaurants these days. But, oh, the food!
From our notes, and with some help from the Television Without Pity forum on Mad Men, it seems that when people weren’t drinking heavily, they were eating lots of oysters Rockefeller and caesar salads. Other items on the Mad Men menu?
For drinks (easily one of the main food groups): whiskey, scotch, Manhattans, Rob Roys, vodka gimlets, and martinis. The employees of Sterling Cooper truly own the idea of a liquid lunch, and that’s not even considering all of the bracing swigs knocked back behind closed office doors.
Home-cooking on the show is standard 1950s fare: celery with cream cheese, many a pot roast, a ham generously cloaked in a layer of pineapple, Waldorf salad, and a parade of casseroles all make appearances. Some of the dishes are probably best left to history, but many left us with a powerful desire to revive retro canapes. All in all, very Joy of Cooking!
Finally, if you were dining in New York’s finest restaurants of 1960, you might have expected to see the following on the menu: goulash, beef wellington and other foods wrapped in dough or puff pastry, caviar, shrimp cocktail, rumaki, and classic desserts like baked Alaskas. We bet it all tasted pretty good, but didn’t they ever get bored?
Aside from making us want the cocktails/not want most of the food, watching has made us wonder: how outdated will our food seem fifty years from now?