Nothing says “Living It Up Seventy-Style” like earthy tones, sideburns, wine made from things other than grapes, and wood paneling under harsh florescent kitchen lights.
For those of us who grew up in the 1970s, the sight of people gathered around dark wood and formica is burned into our brains. These were our parents, frolicking on any weekend evening in their native habitat: the kitchen and the living room. Of course, we kids were sequestered to our rooms or to the basement to watch Brady Bunch while they talked about politics upstairs with friends. The low rumble of laughing in another part of the house – tied to the smell of percolated coffee – is still fresh in my head.
Pillsbury published the Entertainment Idea Handbook in 1970, which outlined tips on everything from conducting a wine tasting to decor. It’s actually quite handy, with great recipes and party suggestions. Its color pictures are also very unforgettable. They highlight a social life well placed between the freestyle Sixties and the Malaise Seventies, where people in their twenties savor the spoils of their world in naive happiness and bold prints.
For this post I have created a fictitious 1970 party, by using the pictures from the Pillsbury guide. Enjoy!
The young couple brought their own rack. The rest of the wine is out in the trunk of the Road Runner. Glen has a taste for Tiger Beer, which he consumed in sizable quantities while stationed in Saigon. But stateside he’s had to change the pace and switch to the grape – wife’s orders. He still resists, steering towards hard liq instead.
Linda is 64 now, and still looks like Raquel Welch. But then, so does Raquel Welch.
Appetizers await; this one’s a masterpiece of meat, fruit, and olives – skewered through a head of cabbage. Think of it as an artist’s rendition of a Soviet Satellite done in food. If anything, it tasted better than this:
An enthusiastic partier dips an artichoke leaf in french dressing. Second custard cup from the right looks like it’s filled with mayonnaise. Yeah, there’s a combo…artichoke and mayo. Very possible it’s mayo’s tangy cousin Miracle Whip. I’d be more inclined to christen that artichoke leaf with spray cheese before ladling it through that goo.
Let’s be honest: The artichoke looks like an miniature alien will be popping out of the top at any moment.
They’re the Young Generation, and they’ve got something to say…to each other!
These are the men and women who tamed the Seventies, Fresh and excited about the future, they celebrate their upcoming triumphs in laughter on a Friday night – lubricated by communal charm, posturing, and tumblers filled with alcohol. In five years time, the good laughs would be replaced by PTA meetings on Thursdays and episodes of Six-Million Dollar Man on Fridays. No doubt that at least one person in this crowd owned a yellow Porsche 914.
I’m talking to you, Blue Velvet Suit Coat Guy…
Speaking Their Minds
Lita’s black and white print dress catches the eye of Stan, who has been working with her husband at the plant now for three years.
Brad compliments Lynn on her burgundy sash and explains in animated detail how beautiful it is against her white dress. He’s hoping for that date she promised in college. She’s hoping he notices her wedding ring.
Shelley and Maya are content to sit and discuss General Hospital over Cabernet.
Glen shares a Highball and a little floor time with his boss, Mr. Pennington.
“Yes, Mr. Pennington – that pipe tobacco smells great. “
“No Mr. Pennington – I actually think that bald is beautiful.”
“Well Mr. Pennington – I agree that me working next Saturday is good for the company’s bottom line; I sure hope you have fun golfing then.”
Under the watchful wrought-iron sentry of chained gothic candle art, guests devour appetizers. Cliff has no resistance whatsoever, to the piles of crackers and bowls laden with liquidy cheese product that adorn the living room table. And why should he have any? Since the bypass last year, these tasty snacks no longer giving him heartburn!
Marge knows to stay out of his way when it comes to cheese, preferring to nibble a single cracker by his side while nursing the Cosmopolitan in her left hand. Denise and Laura agree that the crackers are wonderful, and each grab a symbolic single cracker in order to pretend eating. They’re saving space for the Fondue.
Wine and Woodgrain
In the kitchen, all the elements of party success are assembled on the counters, under the dark wood cabinets and curtains patterned after dish towels. Linda’s wine rack is filled and at the ready. Candles are lit, blending the aromas of vanilla, berries, and a random Kool menthol to create an ambiance of smoky comfort. Laura has set up a wine tasting center – complete with:
The Big Cheese!
If liquidy appetizer cheese isn’t your thing – and don’t feel bad if you just spit up a little by reading that – you can always switch to big gord-sized waxy globes of hard cheese. Preferred by those who drink from jug-shaped wine bottles which are wrapped in rope.
Eat one and you can hear the news through your teeth.
Is the vine plastic? Only the host knows, because it’s placed high above an avocado-green rotary wall phone in the kitchen.
The fireplace tools are now sitting in the Home Decor aisle at Goodwill.
Ron – in all his argyle finery – tries a newfangled “California Wine” that recently arrived on the market. He smells something that raises alarm, which brings a concerned scowl to his face. Linda was almost successful in convincing Glen to have a taste; but after spending a half hour placating Mr. Pennington, her husband instead chose to conquer another Highball and the giant cheese globe with Cliff.
Time For Fondue!
Gently placing the food around the table, Laura prepares for her guests’ enjoyment by providing tomatoes, mushrooms, and all other sorts of rounded food – ready for dipping in scalding goo. The print in her dress is from the Summer Of Love Collection at J.C. Penney.
Ron is concerned that he will lose the skewer in the dinner lava, as evidenced by his serious look; clearly from his eternal scowl, he is fearful of this meal becoming a “Fon-Don’t.” Linda is taking that bowl of mushrooms for herself; ever since Glen had a bad one in `Nam, he won’t go near them – meaning Linda no longer gets mushrooms at home. Brian brings in some more greens from the kitchen, while his wife Mandy gleefully cuts a piece of sausage for dipping.
Real parties have bowls of raw meat, dinner lava, and endless glasses of brandy. So says Pillsbury.
Since Green Beans Supreme were cooked in 1970, it’s very likely that butter and salt were involved. Lots. of butter and salt. At least they didn’t add this to Jell-O.
Minus the mushrooms, we are making this for a family gathering soon.
Melted Chocolate Makes Everything Fonduier
Hope they waited until the fruit and marshmallows were gone before dipping the raw meat in there.
Scowling Ron considers the shape of Laura’s dessert offering, staring sternly for several awkward minutes. Linda, Glen and Lynn shroud their mental health concerns in silence – with good-natured smiles. They all know about Ron’s problem…
The Man says, “You’re done in this town.”
After he eats this artfully-crafted orange, Lindall “Wes” Galvin will decide your future from behind an important-looking dark wood desk – heavier than a VW Beetle and covered with rotary telephones and a gold pens. The presence of Rosé near his plate may be your only chance at keeping a job.
Awesome swirly rough-crafted coffee mug – likely filled with Folgers – is presented along with a slice of coconut coffee cake.
After 2750 calories of fondue, 1000 calories of wine, and a 850 calories of cheese off the waxy wheel, each 1970 party goer is nearly full after this tasty dessert – and ready to sit back with a Marlboro. It has been a great gathering, a place to recharge and catch up. Forty years from this night, they will be immortalized in a computerized media form no one had ever thought of!