Old-School Foods That Are Making A Comeback During The Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic upended families' lives and blew up routines. Children couldn't go to school and many parents couldn't go to work. At the same time, the stay-at-home orders prompted by the novel coronavirus seemed to settle people down and help families establish new routines. Before the pandemic, mental health experts such as psychologist Stephanie Brown bemoaned the fast pace of modern life. She reminded us to slow down long enough to cook a meal or have a conversation with family and friends (via New York Post).

Nobody would have wished for a pandemic to be the thing that would allow us to reconnect with our loved ones, but here we are. Families stuck at home are spending more time together, something our fast-paced, overbooked schedules hadn't allowed before. Much of that family bonding, naturally, is happening around food. Families with older children are reviving lost traditions, whether it was pizza-and-movie night or "Sundae Sundays" (via Parents). Not surprisingly, many of the foods popular during the pandemic reflect our nostalgia for what we imagine was a simpler, slower-paced time. While that can mean doing more real cooking (including baking more bread) for a lot of families, it means bringing home the comfort and convenience foods that were popular decades ago (via The New York Times).

People want comfort and convenience during the pandemic

Conagra, the company that makes Chef Boyardee and Slim Jims, increased sales 50 percent in March. "We stocked up on the entire Chef Boyardee line," grocery shopper Sue Smith told The New York Times. "Chef Boyardee Ravioli. Chef Boyardee Beefaroni. I hadn't had that stuff in 20 years." Before the pandemic, Smith favored kale or quinoa salads. 

Hana Thompson also wasn't particularly proud of the food choices she was making during the pandemic, but a yearning for old-school foods seemed to be the deciding factor. "One of the first things I grabbed was Kraft Easy Cheese," Thompson said. "The disgusting orange stuff in a can. But it was one of the foods I ate growing up, so it's a nostalgia thing." Stuck at home, people are grazing at the pantry more, and they're opting for the snacks of previous generations (via CSP), such as Nutter Butter cookies and Fig Newtons.

Talk about old school: Spangler Candy Company just brought back Necco Wafers this summer. The candy has been around so long that Civil War soldiers had it on hand. The candy company's CEO thought the timing was good for Necco's return after it had been off the market for two years. "Just when comfort food is experiencing a resurgence, Necco Wafers is back with that very kind of familiar, comfortable feeling we all seem to be craving," CEO Kirk Vashaw said (via KMBC).