Was Food Actually Healthier In The 1980s? Twitter Weighs In

One of the ways you know you're growing older, for sure, is when you start weighing in with all manner of opinion on how things were better in the "old days." Food, in particular, is always a favorite topic, and assuming you're 98 years old, you might be able to out forth a reasonable claim that your Depression-era diet was at least less processed and possibly even included more fresh veggies (of the cheap and easy to grow variety, anyway).

When it comes to people claiming that food was healthier back in the 1980s, though, well... we find that a bit harder to believe. One Twitter user, rather than greeting such unlikely assertions with an eyeroll and a dismissive "OK, Gen Xer," launched a long thread about why he disagreed. A number of others who also failed to remember the '80s as any kind of lost foodie paradise shared similar thoughts on the matter.

The OP made a strong case for the superiority of 2020s food

A Houston-area lawyer named Raffi Melkonian had some strong feelings about people's claims that 1980s food was healthier than today's. He kicked off his tweet rebuttal by saying: "As someone who grew up then, it was *much* worse. Comically worse. In almost every way." He went on to explain that "[t]here were fewer options in every single category, the meat was bad, the veggies were bad, the fruit was bad, [and] the cereals were bad," and he also noted that "the restaurants were much worse." As examples of the latter, he said that the premier steakhouse in the town where he grew up was "a restaurant in a trolley that advertised its chemical tenderizer" (Victoria Station, would be our guess) and admitted that "the best place to go with friends around me was pizza hut." While MelkonianĀ told followers that "[y]ou can make fun of assembly line burrito places," he still feels that Chipotle and its ilk are "*much* better than what we had."

Ethnic foodstuffs were also in short supply, as Melkonian pointed out that his mom had to go to a specialty Arabic market to get curly parsley for tabbouleh. Good bread was also hard to come by, since he noted that the bread baked twice daily by his current local supermarket chain "would have been at the fancy French bakery when I was a kid you'd go to 2x a year. "

Raffi Melkonian was preaching to the choir, and they all joined in the chorus

Nobody disagreed with Raffi Melkonian, nor did they jump to defend '80s food, with the possible exception of one Twitter user who reminisced: "We ate Wonder Bread. And then the plastic sleeves went into my boots to keep the melted snow from freezing my feet. It was a wonderful time." Still, she wasn't speaking to that bread's superior taste or even its nutrition (vitamin-enriched though it may be), but rather to the free boot liners included with every loaf. Another former bread-baker confessed: "I worked in a grocery store deli/bakery in the early 90's, and we had exactly one recipe of dough for bread making. The only difference between Italian, French, sub rolls, and dinner rolls was how many pieces you cut it into."

As one plant eater pointed out, "The quality and availability of vegetarian food in particular is night and day." Melkonian agreed, calling vegetarian options "Not a thing when I was a kid." An H-E-B fan gave the store a shout, calling it "a gourmet fantasia compared to the grocery stores I grew up with" and lauding its "Prime beef, imported cheese, tortillas made in house, and an ethnic food aisle with hundreds of products you couldn't get when I was a kid." As to anyone thinking 80s food was superior to today's offerings, they posed the rhetorical question: "Holy moley what are those people smoking?" Probably nothing that was legal in the '80s, that's for sure.