Sometime back in October, I had on my Eavesdropping Cap and overheard Glenn’s work bro inviting Glenn to his Halloween party. “OMG I guess the Feud is officially over then!” I excitedly thought, because it had been AWHILE since he’s popped on over to monotone it up with Glenn. I guess my lunch date plan really did work after all!
Once Glenn left for the day, I giddily chatted with Todd and The Processor Formerly Known As Amber2 about it. I had it in my head that Work Bro’s soirees are like vintage key parties of yore so I started sending Todd and Amber pictures of people with stiff posture and fake smiles standing around gelatin castles and Velveeta-filled fondue pots. Then I started looking at gross Betty Crocker party food pictures, because I have hobbies.
Around this same time, my friend Kate posted a vintage recipe on Facebook for these curious things called Carnival Creams:
I was at once repulsed and intrigued. Ketchup in a dessert!? I love Ketchup and I love desserts, but…
Still, I couldn’t get this out of my head and decided that I needed to try it. This recipe paired with my imagination churning out visions of square Halloween parties made me realize that not only did I need Henry to make these, but he needed to make these for an audience. I needed to have a vintage food party and make other people bring disgusting nostalgia eats as well.
“It’ll just be a small thing!” I promised Henry. “Not a full-blown party. It won’t be stressful!” And he just closed his eyes, sighed, and mumbled, “What do I have to make?
I wanted him to make like eleventy other disgustingly atomic abominations developed for bomb shelter supper clubs, but he was like, “I AM NOT MAKING FOOD THAT PEOPLE ARE NOT GOING TO EAT THAT IS WASTEFUL ERIN” so I had to try and find things that were gross but possibly edible, so tomato aspic (decorated with crawfish heads) and jellied chicken salad were out of the running. We settled on the Party Potato Salad below, because at least the inside would be edible.
The party was Saturday, December 5th and Henry did that thing that he always does where he left me alone at the last minute so I had to CLEAN BY MYSELF. Actually, I only had to straighten up the living room but I hate “straightening up” because it doesn’t fit my crooked lifestyle. Luckily, there was an early Penguins game on so that helped me make it through.
This picture has nothing to do with the party, but I took it while I was waiting for Henry and Chooch to return from picking up Blake and his friend Aaron. But this post is just about the food, so we’ll get to the people later.
Turns out, Carnival Creams aren’t that bad! I mean, you can taste the Ketchup. I won’t pretend like you can’t. But somehow, it works. The texture was similar to ice cream, and the almond and maraschino cherry bits on top really added a new dimension to it. Henry even had the forethought to buy pasteurized eggs so no one would get sick and die!
And then he used that topic as an opportunity to brag during the party about how he does, in fact, know how to pasteurize an egg on his own. OK Farmhand Henry. Go back to the barn.
Hilariously, the next day, my sister Amy commented on Facebook and said, “Those were bomb!” and then Lisa called me to tell me, “I can’t get over how good those Ketchup things ended up being” and then at work on Monday, Wendy was like, “I can’t stop thinking about those Ketchup things!” and I was like “INORITE?!” I’m so happy that they ended up stealing the show since the whole party was planned around them!
Guys, I “designed” those radishes! Henry was supposed to buy snap peas for me to make leaves and stems but he didn’t so, floating flowers it is.
The potato salad was literally preserved beneath of gleaming skin of mayo and gelatin. Get yo’ gag reflexes ready, party people!
And I did the pineapple too! I had to touch pearl onions a million times and it was disgusting. I was excited to bring in some of my succulents off the window sills because several of them are potted in perfect Goodwill nostalgia finds, especially Ted NUDEgent up there.
None of my parties are complete without at least one punch variety and this one especially would be a failure without one. I knew whatever punch I decided on would have to have sherbet in it. I settled for a lime sherbet with champagne and other crap, and it was a real crowd-pleaser! I barely had a chance to take a picture of it before Aaron was diving in. He and Blake came over about an hour before the party started, so he was getting pretty antsy for Punch Time. ME TOO, BRO. Parties stress me out.
Until I get sloppy.
Aunt Ethel just seemed like a good vintage name.
That cat food-looking shit in the upper left was Henry’s very own idea: deviled ham. “What? People ate this shit all the time back then,” he said as he plopped it onto the plate.
And that Jello salad up there was brought by Angie. It didn’t stand a chance once people discovered what it was: strawberry Jello pretzel salad. This is like a staple at Pittsburgh cookouts, plus it’s vintage-y too, so everyone was happy that there was at least one thing that wouldn’t haunt their dreams that night.
I MADE THESE! They’re vienna sausages with a generous dollop of Easy Cheese on top. I think Blake and Aaron were the only people eating those.
Wendy wouldn’t make the jellied chicken salad I sent her, courtesy of Octavia who I desperately wished lived close enough to attend, and instead brought something more on her skill level: salami wrapped around a cream cheese and horseradish filling. I hear they were a hit, though!
“You can’t go wrong with cream cheese,” Wendy said, and I would have to agree with that.
Kara, bless her heart, substituted soysage for the hotdogs that her Polka-Dotted Mac n Cheese called for. IT WAS DIVINE!
Chris and Monica made a Prosecco berry gelatin in a Han Solo mold and it was delicious. Aaron, the self-appointed food critic of the night, was really impressed with it. “Did you learn how to make this in France?” he asked incredulously.
“No, Pinterest,” Chris laughed. This was the point of the night where I deemed Aaron to be my favorite person in the whole world, and then Monica sadly said, “Well, Chris, let’s go home.” JUST KIDDING, THEY’RE STILL MY FAVORITES TOO!
I wasn’t able to get a picture of Lisa’s lime Jello salad before it was attacked, but it was the perfect color for this particular party, and I was really pleased with its addition to the table.
Stupidly not-pictured: The cheeseballs my sister Amy made (so good!) and Janna’s fondue pot that we thought she had left unattended with oil simmering in it, but it turned out it was beer because she was making BEER CHEESE, fuck yes. You can’t have a vintage snack attack party without a fondue pot, so Janna was like the unsung hero of the night.
(That originally said “herp” instead of “hero” and it took everything I had inside me to not leave it that way.)
OK, I’m splitting this into two parts because otherwise: picture overload. But what else is new. Next post: PEOPLE EATING FOOD.
(And no, my blog isn’t fixed. I have to put pictures on here the old-fashioned way which I forgot how to do so Henry had to do it for me. He has to call WordPress today because they haven’t been able to figure out what the problem is, so I told him to tell them I’m going to SUE THEM and he was like, “Yes, because that will make them really want to help us fix this.” And it’s funny because I’m sure whatever broke my blog is something that I did all on my own, because this isn’t some widespread WordPress epidemic.)