Crazy Cold War Recipes

Given the strong-arm tactics of Russian President Vladimir Putin, some observers expect a return of the Cold War. If that prediction proves true, maybe the new Cold War will bring back some of the kitschy old recipes below, found in vintage cookbooks. Predictably, they emphasize canned veggies and preserved meats—perfect fare for bomb-shelter dining.

Best casserole: Frankfurter Crown

What can't you do with a hotdog? This recipe card, printed by Curtis Publications in 1973, combines American's favorite encased meat with green beans, potatoes, and bacon in a hot dish. The card suggests you serve it with coleslaw and rhubarb.

3 slices bacon
1 cup chopped onion
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
3 cups sliced cooked potatoes
1 cup cooked cut green beans
1 pound frankfurters

Cook everything but the wieners and mix to form a filling. Then dump it into a casserole dish ingeniously lined with vertically stacked frankfurter halves. Serve with a straight face.

Best Chinese recipe that contains nothing Asian whatsoever: Ham Ling Lo

The Cold War spread to Asia at about the same time as American cookbook editors began to feature "ethnic" dishes, including many with Chinese themes. But not all of them were very authentic, as this offering from Good Housekeeping's Casserole Book (1958) shows. Maybe the celery counts as Chinese? But where's the soy sauce, for crying out loud?

2 lb. pared white potatoes
2 12 oz. cans luncheon ham, grated
1 can pineapple slices
5 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup minced green peppers
1 cup sliced celery

Layer ham with veggies, topping with pineapple, in a casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes or until the smell drives your company screaming from the house.

Best dish for a Tupperware™ party: Sandwich Loaf

sandwich-loaf.jpg Not since the "˜70s has it been fashionable to combine mayonnaise, cream cheese, and sour cream in a single dish. Add white bread and you've got the makings for an impressive sandwich-cake on which you can draw faces or special messages with mustard. Serves at least 15 people, not including the dozens who suddenly remember they're not hungry.

4 hard-boiled eggs
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped pimentos
1-pound can salmon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 pounds cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
Small can chopped olives
2 tablespoons minced scallions
2 tablespoons minced celery
1 tablespoon minced onion
2 tablespoon walnuts
1 loaf white bread, crust removed and cut into five horizontal layers

Combine salmon with mayonnaise, eggs, lemon juice, olives, pimentos, etc. Spread this concoction between the layers of bread as you would a sandwich filling. Finish by "frosting" the outside of the loaf with cream cheese. Slice vertically with a bread knife while suppressing your gag reflex.

Chris Weber is an occasional contributor to mentalfloss.com.

10 LEGO Sets For Every Type of LEGO Builder 

Amazon
Amazon

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If you’re looking for a timeless gift to give this holiday season, look no further than a LEGO set. With kits that cater to a wide age range—from toddlers fine-tuning their motor skills to adults looking for a more engaged way to relax—there’s a LEGO set out there for everyone. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite sets on Amazon to help you find the LEGO box that will make your loved one smile this year. If you end up getting one for yourself too, don’t worry: we won’t tell.

1. Classic Large Creative Gift Box; $44

Amazon

You can never go wrong with a classic. This 790-piece box contains dozens of types of colored bricks so builders of any age can let their inner architect shine. With toy windows, doors, tires, and tire rims included in addition to traditional bricks, the building possibilities are truly endless. The bricks are compatible with all LEGO construction sets, so builders have the option of creating their own world or building a new addition onto an existing set.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Harry Potter Hogwarts Express; $64

Amazon

Experience the magic of Hogwarts with this buildable Hogwarts Express box. The Prisoner Of Azkaban-inspired kit not only features Hogwarts's signature mode of transportation, but also Platform 9 ¾, a railway bridge, and some of your favorite Harry Potter characters. Once the train is built, the sides and roof can be removed for play within the cars. There is a Dementor on board … but after a few spells cast by Harry and Lupin, the only ride he’ll take is a trip to the naughty list.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Star Wars Battle of Hoth; $160

Amazon

Star Wars fans can go into battle—and rewrite the course of history—by recreating a terrifying AT-AT Walker from the Battle of Hoth. Complete with 1267 pieces to make this a fun challenge for ages 10 and up, the Walker has elements like spring-loaded shooters, a cockpit, and foldout panels to reveal its deadly inner workings. But never fear: Even though the situation might look dire, Luke Skywalker and his thermal detonator are ready to save the day.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Super Mario Adventures Starter Course; $60

Amazon

Kids can play Super Mario in 3D with LEGO’s interactive set. After constructing one of the courses, young designers can turn on the electronic Mario figurine to get started. Mario’s built-in color sensors and LCD screens allow him to express more than 100 different reactions as he travels through the course. He’ll encounter obstacles, collect coins, and avoid Goomba and Bowser to the sound of the Mario soundtrack (played via an included speaker). This is a great gift for encouraging problem-solving and creativity in addition to gaming smarts.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Gingerbread House; $212

Amazon

Gingerbread houses are a great way to enjoy the holidays … but this expert-level kit takes cookie construction to a whole new level. The outside of the LEGO house rotates around to show the interior of a sweet gingerbread family’s home. Although the living room is the standout with its brick light fireplace, the house also has a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and outdoor furniture. A LEGO Christmas tree and presents can be laid out as the holidays draw closer, making this a seasonal treat you can enjoy with your family every year.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Elsa and Olaf’s Tea Party; $18

Amazon

LEGO isn’t just for big kids. Toddlers and preschoolers can start their LEGO journey early by constructing an adorable tea party with their favorite Frozen characters. As they set up Elsa and Olaf’s ice seats, house, and tea fixings, they’ll work on fine-motor, visual-spatial, and emotional skills. Building the set from scratch will enable them to put their own creative spin on a favorite movie, and will prepare them for building more complicated sets as they get older.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Collectible Art Set Building Kits; $120

Amazon

Why buy art when you can build it yourself? LEGO’s Beatles and Warhol Marilyn Monroe sets contain four options for LEGO art that can be built and displayed inside your home. Each kit comes with a downloadable soundtrack you can listen to while you build, turning your art experience into a relaxing one. Once you’re finished building your creation it can be exhibited within a LEGO brick frame, with the option to hang it or dismantle it to start on a new piece. If the 1960s aren’t your thing, check out these Sith and Iron Man options.

Buy it: Amazon

8. NASA Apollo Saturn V; $120

Amazon

The sky (or just the contents of your LEGO box) is the limit with LEGO’s Saturn V expert-level kit. Designed for ages 14 and up, this to-scale rocket includes three removable rocket stages, along with a command and service module, Lunar Lander, and more. Once the rocket is complete, two small astronaut figurines can plant a tiny American flag to mark a successful launch. The rocket comes with three stands so it can be displayed after completion, as well as a booklet for learning more about the Apollo moon missions.

Buy it: Amazon

9. The White House; $100

Amazon

Reconstruct the First Family’s home (and one of America’s most famous landmarks) by erecting this display model of the White House. The model, which can be split into three distinct sections, features the Executive Residence, the West Wing, and the East Wing of the complex. Plant lovers can keep an eye out for the colorful rose garden and Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, which flank the Executive Residence. If you’re unable to visit the White House anytime soon, this model is the next best thing.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Volkswagen Camper Van; $120

Amazon

Road trip lovers and camping fanatics alike will love this vintage-inspired camper. Based on the iconic 1962 VW vehicle, LEGO’s camper gets every detail right, from the trademark safari windshield on the outside to the foldable furniture inside. Small details, like a “Make LEGO Models, Not War” LEGO T-shirt and a detailed engine add an authentic touch to the piece. Whether you’re into old car mechanics or simply want to take a trip back in time, this LEGO car will take you on a journey you won’t soon forget.

Buy it: Amazon

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Never Got a Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine as a Kid? You Can Still Buy One This Holiday Season

LUCKYPENNY VIA YOUTUBE
LUCKYPENNY VIA YOUTUBE

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Even as toys have gotten more complex in recent decades, one low-tech item has held a perennial spot on holiday wishlists. The Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine was a hit when it debuted in 1979, and kids and nostalgic adults can still get their hands on one this December.

People who grew up in the 1980s may remember commercials promoting the “yum-yum fun” plastic appliance. Like the Easy Bake Oven and the Frosty Sno-Man Sno-Cone Machine before it, the Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine allowed kids to make edible treats at home. The Peanuts branding made the toy popular with kids, and despite the elbow grease required to crank a couple of ice cubes into shaved ice, it's stuck around.

If you asked for a Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine for the holidays as a kid and never received one, you can still make your childhood dreams come true. The retro product is available practically unchanged from how it appeared in the 1980s. The biggest changes are that the hand crank is now easier to turn and there's a clamp for stabilizing the machine while you use it. Get one for yourself or a loved one from Amazon today for $30.

Looking for more nostalgic gift ideas? Here are some items the Millennials in your life will love.