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The Most Iconic Dessert from Every Decade

Step back in time with these vintage dessert recipes.

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1900s: Banana SplitBrent Hofacker/Shutterstock

1900s: Banana Split

Today we take the delicious combo of ice cream, fruit and hot fudge for granted. But back in 1904, the sundae made its historical debut at a pharmacy in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

Get banana split-inspired recipes here.

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1910s: Sponge Cake

Light and airy, sponge cake was a popular treat in early America. It was often paired with a fruit flavor, such as strawberry, orange or lemon.
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1920s: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

In 1925, the Hawaiian Pineapple Company (today, we know it as Dole) sponsored a pineapple recipe contest. The most popular entries were for a dessert we still know and love: pineapple-upside down cake.
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1930s: Baked Apples

During the Depression years, budgets were tight and food was scarce—so home cooks had to be as frugal as possible. Enter the baked apple. A sweet treat made with cheap pantry staples.
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1940s: Bread Pudding

Cooks in the ’40s were still feeling the effects of the Depression—plus dealing with new war rations. So for a sweet treat, many turned to a thrifty bread pudding that made good use of stale bread and other leftovers.
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1950s: Baked Alaska

Even though this dessert had been around for decades, baked Alaska peaked in popularity in the 1950s. After all, it’s pretty hard to beat a combo of ice cream, meringue and cake.
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1960s: Fondue

Fondue gained popularity in the 1960s as a fun way to enjoy a meal. The emergence of chocolate fondue took the trend over the top.
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1970s: Carrot Cake

Fad diets emerged in the 1970s—along with the idea that a cake containing carrots had to be healthy, right? Let’s just say ignorance is bliss.
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1980s: Tiramisu

Tiramisu began popping up on menus at the beginning of the decade—and by the end, it was a full-blown obsession.
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1990s: Lava Cake

Talk about a chocolate overload. The lava cake—characterized by its ooey-gooey molten center—could be found everywhere from swanky New York restaurants to Disney World.
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2000s: Cake Pops

For just one or two indulgent bites, turn to a cake pop. This trendy treat was an offshoot of the early 2000s cupcake trend.
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2010s: Healthy Ice Cream

10 years ago there was maybe one or two “diet” brands of ice cream on the market. Today, there are entire freezer cases dedicated to healthy frozen treats. Make your own “nice” cream with frozen banana slices and almond milk.

Katie Bandurski
Katie is an Associate Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in writing and email newsletters. When she’s out of the office, you’ll find her exploring Wisconsin, trying out new vegetarian recipes and combing through antique shops.
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