Tomorrow, on 11-11-11, I will turn 31 years old. Last year, for my 30th birthday, my uncle sent me a Facebook message that contained only the following Pink Floyd quote and a "Happy Birthday" at the end:
So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.
You should spend time with us at the holidays. It's magical.
In a bid to forget the inevitability of one day being shorter of breath and definitely one day closer to death, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at foods that are still going strong after 31 years -- foods you may not even realize were invented in 1980, so iconic they seem today.
Such as the turducken.
8. Turducken: Paul Prudhomme is credited with the creation of the Turducken, or at least that's what the trademark says. Hebert's Specialty Meats also lays claim to the invention, but Prudhomme's trademark states that the Cajun chef first started preparing the stuffed beast in November 1980, five years before Hebert's began selling them. Either way, although the Turducken was "born" in 1980, the truth is that nested birds served roasted or baked have been around for hundreds of years. We just didn't start calling them Turduckens until recently.
7. Ben & Jerry's: Prior to 1980, you couldn't purchase Ben & Jerry's ice cream from your local grocery store. The duo were still only selling ice cream out of their Vermont ice cream parlor, which opened in 1978. 1980 marked the first time the sweet stuff was packed in pints for sale.
6. Chicken McNuggets: Created in 1979 by McDonald's chef Rene Arend, but introduced to menus in 1980. (The horrifying McRib was introduced one year later.) The bite-size chicken nuggets were a runaway success by 1983.
5. Sriracha: The company that makes the wildly popular Sriracha sauce -- Huy Fong Foods -- was founded in Rosemead, California in 1980. Sriracha is not Thai, it's not Vietnamese, it's not Chinese, it's not any one thing: It's an Asian-influenced American creation by David Trần, an ethnic Chinese Vietnamese, who was a chili pepper farmer back in the old country. It's a shining example of immigrant ingenuity as well as the one condiment my pantry is never without.
4. Jell-O Pudding Pops: Believe it or not, Bill Cosby was the spokesperson for Jell-O six years before the iconic pudding pops came along. Cosby started shilling the pudding in 1974, but pudding pops themselves weren't created until 1980.
3. Applebee's: Believe it or not, the original Applebee's -- which was opened in Decatur, Georgia in January 1980 -- was called T.J. Applebee's Rx for Edibles & Elixirs. Yes, somehow Applebee's was even cheesier when it was first born. These days, however, the little restaurant from Georgia is now the largest "casual dining" restaurant chain. And since being purchased by IHOP in 2007, it's also grown into the largest full-service restaurant company in the world. It's terrifying, but take comfort in this: There isn't a single Applebee's within Beltway 8.
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2. ShowBiz Pizza: ...where a kid can be a kid. (You know it's impossible to say one and not the other.) This is what Chuck E. Cheese used to be when it was still awesome and every kid you knew wanted to have their birthday here or at the roller rink. There were no other options. ShowBiz was founded in Kansas in 1980, marking the only other pop culture icon to come out of the state since The Wizard of Oz.
1. Landry's: Last but not least, Houston needs to apologize to the rest of the nation for birthing the hydra-esque Landry's chain in 1980. Landry's Seafood House Restaurant (technically in Katy) was opened by the Landry brothers and a year later, the original team also opened Willie G's Seafood and Steak House, which is still a fine, fine restaurant. But then Tilman Fertitta came along in 1986 and bought the brothers out, and we all know the rest of the story from there.