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January 16, 2012

Tell Us The Worst Thing You’ve Ever Eaten And Win A Copy Of Kooky Cookery By Bryan Ballinger – CONTEST CLOSED!

By RetroRuth

I am excited about this one, guys!  Today we have a great giveaway from our friend Bryan at Kooky Cookery/Kooky Chow.

Bryan and I want to hear about the worst or strangest thing you’ve ever eaten, cooked or been served. We know you’ve eaten some disgusting stuff and we want to hear about it! And the winner of this Kooky contest will get a copy of Bryan’s awesome book, Kooky Cookery!


What do bricks of tomato gelatin, pizzas made with baked beans, and hors-d’oeuvre impaled Santas have in common? They’re all part of American’s rich and fragrant history of bizarre food concoctions. Kooky Cookery is a campy cookbook parody and humorous archive of the nation’s Golden Age of peculiar creations.

Have you guys seen how cool this book is?  If you haven’t, I give you Exhibit A:

Kooky Cookery from Bread Wig on Vimeo.

And also, Exhibit B, a recipe from the book:

Kooky Capture

Look’s awesome, huh?  Well, you guys had better get started and leave a comment about your eating experiences. They don’t have to be vintage, retro, or even that gross, they just have to be a time when you ate something and then immediately wished that you hadn’t!

Take, for example, my run-in with the infamous Jellied Tongues.



Man, I totally could have used a new cookbook after that nonsense.

*So leave a comment and be entered in our contest to win a brand new copy of Kooky Cookery! Comments will be closed on 1/29/12 at midnight and winner will be announced on 1/30/12. Good Luck!

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50 Responses to Tell Us The Worst Thing You’ve Ever Eaten And Win A Copy Of Kooky Cookery By Bryan Ballinger – CONTEST CLOSED!

  1. Abigail Grotke Reply

    January 16, 2012 at 10:35 am

    My mother would agree with this one, and she’s the one that made it. Banana Surprise was the name of the dish – made with a bunch of leftover homegrown bananas (read: bitter, not sweet) that my grandfather in Florida had grown (can’t possibly waste them!). It included bananas put through a ricer, then mushed together with various “whipped” things like egg whites and custard sauce or some such mushy mess (I’m blocking out the details). Baked, then fed to the children who promptly spit it out and ran from the room. Tried to feed it to the dog but even he, a terrier who would eat anything, refused.

    • RetroRuth Reply

      January 16, 2012 at 2:32 pm

      Oh, nasty!!! I can just imagine someone trying to feed that mess to the dog. So funny!

  2. Lorna Reply

    January 16, 2012 at 10:58 am

    In college, my husband (then boyfriend) for some reason tried to make Tuna Helper in a slow cooker. It turned into paste. Oh, it was nasty. Then he went off to deliver pizzas, probably scoring some dinner at some point during the evening and I went home to where I had no food. Some twenty-odd years later, we still occasionally joke about his “tuna gruel”…

    • RetroRuth Reply

      January 16, 2012 at 2:32 pm

      Oh my goodness…as if Tuna Helper wasn’t bad enough already…

  3. Rachael Reply

    January 16, 2012 at 11:08 am

    This item didn’t even make it to my mouth…I wouldn’t have eaten it anyway…tripe. Blech, it almost makes my stomach turn even thinking of it *gagging*. Way back when, a very kind woman who watched me before and after school was boiling *gagging* tripe (lining of a cows stomach) for dinner that night. I kept gagging every time I walked past the kitchen and caught a whiff of it. She thought I was being rude, but I couldn’t help it!
    I technically didn’t even taste it, so no entry to the contest for me, just couldn’t help commenting with my tripe story 🙂

    • RetroRuth Reply

      January 16, 2012 at 2:33 pm

      Ugh!!!! I totally don’t blame you for the gagging!

    • Toni Reply

      January 18, 2012 at 2:20 pm

      My grandpa used to make tripe. It CAN be made edible, but why?

    • Miss Meghan Reply

      January 28, 2012 at 5:32 pm

      I have actually had to eat the stuff! It’s considered quite special in Mexico, and while I was living there (in an incredibly poor region), people would make it in tacos or soup as a special, fancy meal for me as a kind gesture of welcome to their home and country or as a thank you for something I had done for them. It was a very kind and wonderful gesture, but it was so gross. You never get used to the texture or taste or smell. I had to develop this incognito way of sort of just shoving it straight down my throat. I was also served bugs in the jungle and practically chipped my tooth on the exoskeleton of a grasshopper!

  4. Angela Reply

    January 16, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    My mother used to make this revolting sandwich spread that HER mother made for her as a child. It was deviled ham, american cheese, pickles and mayonnaise all ground into a pink sandwich slurry that she’d put into a huge punchbowl in the fridge, covered with saran wrap. We were supposed to smear it on white bread and take it as our school lunch. My sister and I would put huge mounds of it on bread, then take it to school and throw it away! Little did we know that my mom interpreted that as us liking it (Look how fast they ate it all!) and would make even MORE of it. It took years for us to confess our hatred of it.

    • RetroRuth Reply

      January 16, 2012 at 2:34 pm

      Ha ha ha! Oh man. This is a good one, Angela!

    • Toni Reply

      January 18, 2012 at 2:21 pm

      I make that with leftover ham, but without the cheese. I love it!

  5. Eartha Kitsch Reply

    January 16, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Love that video! And love this contest idea. Going to have to give this some thought. Ruth, there is a part of me that wishes I’d eaten those jellied tongues so that I could use that as my entry. But only a PART.

    • RetroRuth Reply

      January 16, 2012 at 2:36 pm

      Isn’t that video awesome! When Bryan sent it to me I was floored.

      Oh yeah, you had better come up with something good!

      And I totally know what I am going to make for you if you and the Mister ever head to good ole MI for a visit… :p

      • Eartha Kitsch Reply

        January 16, 2012 at 2:41 pm

        Oh my gosh…SO sad that we’re vegetarians. 😉

  6. KDA Reply

    January 16, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    I spent my junior year of high school in Denmark through a program with the American Field Service. For Easter, we went to my host father’s parents’ house. There, my host-grandmother (originally from Germany) served a dish that consisted of chopped up raw apple, raw onion, and pickled herring served with a raw egg on top. Now, during orientation, our counselors made it clear to never refuse a dish as it would be rude. So, being the good ambassador, I ate every bite of that dish.

    • RetroRuth Reply

      January 17, 2012 at 2:09 pm

      Nice, KDA! This one made Tom laugh out loud! 🙂

  7. Vickie Reply

    January 16, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    Well I won’t win this one cause there’s some real gaggers up there, but THE worst thing I ever had to eat was mom’s creamed tuna on toast. We’d have it sometimes on Friday (cause catholics would go to hell if they ate meat on Friday). I’m gagging thinking about this – some sort of white sauce with hunks of tuna, CANNED peas (triple-gag)and pimento’s spread over not ONE but two pieces of toast. There are just some things best not remembered.


    • RetroRuth Reply

      January 17, 2012 at 2:11 pm

      Oh man, Vickie!!! I am right there with you. I have an unnatural dislike for soggy bread in any form. Gives me the shivers!

    • Toni Reply

      January 18, 2012 at 2:23 pm

      My mom used to make creamed hamburger on toast and creamed chipped beef on toast. Man how I hated those nights!

  8. Andrea Reply

    January 17, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    I am Mormon and it is pretty well known that we are a people unafraid of Jello salad. The most “creative” one I have ever been served at a church function was lovingly refered to as “Gorilla Snot Salad.” It was green jello mixed with cottage cheese and cool whip. This is not be confused with “Fish-eye Salad” where you mix powdered cook-and-serve tapioca, jello, and pudding to boiling water, set-up, chill, and mix with cool whip. It is actualy fantastic and could survive a nuclear explosion. Gorilla Snot, on the other hand, not so tasty.

  9. Annie B. Reply

    January 17, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Oooh, this is getting good and gaggy. I probably could give you a winning answer, but I’m too embarrassed to admit I actually tried this item.

    For now, let me just say that sauteed collards are about as bad as any food I’ve ever had. The flavor and texture: imagine eating
    grass-flavored rubber bands.

    I love collards but, you really have to cook the things to death and back before they’re right.

  10. Jen Reply

    January 17, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Well, mine is one that will always stick with me, not because of the food itself, but because of the way it was presented.

    In my early 20s, I was a recovering anorexic—as in I had weighed 68 pounds at age 21 and my parents were ready to have me locked up when I came to my senses. At the time this happened, I was still sort of on the edge—relapse is really easy when you’re coming out of that hell—and barely 100 pounds wet and holding two sacks of potatoes. My parents and I had been helping my fiance’s family move into their new house. When we sat down for dinner—burgers—fiance’s mom handed me a VEGGIE BURGER, saying, “Here, have a veggie burger, it won’t make you any fatter.” Now, nutritional fallacy aside there….HOLY CRAP. The only reason Dad didn’t deck her was because she was, well, a woman, but I’ve never seen Dad turn so red so fast in my entire LIFE. It was a pretty quiet meal after that (Dad gave me one of “his” burgers, though I was only able to eat half). Mom had been in the bathroom, so didn’t hear what happened, but believe me, Dad filled her in on the way home.

    I broke off the engagement about a month and a half later (though it had nothing to do with his mother, she didn’t help his case).

    So, maybe the worst thing I’ve *never* eaten. (I had a few bites, but…come on.) I’ve eaten snake, crocodile, alligator, liver, and, of course, Play-Doh, but nothing tops the veggie burger (and I boycott them to this flipping day).

  11. ae Reply

    January 17, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Great video.

    It didn’t take me long to remember the worst thing I ever ate. My grandma would often make czarnina (duck blood soup). Yes, it tasted as bad as it sounds. It also looked disgusting, the color of old blood. I would put as many noodles in my soup as I could and would try to eat just the noodles. I would continue adding noodles whenever there was any room in the bowl.

  12. Elise Reply

    January 18, 2012 at 1:35 am

    First thing that comes to mind for worst thing ever ingested was a dish my Italian/English friend made (he has quite a temper, but knows how to cook and will do anything for a stranger!). He hosted a dinner party and made some beautiful authentic Italian pastas, but then the oven timer went off and he pulled out a casserole dish full of chicken in a tuna sauce. A smooth, salmon pink tuna sauce covering perfectly good chicken breasts. I really hate seafood, but I took some anyway to be polite. It was horrendous, thick and oozy like a senile grandmother’s cooking. Of course, I remind him about this now and he claims he never made such a thing. My digestive system begs to differ.

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  14. Yinzerella Reply

    January 18, 2012 at 10:16 am

    I so want to win this cookbook. But what is the worst think I’ve ever eaten? Hm…lord knows that I’ve made a lot of gross canned/jarred seafood-based dishes.

    But I adore proper pate so I guess I’ll have to say Canned liver pate because it’s such an aberration of something that is so good. American store-bought or from abroad–they are equally gross. It doesn’t matter if it’s French, it’s still 9 Lives kitty food.

    Although Big & Little Edie Beale loved it–they were eating it constantly in ‘Grey Gardens!’

  15. KDA Reply

    January 18, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Oooh, I forgot the time I ate rattle snake! It was during a school camping trip. This poor snake slithered into our camp, and our counselor quickly dispatched him, gutted him and then roasted him. It really wasn’t that bad–tasted like chicken. The worst part was when the counselor gutted him and revealed a partially digested rat. Ugh.

  16. Toni Reply

    January 18, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    This isn’t a winner, but I love reading the stories. Remember the scene in Big where Tom Hnals wipes his tongue off after eating caviar? That’s happened to me twice. Once was at a Christmas party my parents threw. My dad had fried up a bunch of seafood and one was oysters. Now, I like fried clams so I tried an oyster. I bit into this blister of nasty. It popped and oozed into my mouth and I couldn’t close my mouth. I just let it fall out Nd literally wiped off my tongue! The other time was beef liver. My Grandpa was staying with us and he loved liver. Especially fried chicken livers, but also chicken fried beef liver. My family is from Oklahoma. We fry a lot. Anyway, I tried a piece and also spit it out immediately. Disgusting. I’ve never forgotten the taste of liver and that was over 20 yrs ago!

  17. SusieQT Reply

    January 18, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Oh, I think I mentioned this before on your tongue post (at least you know I’m not just making it up to win a contest!) but I used to work in a German butcher shop where we would make jellied beef tongue loaf. It was my job to peel the tongues after they were cooked (you have to peel the sandpapery outer layer off by hand for them to be edible). I had literally 100 lbs of tongues in a barrel in front of me for hours. They would then be placed into loaf pans and gelatin poured over it to make the lunchmeat.

    We also made a specialty lunchmeat with pork tongues packed into a “natural” (i.e. sheep’s intestine) casing and filled with blood. After filling the casing, it was cooked and became slice-able. My boss, an old German man, had been taking me under his wing and showing me a bit about sausage-making. In the old country, you have to taste the product as you are making it to gauge the propotion of seasonings, etc. before cooking. He insisted that I try the blood and tongue sausage before it was even cooked; it was a soupy mess of blood and tongue bits, with some pork fat thrown in for flavor. It was the nastiest thing I have ever tasted- like eating a sanitary napkin!

    • RetroRuth Reply

      January 18, 2012 at 5:35 pm

      Oh my god!!!!

    • ae Reply

      January 19, 2012 at 5:41 pm

      Oh that is really gross!!!

    • Angela Reply

      January 23, 2012 at 6:03 pm

      This made me gag and cover my mouth in horror! Bad enough to have to taste the sausage cooked, but to taste it beforehand…eeeeeee!

  18. Brandy Reply

    January 18, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    I can’t compete with some of these… no chance! But I have to say that I have a very… err… adventurous dad and I’ve tried some crazy things. Squirrel, moose, bear, pickled cactus, octopus, canned snails… The most terrible thing that has ever touched my tongue (thanks forever, Dad!) was his experiment with jellied tripe. Salty gelatinous internal organs. Aaaand now I’m gagging.

  19. Godzilaw Reply

    January 20, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Hmmm. Well. My in-laws are from eastern Europe, which is not necessarily a bad thing (pierogies, anyone?). However, my SIL has taken to serving and “olde family favorite” at holidays that makes me turn green (and not in an envious way). It is a mayonnaise-based salad, sort of like a potato salad, that contains (in layers): shredded potatoes, mayonnaise, shredded raw onion, mayonnaise, shredded beets, mayonnaise, minced eggs, mayonnaise, large chunks of PICKLED HERRING, aaaaannnnd mayonnaise. The whole thing is kind of purplish (thanks to the beets). And I loathe beets. To preserve family happiness, I choked down a small serving.

    I remember thinking: “How hungry was the cook who thought this up?!”

    • Miss Meghan Reply

      January 28, 2012 at 5:13 pm

      oh, god…I heard about this in my Russian language class. Yeck. Eastern Europeans sure do love mayo!

  20. JulieJ Reply

    January 20, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    I can’t even compare to some of these but the worst thing my mother used to make was a Spam Casserole. I know- most would just stop at Spam but this was Spam sliced thin and used to line the bottom and sides of a pie plate which was then filled with a combination of pork n’ beans, LaChoy sweet and sour sauce (what a unique shade of orange!) and a can of crushed pineapple. To this day I can’t stand Spam. Huh… I wonder if she still has the little cookbook she got all her Spam recipes from.
    Spam and Veg-all Quiche anyone?

    • Miss Meghan Reply

      January 28, 2012 at 5:06 pm


  21. Garnet Scarabin Reply

    January 21, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Raw jellyfish (because if you “cooked” it, it would disappear… which isn’t such a bad idea, reallY!) with sesame seeds and cabbage. Cold, bland, and gelatinous. It’s possible that it might be cold and refreshing, on a hot summer day, because it basically tasted like water flavoured Jell-o but on an icy, cold day in Chicago’s Chinatown, it was horrendous.

  22. Erica Reply

    January 21, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Well, the worst thing my mom used to make was fried clams. FROZEN fried clams, that is; they came out of a box, went onto a cookie sheet, got baked in the oven for a while, and then in theory you had fried clams, while the reality was more like tough rubber bands that had been breaded with the world’s blandest breading. (And she still claims she’s not a bad cook, and that fried clams are really good and I’m just exaggerating…)

    The worst thing I’ve ever personally made was Jellied Bouillon with Frankfurters. NEVER gelatinize bouillon.

    • Yinzerella Reply

      January 29, 2012 at 5:23 pm

      I LOVE frozen fried clams! When I was in grad school I ate Howard Johnson’s brand frozen clam strips at least once a week.

      And I must read about the jellied frankfurters.

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  24. Debbie Reply

    January 28, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Peanut butter soup. It’s the only thing I’ve ever made that ended up in the garbage. Not that everything I’ve made got repeats for more!

  25. wendyvee Reply

    January 28, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Years ago, one of my professor’s invited a few students to his home for dinner. He had a very lovely Indian wife who made a number of Indian dishes for us.

    I have never been a fan of the smell of curry in the first place. As it turned out, I was experiencing the first few hours of a bout with the flu that lasted over a week. Not long after we began eating, I hurriedly excused myself to run to their powder room for a terrible “reversal of fortune”.

    I had both taps running to block the sound of my decidedly unfeminine outburst; but the door was probably 14 feet away from the table so I’m sure I wasn’t successful. I felt so terrible (and embarrassed) that I never wanted to come out!

  26. Miss Meghan Reply

    January 28, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    My husband (then boyfriend) and I went to his extended family’s get-together after the holidays a few years back, where all the women got in a sort of assembly line to make their traditional leftovers casserole thing. It was horrifying. They indiscriminately put all the leftovers from the holidays together (think turkey, rolls, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, corn, cranberry sauce, etc) with just a few added ingredients (milk, mayonnaise, industrial-sized cans of cream of chicken soup, American and cheddar cheeses, and more).

    As I witnessed them putting this together, I kept thinking they were just playing a joke on me…testing to see how far my politeness would go. Nope. After it was baked, we all dived in…everyone (except my man and me) loved it! And because they are all very sweet people and welcoming hosts, they kept encouraging me to have more! And because I am polite and would never want to offend anyone in their own home, I ate it (with COPIOUS amounts of wine).

    And if you think that a leftover holiday casserole has the potential to be great (hey, it mixes on the plate, why not bake it all together), just imagine finding bones in every other bite. YUM!

  27. Jacki Reply

    January 28, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Back in 1989 we arrived in England straight out of Pilot Training; we were so excited! We were getting to see the world! In my book, part of seeing the world was tasting it too. What specialty food do you think of when you think of England? Of course, FISH and CHIPS. On the way to our quarters, not too far from the base, was a quaint little fish and chips shop. I packed it into the back of my already jet lagged and foggy memory and vowed to get back there in the next few days. My husband not being a fish person declined when I mentioned that was what I wanted for lunch the next day, but being the sweet guy that he is said he would take me to get my fish. I went in to the shop and asked for an order of fish and chips. I noticed several whole grease soaked batter fried fish lying there staring back at me (eyes and all), but then I thought “they certainly wouldn’t sell me one of those!” HA! They sure did! He wrapped that and then wrapped some soggy grease soaked (probably fried in the fish oil) french fries in some butcher paper charged me an arm and a leg (the pound was double what the dollar was worth at the time) and politely sent me on my way. I got back to our Q room and decided ” well if this is what the Brits eat then it can’t be all bad”. Uh, Yeah. I cut the head and tail off, but I just couldn’t get past the scales that were stuck to the inside of the breading. Then when I had to remove the bones from the inside, it went straight into the trash. My hands were covered in grease and the paper it was wrapped in had grease puddles in it. Welcome to England!

  28. Alethea Reply

    January 29, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Mom made “prune whip” for dessert one summer evening. The recipe from a very similar book, though the name escapes me, and contained dream whip mixed with pureed prunes. All served in a pie crust. Ugh. I can understand ‘unusual’ main dishes, they’re bad but you can usually eat your way around them, but for goodness sake, don’t mess with dessert!

  29. Janet Reply

    January 29, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    I remember when Mom used to cook beef heart in the ’60’s. That stuff stinks! I don’t think I was able to even get any in my mouth and Mom took pity and let me make myself a PB&J sandwich instead, like she did when she cooked liver and onions. What was it with organ meats??!! They even served liver and onions at my elementary school…yuck!

    Speaking of PB&J, one of the oddest sandwiches Mom learned when she was young was Peanut Butter and Green Olives, sliced….I actually love that one.

  30. Sarah Reply

    March 25, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Government school lunch. Square cubes of taco meat, floating in a brown sauce, served with chips. And this was the norm in the 90s in a middle-class suburb.

  31. nicksmom2007 Reply

    November 30, 2013 at 10:43 am

    I know this contest is closed but I’ve just recently discovered retro Ruth and am now a huge fan. I couldn’t resist adding my “worst” food experience. One year we had to help my mother in law out because her deep freeze died. We had to throw out a lot of years old now thawed food before getting her a new freezer. A few days after we got her all taken care of we visited to see how the new deep freeze was working out. Upon entering her home I was hit with the most revolting smell I’ve ever smelled (and I’ve worked in hospitals). I quickly said to my mother in law that the chicken she was cooking was spoiled. I thought we had somehow missed a rotten pack of chicken when cleaning out her old freezer. She assured me that she was not cooking rotten chicken. She was boiling chitlins for Sunday dinner. Gaaaaa! No, I never tried them. And I eat a lot of super strange food. I think, not unlike tripe, you have to be raised on that type of food to even consider it food. Yuck!!!!

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