What The Original Versions Of 12 Popular Dishes Actually Tasted Like

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Vote up the best originals.

In the last decade, we've seen some pretty wild variations of food emerge as people feel more comfortable sharing their experiments with friends and the world on social media. 

But have you ever thought about what the original versions of popular dishes tasted like? Was chocolate always so sweet? Did ancient people enjoy a crisp pot pie as much as we do? Did sushi use to be way saltier? (Spoiler: yes.)

So which of these dishes would you have indulged in their original form? Which would you prefer to eat today's version of?


  • 1
    307 VOTES

    Pizza has been around, in some form or fashion, since the days of ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. Back then, their pizza looked more like flatbread or focaccia. 

    But the pizza we recognize today was created in Naples, Italy around the turn of the 19th century. Naples was known as a lower-income city, and the residents were looking for cheap, quick meals. 

    So, someone decided to put toppings on flatbreads; and soon vendors were selling these handheld bites all over the city. At the time, other “more cultured” Italian citizens looked down on this barbaric way of eating - but the Neapolitans didn't seem to mind. In fact, when the Italian King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visited Naples in 1889, they wanted to have some of the authentic Neapolitan cuisine they'd heard of. Queen Margherita reportedly liked one pie so much - a variety that had mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil - that the pizza was named after her. (If you'd ever wondered where pizza margherita came from.)

    Yet even after this royal approval, pizza stayed popular only within Naples' borders until another country popularized the dish. That country? The U.S.A.

    Neapolitan immigrants brought with them their tasty pizza, and they started opening up actual pizza shops around the U.S., notably in New York City. Americans quickly deemed the dish as delicious rather than barbaric, and the pizza frenzy that we know today was born. 

  • 2
    305 VOTES

    Did you know that every variety of tea - black, green, oolong, white - all comes from the same plant? The plant is called Camellia sinensis, and where the tea plant grows, and when it is harvested, affects the difference in taste. 

    So when tea was originally discovered in China, it was from the very same plant that we use today for tea. The legend goes that tea was discovered way back in 2,700 BCE when Chinese emperor Shen Nung was relaxing under a tree. His servant was boiling some water for him to drink, and some leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant accidentally blew into the water. The emperor tried the drink and was hooked. 

    So, other than the added flavorings we've come up with in recent years, tea has remained relatively unchanged since its creation thousands of years ago. 

  • Mac And Cheese
    Photo: Texasfoodgawker / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0
    296 VOTES

    Today, mac and cheese has about a thousand different varieties. You could get a $50 mac and cheese with lobster, and a five-cheese blend or make the childhood staple of Kraft mac and cheese at home for about a dollar. 

    However, its origins take us back to the land of pasta: Italy. The first recipe for a macaroni and cheese-like dish called de lasanis, was found in the 13th century, where the dish required pasta to be cut into 2-inch squares, cooked in water, and tossed with grated cheese (which was more than likely parmesan.)

    But did you know who popularized mac and cheese in America? If not, here's your most quotable fact from this article: Thomas Jefferson popularized macaroni and cheese in America. 

    While Jefferson did help make mac and cheese popular, it was in fact his enslaved black chef, James Hemmings (Sally's brother), who created the dish that we love today. While mac and cheese have been a part of African-American weekend meals and celebrations for centuries, Hemmings perfected his casserole-like recipe while living in Europe with Jefferson.

  • 4
    183 VOTES

    We can enjoy chocolate in many different ways today - as candy, brownies, and cake. But the first form of chocolate was enjoyed as a drink by the Aztec emperor, Montezuma

    When Spanish royalty got their hands on the drink from their conquests of the Americas in the 1500s, they also enjoyed chocolate in liquid form. 

    It wasn't until 1847 that Joseph Fry figured out how to turn cocoa powder and sugar into a paste, which could be formed into a bar. With this, the chocolate bar was born. However, this original chocolate bar was made of bittersweet chocolate. Our modern tastebuds would likely not find this chocolate nearly as delicious as the 19th-century folks did. 

    This period of bitter chocolate lasted only a few years before Henry Nestle and Daniel Peter created milk chocolate, with the addition of evaporated milk. 

  • 5
    132 VOTES

    If you're looking for a hot, controversial debate, get residents of Frankfurt and Vienna together, and ask them who invented the hot dog. 

    Each has a formidable claim, seeing as their city names are both featured in very popular varieties of sausage - wienerwurst and frankfurter. (As Vienna's German name is Wien.) However, Frankfurt holds the more accepted claim as the creator of the hot dog in the 1600s, which used to be known as the dachshund sausage. 

    These hot dogs weren't all that different from ours today it seems, other than having sauerkraut as its main topping. A milk roll as a bun seemed to be added in the 1800s, likely in the United States by a German immigrant hot dog push cart owner. 

  • 6
    152 VOTES

    While the British Earl of Sandwich often gets recognition for creating the sandwich in the 1700s, its history seems to predate this popularization of the term. 

    In 110 BCE, Hillel the Elder was a Jewish rabbi who was said to encourage the eating of bitter herbs between unleavened matzo bread during Jewish Passover. He had a very specific reason for this combination as well - the herbs represented the bitterness of slavery, while the matzo bread symbolized the flatbreads Israelites baked quickly before fleeing Egypt.

    Over the years, the sandwich did seem to grow closer to the staple we know today, as a recipe from the 1700s refers to a sandwich as having “a bit of cold meat.”