Foods of the 80s: Carob and Sprouts

Foods of the 80s: Carob and Sprouts

Thumbs down to carob... thumbs up for sprouts!

 

In the 1980s, carob and sprouts were as ubiquitous as energy drinks and yogurt are today. I would venture to say that in the 1980s everyone ate carob and sprouts, some more often than others.
 
Both carob and sprouts came from the "hippie crunchy granola" health food crazes of the 1970s. Although they were considered fringe-y in the 1970s, the health beliefs of the 1980s brought them into the mainstream. Namely: that fat was the enemy.
 
If carbs are considered the enemy today, it was fat in the 1980s. All fat, any kind of it, was frowned upon. No one made a distinction between what we now believe are healthy fats (like olive oil) and unhealthy fats (like trans fats). 

 
Fat hatred is what brought carob to the fore. Carob is similar to, but not identical to, chocolate. It's like chocolate's ugly, boring cousin that no one wants to sit next to at the big family dinner. The sole health benefit to carob is that it is made with less fat than chocolate. Chocolate contains cocoa butter, and usually milk fat as well. Carob contains less fat, but considering today's information on fat, it often contains fats which are worse for you than cocoa butter. 
 
But no matter. How many kids in the 1980s were browbeaten by cheerful parents into eating carob chip cookies and carob bars because "it's just as good?" We all knew it was not "just as good." Not even close. Carob has the texture of a bar of soap, and only a lunatic would think it tasted like chocolate.
 
These days, the main use for carob is as an ingredient in vegan foods, and for people who are allergic to actual chocolate. Carob is also used in "chocolate" treats for dogs and babies, because real chocolate is toxic to animals and infants.
 
By comparison, fresh sprouts only look better with time. In the 1980s every kitchen had a set of those brightly colored plastic mesh lids for mason jars. Add seeds and water to the jar, then use the lids to strain out the water every day until the sprouts are ready to eat.
 
Fresh sprouts are packed full of vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. In most cases they have more nutrition than their grown form - for example, broccoli sprouts are even better for you than actual broccoli.
 
It's a little unfair that the fad for DIY sprouts has long since passed, but you can still buy carob at the store!