Childhood, Food, Recipes

Mom’s Shrimp Dip Reminds Me of the 70’s. Without the Shag Carpeting Aftertaste


I have vague fond memories from the ’70s.
I say vague because I can only remember bits and pieces as I was only ages 0-9 within that decade.
But I do have strong memories of things such as the music that played throughout our home, the clothing that my parents wore and of course, the shag carpeting.

I recall my dad wearing lots of plaid pants and my mom wearing owl necklaces, having her long hair put up in bandanas, and lots of bell-bottom pants.
We had spider plants in macrame plant holders, we rode in cars with windows open (because no air conditioning) and listened to 8-track tapes and sat in the front seats There was much more freedom, not as much fear and it was, almost unencumbering? Is that even a word? I remember sitting on said shag carpeting and staying up late (on a school night) and watching the Roots miniseries (at the age of seven) on the television with my mom and dad, then talked about the next day around the breakfast table with my mom and dad.

And we ate casseroles, casseroles, and more casseroles.
That wasn’t the only thing we ate but casseroles were to the ’70s what organic food/paleo food/ quinoa is to 2014, currently.

My childhood kitchen


The ’70s was my happy place decade because it was where I lived with my parents, brother, and grandma, and before I had cares in the world like boyfriends or clothes or peer pressures. The only cares I had was if my mom cut the crusts off the sandwich in my lunch or if I could ride my bike outside after school.
I hope I am creating the same kind of shag carpet/Dorothy Hamill/watching Roots late on a school night childhood for both of my girls.


My mom and I in 1980

To say the fondest memories I have revolve around food would be an understatement.
If my parents had known this upon me coming out of the womb, they could have saved a lot of money on road trips and name brand cereal.
Almost every great memory I have as I have grown up has an equally amazing recipe that goes along with it.
Christmas usually meant chocolate crinkle cookies and bacon-wrapped water chestnuts.
Halloween immediately takes me back to apple cider, homemade donuts, and macaroni and cheese fresh from the oven.

I can smell the apples being cooked for the homemade applesauce from the orchard picked produce, the tomatoes being boiled in preparation for canning for homemade spaghetti sauce.
I can hear the popping of popcorn on the stove, hear my mom and grandma’s voices talking about old memories while baking Christmas cookies, laughing about old stories while I smell the chicken roasting in the oven on a Sunday evening.
To this day, when I make waffles on a rainy Saturday morning, it takes me back so vividly I can actually hear my dad’s newspaper rustling in the other room.
Homemade food equates to security in my world.
The kitchen was the center of my Universe, even as a child. It still is.


My childhood Ohio kitchen

Appetizers are one of my favorite all-time foods so a few times a year, I center an entire meal around them.
Because appetizers don’t require commitment like a ham or a meatloaf or even hamburgers on the grill do.
A dip is just a dip.
You make it, you get crackers or vegetables to dip in it and that’s it.
You don’t need to spend an entire day making it or a fortune paying for it.
Even if you like fancier appetizers, like brie, you just slap the cheese on a plate, stick a knife in it or add fancy crackers if you feel inclined (or just Triscuits, like we do) and boom, you’ve got yourself dinner.

My childhood kitchen

My mom’s “famous” shrimp dip is a childhood favorite appetizer of our entire family and every time we would have a gathering, we would all ask mom to make it.
It wasn’t a party without it.
My baby shower?
Shrimp Dip.
Our rehearsal dinner?
Shrimp Dip.
Getaway weekend in Louisville, Kentucky?
Mom brought shrimp dip.

My husband and children even love it and they are the pickiest eaters on the planet.
Ella doesn’t know that there is actual fish in the dip.


Every year when we put our Christmas tree up, we serve appetizers for dinner.
It is a tradition we all look forward to each year.
We sit around the table and eat all sorts of fun pig in blanket types of foods.
Some years it’s dips, cheese balls, and mini corn dogs.
Others it’s pizza rolls, chicken tenders and cheese, and crackers.
But it always ALWAYS includes mom’s shrimp dip.

For many reasons, because it is hella good, it is easy to make and everyone loves it.
But mainly because it is like she is with us while we are trimming our tree and eating our dip.
With every bite, I am transporting my little family back to our 1976 sunken family room in suburban Chicago, Illinois.
My mom, grandma, dad, and little brother are there and we are listening to Stevie Wonder singing Christmas songs and decorating our artificial tree with handmade ornaments and macrame Santa’s.
Funny how food and music can take you back.

So this holiday season, enjoy my mom’s famous shrimp dip, turn on some Stevie Wonder and let yourself go.

A special thank you to our family friend Terrie, who reached out to me to suggest writing this post.
She has fond memories of the parties my parents threw in the 70s and what was front and center?
The shrimp dip, of course. 


Mom’s Shrimp Dip

1 small can of shrimp ( drained and rinsed )
1/2 C. celery, chopped fine
1/4 C. green onion, chopped fine
1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 C. Miracle Whip ( we substitute mayonnaise now)
1 small ( 3 oz. ) cream cheese, softened
Ritz crackers or Triscuit crackers

Mix all except the crackers and chill until you serve.

8 thoughts on “Mom’s Shrimp Dip Reminds Me of the 70’s. Without the Shag Carpeting Aftertaste”

  1. Just about every memory I have from childhood has a taste attached to it. I love your food memories, and that we are making some of our own together. Pie, anyone?


  2. A) I know that sliding glass door B) If I come see you, will you make shrimp dip? C) Thank you…..brings me right back to many great memories, with the Stevie Wonder in the background…and some ABBA


      1. I can’t remember my mom’s recipe exactly and I’ve seen many variations. I want to come as close as possible to hers.


  3. Too funny. I recently found a few cans of Cream of Shrimp soup (Campbell’s of course) & it flashed me back to my mom’s parties with Shrimp dip. Only after I bought all three cans did I remember that the Campbell’s she used was a frozen “can”, similar to a concentrated juice can.

    But, I soldiered on and this week bought a package of cream cheese and added a can of the soup/ some finely chopped onion and celery/ and a healthy selection of fresh steamed NC shrimp (spiced with Old Bay).

    After chilling it, it was better than my first sampling of it. A bit thinner than I expected (likely from the fresh shrimp needing to be blotted more) but it actually tasted good. It wasn’t my mom’s or maybe it was – maybe tastes have grown more sophisticated or maybe taste buds are aging. What really amazed me was my finicky spouse actually ate some and said it was great/not to add a thing to it. That was a startling thing as he is somewhat a pill when it comes to viscosity. ( I figured he would find this “slimy”).

    So, discovering your flash back to the 70’s and Shrimp Dip along with the rest of your blog was great to read and perfect to have a bowl of Shrimp dip to eat as I read it. We’re in a bit of a different generation. My milestones of the 70’s were graduating from high school at the onset of the decade/college in ’74 and subsequent marriage and first child appearing on the scene in ’76. But shrimp dip and casseroles (the rice one with lipton soup and sausage/celery and piles of other stuff comes to mind) were surely a big part of that party scene.

    Thank you for a delightful, well-written flash to the past.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never heard of Cream of Shrimp soup and I’ve definitely never heard of frozen soup! How interesting! I will be sharing this story with my mom!

      Thank you so much for your kind comment. This dip recipe is still a family favorite. 🙂


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