The diet of the average American family is always changing. From fat is bad and carbs are good to carbs are bad to fat is good and everything in between, the way we eat changes with the tides about as fast as our fashion and hairstyles do. So, what were some popular (and maybe obscure) favorite family dishes that adorned the tables of American families in Idaho? Let’s explore a few wild, nostalgic, whacky, and dare we say, delicious food items from our great state.

Jimmy Carter’s Special Cheese Wheel Dip

As a kid growing up in the 1980’s in Idaho, we loved cheese! There are very few things more 80’s than Jimmy Carter and homemade dips! Carter was the president at the very top of the 80’s spanning from 79 to 81, so many American’s first president of the 80’s was a peanut farmer from Georgia. A family tradition of the Carters was to bring this humble cheese wheel dish to their Thanksgiving dinners. And now you can too! Here’s the recipe which can also be found here on this website:


Jimmy Carter's Plains Special Cheese Ring


  • 1 lb. grated sharp cheese
  • 1 cup finely chopped nuts
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 small finely grated onion
  • Black pepper
  • Dash of cayenne


Mix all the ingredients, then mold with your hands into the desired shape (Mrs. Carter molds it into a ring). Place in the refrigerator until chilled.


Hot Dr. Pepper Mixed Drinks

This is a Thanksgiving special that comes straight from childhood in the 70’s and 80’s. If you were a kid and you wanted a special drink for the holidays (or are a fan of mocktails) you definitely loved creating fun mixed drinks that everyone could enjoy. One of the most memorable concoctions is this Thanksgiving go to, a hot Dr. Pepper mocktail. Here’s how to make one of your own:


  • 1 Two liter bottle of Dr. Pepper (make sure you use regular and not diet)
  • 2 Fresh lemons, sliced 
  • Mugs for serving



Pour the bottle of soda into a 2 quart saucepan until it is a little over two thirds full. Heat on medium to medium low for about 10 minutes, until the liquid reaches 180 degrees F. While the soda is heating, slice your lemons and squeeze one or two slices to taste into the heating liquid.


Once the soda is hot, then simply ladle into mugs and garnish with lemon slices as desired. 


And there you have it! Grandma’s hot Dr. Pepper Thanksgiving recipe! It is not for the faint of heart!


The Infamous Green Bean Casserole

In our house, it just wasn’t Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner without a giant dish of green bean casserole. No one truly knows how this tradition came about or even if it was originally meant to be consumed by humans, but that never stopped our family from serving it every year. Here is the recipe we always used:


  • 3 to 4 cans of french cut green beans
  • 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups fried onion crisps 
  • 10 pieces of bacon, chopped (optional)


Add 1 and a half cans of cream of mushroom soup to a glass casserole dish and preheat the oven to 350F. Stir up to spread evenly. Add in the soy sauce, black pepper and 1.5 cups fried onion crisps. Stir to combine evenly. 

Rinse the green beans briefly and let drip dry. Stir in to casserole dish. Cover with tin foil.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and top with remaining onion crisps. (Optional: while it is baking the first time, fry up the bacon, chop it, and add it to the top at this time).

Bake uncovered for five to ten minutes until the onions are golden brown.


Serve and enjoy!




These are some of the more memorable Thanksgiving holiday dishes of yore. We hope you enjoyed them! Please share and tell us about your family Thanksgiving food recipes and memories. Have a happy Thanksgiving everybody!