As mentioned in my previous post about spiral cut hot dogs, I recently held a 1950s themed cookout as my birthday party. First off, yes, I still have birthday parties, despite turning 34 this year (2012). It’s a tradition. I think only once have I forgone having a birthday party of some sort. The reason for this is that it’s in the summer and growing up as a kid, it was a nice mid-way point between getting out of school and going back to school for me to see my friends, and everyone just to get together. As for adulthood, well, everyone likes parties in the summer and I frequently default to some sort of cookout or BBQ. Now that all that is out of the way, let’s get to the specifics of how we pulled this off.
It seems that retro or throwback stuff is kind of popular right now. I think I’ve always liked old stuff regardless, but all the same, I have this Coca-Cola shirt that is faded to look much older than it is. As I was thinking about what to do this year for a party, I had decided I wanted to do something slightly different than the standard BBQ at my house; something a bit more creative. During all my thinking, I was changing out of my PJs and into street clothes. I grab my Coca-Cola shirt to wear and it just kind of came to me. I was going to do an old-school birthday party cookout.
Here is a list of things I eventually settled on that I wanted to do for this party:
- Glass bottled Coke
- Photo Strips (like in those Photo Booths)
- Milkshake Bar
- Drive-In Movie
- 1950s Music
The food was the easy part. Cookout food hasn’t changed too much since the 1950s, so we threw on some hamburgers and hot dogs.
We did put the spiral cut on the hot dogs, which may or may not be a new thing, I have no idea. It was just cool and everyone seemed to like eating them. I did find some diner-style ketchup and mustard bottles that looked like the ones here (minus the mayo).
I found glass bottle Coke at Costco. It’s actually Mexican Coke (made with real sugar versus canned Coke now with corn syrup), however I have seen US Coke for sale in smaller glass bottles. I like Mexican Coke better, so we went that route. I’m not sure if you can get it everywhere, but in California, it’s pretty popular. If you’ve not had the real sugar stuff recently (all Coke used to be made this way), I’d run out and find some if you enjoy Coke as much as I do.
For the rest of the food, we just did traditional sides: Potato Salad, Pasta Salad, Baked Beans, Chips, etc….
We also had plenty of desserts in the form of banana pudding, strawberry cake, and red, white and blue strawberries. Here is a recipe to make those. Those weren’t exactly 1950s, but my birthday is near the 4th of July, so it seemed fitting enough.
This was relatively easy to set up as well. We bought a few containers of vanilla ice cream and jugs of milk, as well as chocolate syrup, malt mix, caramel syrup, strawberry syrup, bananas and strawberries. I wanted to find some old-fashioned milkshake glasses but ran out of time and had to settle on plastic cups. We used our blender and two others and set it up on the bar in our kitchen, with the toppings nearby. We obviously left the milk and ice cream in the fridge and freezer.
We hooked in the speakers to my computer and streamed Pandora’s 1950s Rock-n-Roll station. The music seemed to be a hit.
This went over really well too. There is an app for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices called PocketBooth. It has 4 pictures of someone a few seconds apart like in a photobooth. They then give you 4 different filters you can apply to it. We used the black and white one. The app worked great. It think it was $0.99 for iPhone/iPad and $1.99 for Android. I bought it for my phone as well as our iPad. The photo to the right is a test photo and we weren’t using the black and white filter there, however, I highly recommend the app. You can also have it actually mail the photo strips to you or someone else for an added in-app cost.
Okay, it really wasn’t a “drive-in” movie. It was more like a “sit-in” movie, but it was outdoors. This is something that may be a bit harder to pull off for everyone. I am fortunate that I live where I work. That means I had access to our spare projector. I was also able to hang the projector screen on a wall outside by our patio. If you have a big enough TV, I imagine you could set it up outside and pull off something similar without having to have a projector or screen. For our movie, we choose Beach Blanket Bingo, a Frankie and Annette movie. I made my projector screen last summer with white black out cloth fabric. I put some grommets in it (metal holes for hanging) to hang it on the wall and secured it down with string attached to the bottom grommets and stakes in the ground. We hooked up my computer to the projector and the computer sound into the speakers we used for the music during the evening. Everyone pulled their chairs around, covered up with blankets (it’s rather cold in Monterey during the summer), and sat back for the movie. If we hadn’t had so much food already, popcorn would have been a nice treat for that. We had to wait until dark at about 8:30 pm or so, but all in all, it worked out well.