8 Vintage Desserts You’re Going to See on Restaurant Menus
If you’re on the lookout for the latest foodie trends in 2023, look no further than the dessert menu. According to trend forecasters, vintage desserts are predicted to make a big comeback on restaurant menus across the U.S. in the coming months, much to the delight of fans of such classics as Baked Alaska, German Chocolate Cake, and banana pudding.
And it won’t be the fancy places with these old-school familiar flavors. Chain restaurants are getting in on the fun too, creating vintage-inspired treats and milkshakes that will remind you of your childhood.
Whether you want to keep up with the trend at home or find something new to order at your local restaurant, here are the vintage desserts you’ll be seeing everywhere in 2023.
A true icon of Southern-style cuisine according to Southern Living, banana pudding first hit the scene in the 1920s with its classic recipe including Nabisco Nilla Wafers.
These days, you can find banana pudding in many different forms with or without the signature Nilla Wafers, including a milkshake at the Texas fast-food chain Whataburger, per San Antonio Current.
For a more traditional banana pudding, head to The Peach Cobbler Factory, based out of Nashville, Tennessee. Or search a Southern-inspired restaurant near you.
And for a super-affordable fast food option, Popeyes’ menu occasionally has had some version of banana pudding for years, with the most recent being its Banana Cream Cake, according to The Takeout.
Get our recipe for Banana Pudding.
Like many food and drink items that have a long history, the exact origins of Baked Alaska are up for debate. According to Thrillist, the dessert first came about in the 1860s at the famous Delmonico’s in New York City to commemorate the purchase of the Alaskan territories from Russia.
Over the years, other restaurants added Baked Alaska to their menus, some adding unique twists to their versions. While the original Baked Alaska contains banana ice cream, walnut spice cake, and a toasted meringue shell, other places include strawberry, cotton candy, and devil’s food cake.
Some restaurants, like Sveta’s in New York, take it a step further and literally light the dessert on fire at your table.
Get Sally’s Baking Addiction’s recipe for a brownie-based Baked Alaska.
Not everything that is deemed vintage has to be over a hundred years old. The molten chocolate cake first popped up on menus in the 1980s. The ‘erupting’ chocolate dessert actually came about in France, only then to become a massive success in the U.S. in the 1990s.
Over the years, it’s been found everywhere from high-end restaurants to supermarkets, with some variations including caramel, ice cream (like the one at Applebee’s), and even matcha at New York’s Spot Dessert Bar. Molten chocolate cakes continue to be a popular dessert, so don’t expect them to go anywhere in 2023.
Get our recipe for Molten Chocolate Cake.
Despite what the name suggests, the German Chocolate Cake is quintessentially American. It was named after Sam German, who developed a baking chocolate in the 1850s called Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate. One hundred years later, a recipe for a chocolate cake using the German chocolate bar rose in popularity.
The classic recipe has been a staple at many restaurants across the U.S., including the family-owned Spring Hill Pastry Shop in West Virginia. As the saying goes, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Some restaurants, like Nutmeg Restaurant in East Windsor, Connecticut, play up their German Chocolate Cake by trying different layering techniques and adding a touch of salted caramel, as one reviewer on TripAdvisor pointed out.
Get Sally’s Baking Addiction’s recipe for German Chocolate Cake.
The classic English dessert has a contested history, according to the BBC. What fans of the Sticky Toffee Pudding can agree on, however, is that the typical ingredients you would find in a traditional pudding are dates and sugar. Most stories seem to trace the dessert’s origins back over the past 100 years or so, but you will still find the dessert today. Shoppers are even able to find a take-home version of the date cake at Costco.
Similar versions of the premade dessert are also served on airlines worldwide, including British Airways, reports Culture Map. Even Omaha Steaks sells Sticky Toffee Pudding you can have delivered straight to your door. Also, Better Homes & Gardens predicts that dates will be a big hit next year, so perhaps sticky toffee pudding will experience its own bump in popularity as well.
Get our recipe for Sticky Toffee Date Cake.
Ice cream floats, also known as root beer floats, first came about by accident in 1874. According to the Chicago Tribune, Robert Green substituted ice cream in his popular carbonated beverage when he ran out of regular cream at his Philadelphia soda shop. Since then, floats have come in all varieties and flavors, using a number of combinations of both ice cream and beverage options.
The surge in popularity for floats has been tracked for a couple of decades now, so expect them to remain a popular drink of choice in 2023. Classic floats are available in ice cream shops around the U.S.; however, this is one dessert that can easily be customized to follow new trends.
Various recipes have popped up around the internet of Kombucha floats, as the drink itself has grown in popularity in recent years, so expect that to be one of the latest evolution of the classic float. Customers are also learning to hack a Coke float at McDonald’s.
While it’s not an ice cream float, get our recipe for an old-fashioned milkshake.
Citrus-infused desserts are on the rise, and key lime pie is not just exclusive to Southern Florida these days. It is rumored that the dessert first appeared in the late 1800s, according to Southern Living, with the dessert becoming popular throughout the 1900s.
Some have pondered on Quora why the dessert seems to be so popular these days, and many might fear the dessert’s decline in relevance, since it’s no longer considered the official sweet treat of the state of Florida, per Wall Street Journal.
But expect this tart dessert to inspire many a menu staple in 2023, including both classic desserts at restaurants, especially those in southern destination spots like Miami, Florida as well as a slice of pie in drink form, like the Coastal Key Lime Margarita at Texas Roadhouse.
Get our recipe for a Key Lime Pie.
The banana split was a once-popular ice cream treat nationwide after being invented shortly after the turn of the 20th century, but it faded to the background as desserts became more and more elaborate over the years.
With restaurants looking to cut menu costs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we may see the return of the simple yet delicious banana split in 2023. There are currently a few spots where you can find the banana split, including Denny’s and Dairy Queen. But we wouldn’t be surprised if more restaurants pick up on this trend as they look to offer more cost-effective desserts.
Get our recipe for a Grilled Banana Split.
Which of these vintage desserts are you most excited to see on restaurant menus in 2023?