I posted about the 1950s and 1960s, and the 1970s. Here are the 1980s. Kitchens are higher-tech with more gadgets, especially a microwave oven which changed not only the food the Robshaws ate, but family dynamics. There was more variety of food compared to decades previous, and more food generally. People spent about a quarter to a third of their income feeding themselves in years past, now just a tenth.
This is the decade where people became more self-focused. (Paul Roberts talks about this rise of the self in his book, Impulse Society… how impulsive, short-sighted actions, not just by individuals but by politicians, executives, and other leaders, are fracturing the institutions we need to survive.) It’s the decade where the needs and whims of the person rose above the needs of the family. In the 50s, 60s and early 70s, families shared food and often mealtimes. If you wanted to eat, you had to wait until a meal was prepared and served, and you had to gather around a table and eat the same food as everyone else. With the rise of convenience foods, fast-food chains, and appliances like the microwave, electric sandwich makers, and coffee makers, each family member could eat what they wanted, when they wanted.
With an increased focus on the self, people began to follow fad diets (Brandon wasn’t fond of his grapefruit diet) and engage in body-sculpting exercise. They joined exercise classes or followed an instructor on the TV, they jogged while listening to a Walkman, they wore colorful body-conscious clothing. Brandon noted a more visible schism in society between the haves and the have-nots, more conspicuous consumption. The haves were purchasing expensive cars, eating nouvelle cuisine at expensive restaurants, drinking more wine and more alcohol in general. The have-nots were returning to the food of the 50s and 60s … potatoes, cabbage, root vegetables, and less meat. There was increasing discord in the community, and less intimacy in the family.