Ask your friends about their favorite TV shows and Netflix’s Stranger Things is bound to come up. The show follows a group of boys investigating their friend’s disappearance (with the help of a mysterious telekinetic girl who escaped from a mysterious government agency.) Stranger Things won over Netflix fans with its charming protagonists and delightful ’80s references. The most famous of those references? Eleven’s strange love for Eggo waffles.
Want to know what else Eleven, Mike, Dustin, and Lucas ate on Stranger Things? Read on to check out all the foods featured on the Netflix show — and to judge how well those food choices represent the cuisine of the 1980s.
It’s not technically a food. But the first consumable to appear on Stranger Things is a can of Coca-Cola, just two and a half minutes in to the first episode of the first season. The cans feature the design the company debuted in the 1970s. Coke also appears elsewhere in the first season. In the third episode, we see Eleven watching a Coca-Cola commercial (that aired in 1983). Then, she has a flashback to telekinetically crushing a Coca-Cola can. And in the seventh episode, Tommy gets Steve a can of Coca-Cola to wash down some aspirin after a fistfight with Jonathan.
Next: The kind of pizza the boys eat while playing Dungeons & Dragons
2. Sausage and pepperoni pizza
As Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Will wrap up their game in the first few minutes of the inaugural episode, we see the last slice of their dinner: a sausage and pepperoni pizza. (By the late 1960s, even toaster pizzas from Nabisco came in sausage-and-pepperoni varieties.) Dustin offers the slice of pizza to Nancy, Mike’s older sister, as she talks on the phone to Barb. But when she slams her bedroom door in his face, he gamely takes the slice of pizza on the bike ride home.
Next: The sandwich that didn’t keep Detective Hopper from passing out drunk
3. Turkey sandwich
When we first meet Detective Jim Hopper, he’s sprawled out in his living room — next to a half-eaten turkey sandwich and many cans of Schlitz beer. That turkey sandwich seems pretty strategically placed. Serious Eats posits that a good turkey sandwich numbers among the comfort foods familiar to those who grew up in the 1980s. And USA Today dubs the turkey sandwich “one of the defining sandwiches of the 1980s.” Good choice, Stranger Things.
Next: The breakfast food several families make on “Stranger Things”
4. Scrambled eggs
Also in the first episode of the first season of Stranger Things, we learn multiple families like making scrambled eggs for breakfast. Jonathan Byers cooks up scrambled eggs served with orange juice and toast. And the Wheelers eat scrambled eggs with pancakes and syrup — which Mike applies straight to his eggs, much to Nancy’s disgust. (Even worse is when he dumps syrup on her scrambled eggs, too.) Scrambled eggs also appear in the second episode of the first season, when Jonathan tries to get his mother, Joyce Byers, to eat a breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast as they prepare posters featuring Will’s picture.
Next: The classic breakfast found at the Hawkins Police Station
5. Glazed doughnuts
Stranger Things didn’t pass up the opportunity to play off the classic trope about cops and their doughnuts. When Detective Hopper arrives at the Hawkins Police Station, his first move is to grab a glazed doughnut and a cup of coffee. He reminds Flo, the station’s secretary, that “Mornings are for coffee and contemplation,” when she pushes him to get started on what turns out to be a very unusual day.
Next: The first food Eleven eats after escaping the Hawkins Lab
6. French fries
The first thing Eleven eats when she escapes her mysterious government captors? An order of french fries at Benny’s Burgers. That might sound like a great food to get to eat on set. But Millie Bobby Brown, the actress who plays Eleven, begs to differ. She tells Bon Appetit the day she filmed this (and the ensuing scenes) “was the worst day in the world!” She explains, “I had to stuff my face with cold fries. They were so greasy.”
Next: The food Benny uses to try to get Eleven to talk
The next thing Benny gives Eleven once he realizes she’s not a thief but a kid in trouble? A simple hamburger. Brown told Bon Appetit of her experience filming the scene, “I had like three burgers, and I’d put them in my mouth, and they were cold. I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ I had a cup beside me, and I would say ‘Eleven,’ and then I would spit the burger into the cup and come back up. There’s a blooper take where I just spit it right out. Everyone starts laughing.”
Next: The first dinner Mrs. Wheeler serves her family on the show
8. Chicken, mixed vegetables, and tater tots
In the meantime, the Wheeler family is sitting down to dinner. The meal Mrs. Wheeler has cooked up appears to include chicken, tater tots, dinner rolls, and the kind of mixed veggies (carrots, green beans, and corn) that every suburban family in the 1980s and 1990s seemed to have in their freezer at all times. Stranger Things seemed to make a statement about 1980s cuisine with those tater tots — especially when family patriarch Ted Wheeler pointedly popped one in his mouth with his fingers instead of using his fork.
Next: Eleven’s first brush with a classic dessert
9. Strawberry ice cream
Eleven follows up her meal of fries and a burger with some strawberry ice cream, eaten straight from the carton. The flavor seems innocuous enough. But apparently, Millie Bobby Brown hates strawberry ice cream. She tells Bon Appetit, “We were on set, and they asked what flavor I wanted. I told them I prefer light vanilla, but I asked what looks better on camera. Little things like that make a difference. They said strawberry. Ugh, that is my worst flavor. I asked the question, didn’t I? So I was like OK. Fine. I ran to my trailer green. I wanted to vomit so badly.”
Next: The most famous food featured on “Stranger Things”
10. Eggo waffles
OK, we promised you a list of all the foods other than Eggos that appear on Stranger Things. But we just couldn’t skip them. The waffles first appear in the second episode of the first season, when Mike scarfs one down for breakfast and takes one to Eleven.
But the most famous Eggo-centric scene in the first season? That comes in Episode 6, when Eleven walks into a grocery store and emerges with multiple boxes of Eggos. Brown tells Bon Appetit that over the course of filming the first season, “I’d say there were about 15 or 20 waffles. Well, not to literally eat, like not digesting the whole thing. I’d say I only actually ate one or two total.” As the Dieline reports, “Eggo Waffles are to Stranger Things as Reese’s Pieces are to ET.”
Next: The classic comfort food the Wheelers eat for dinner
11. Meatloaf, green beans, and mashed potatoes
Karen Wheeler turns out to be the most prolific cook on the show. In the first season’s second episode, we see her sitting down to a dinner of meatloaf, green beans, mashed potatoes, and rolls with Mike, Dustin, Lucas, Nancy, Holly, and Ted.
Food Timeline notes meatloaf and gravy — “often paired with mashed potatoes and canned green beans,” just like in Stranger Things, became very popular in American households in the 1950s. So it’s entirely possible than parents like Karen and Ted grew up on meatloaf and considered it a comfort food. It’s during this dinner that Eleven sneaks down the stairs, and the boys have to distract Mike’s parents to keep them from spotting her.
Next: The beverage that’s surprisingly ubiquitous on the first season of the show
Sure, it’s not a food. But beer appears often enough in the first season of Stranger Things that it’s worth mentioning. One of the first things we learn about Detective Hopper is that he seems to be partial to Schlitz beer. But some underage characters sample beer on the show, as well.
In the second episode of the first season, Steve and Nancy shotgun beers. Does their drinking method of choice seems odd? Then, maybe you didn’t come of age in the 1980s. Forbes reports, “Gone are the days of beer-ponging, shot-gunning and keg-standing.” According to a survey, “Three out of four millennial drinkers say they limit how much they drink most of the time they go out.” That may get difficult to do if you’re shotgunning beers.
Next: The snacks Dustin packs for Operation Mirkwood
13. Assorted snacks
When Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Eleven head out to carry out “Operation Mirkwood” and find Will, they bring supplies with them. Lucas brings binoculars, an army knife, a hammer, a camouflage bandana, and a Wrist Rocket slingshot.
But Dustin thinks more pragmatically. They’re going to get hungry, right? He dumps out his haul of snacks, including Little Debbie Nutty Bars, Bazooka bubble gum, Pez, Smarties, Pringles (which the Dieline reports are actually in a 1968 version of the can), Nilla Wafers, an apple, a banana, and some trail mix.
Next: The unidentifiable food served at the school cafeteria
14. Mystery meat, vegetables, and applesauce
In the third episode of Stranger Things‘ first season, Nancy eats at the school cafeteria with Steve, Tommy, and Carol. The school lunches appear to include applesauce, mixed vegetables, mashed potatoes, a carton of orange juice, and what looks like meatloaf — or some type of mystery meat. It’s definitely hard to tell. Mental Floss notes in the 1970s, many schools had hamburgers on their cafeteria menus. And in the 1980s, processed foods, such as “chicken nuggets, cheeseburgers, and rectangular pizza slices were always on the menu, along with chocolate pudding, Jell-O, and sliced fruit drenched in syrup.”
Next: The classic 1980s food Karen prepares for Joyce
Also in the third episode of the first season, Joyce has just finished rigging up Christmas lights to communicate with Will when Karen comes stops by with a casserole. What kind? We don’t find out. But we do know casseroles were a big thing in the 1980s. Delish reports in the 1980s, foods you could call “easy family favorites” reigned supreme in American households. The publication specifically mentions popular 1980s examples, such as green bean casserole and tuna noodle casserole. We could imagine Mrs. Wheeler cooking up either one to take to her friend.
Next: The bar food Detective Hopper eats at The Hideaway
16. Nuts and pretzels
The only food to make an appearance in Season 1’s fourth episode? The bar food Detective Hopper snacks on at the Hideaway. Hopper is there to question the officer who found Will’s body. Hopper drinks whiskey, the officer drinks Schlitz beer, and they snack on nuts and pretzels at the bar — at least until things get violent outside. Wondering why Schlitz beer makes so many appearances on Stranger Things? The manufacturer was one of the biggest beer-makers in the world in the 1960s and 1970s. Then, it scrapped its classic formula in the early 1980s and became known for “cheap beer.”
Next: The childhood favorite Joyce remembers preparing for Will
17. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
It was just a matter of time before Stranger Things featured this childhood favorite. In Season 1’s fifth episode, Joyce has a flashback at Will’s funeral. In the flashback, she’s making Will a PB&J while he draws a picture of a wizard character, called “Will the Wise,” shooting fireballs to burn the “bad guys” to a crisp. Joyce uses WonderBread and Jif peanut butter to assemble the sandwich. The New Yorker reports Jif “has been the nation’s best-selling peanut butter for more than three decades,” perhaps partially thanks to the slogan it introduced in the 1970s: “Choosy mothers choose Jif.”
Next: The sweet snacks that disappoint Dustin at Will’s funeral
18. Doughnut holes and cookies
At Will’s funeral in Episode 5, attendees snack on a variety of sweets, including doughnut holes and cookies. The scene yielded some fans’ favorite quote. Picking up a cookie and thoughtfully chewing, Dustin announces, “Man, these aren’t real Nilla Wafers.” It’s possible the cookies in question just came from a store brand. Or they could have been sold under a generic brand, “a fad of the early 1980s.”
Next: The breakfast Mrs. Wheeler prepares while Nancy disappears with Jonathan
19. Pancakes, sausage, and grapes
In another breakfast scene at the Wheeler house, this time in the sixth episode of the first season, Karen serves Holly and Ted a breakfast of pancakes, sausage, and grapes. Visible on the table is a bottle of Mrs. Butterworth’s maple syrup, which was introduced in the early 1960s. A few minutes earlier, Karen told Nancy she’d made blueberry pancakes. (Too bad Nancy sneaks away with Jonathan as they try to figure out what’s happened to Barb and Will.) Holly’s seem to be plain pancakes, without blueberries. But Ted’s look like they have blueberries scattered over the top of them.
Next: The snack Mr. Clarke is eating with his date when Dustin calls
In Episode 7 of the first season of Stranger Things, Dustin calls Mr. Clarke to get instructions on how to build a sensory deprivation tank. Clarke is watching the 1982 movie The Thing with a date named Jen. The two had a big bowl of popcorn on the coffee table in front of them. (They might have made it in the microwave because microwave popcorn launched in the early 1980s.)
But Clarke still takes the time to talk Dustin through what they’ll need to build the sensory deprivation tank — which is what Eleven needs to figure out where Will is in the Upside Down.
Next: The classic childhood dessert Lucas and Dustin find in the cafeteria
21. Snack Pack chocolate pudding
While they’re hiding out at the school during the first season’s eighth episode, Lucas and Dustin head to the cafeteria to find food. They come upon a stash of milk cartons and Hunt’s Snack Pack chocolate puddings — and yell to Mike and Eleven about the discovery. But if you’ve been raised by a government agency, you might not know about chocolate pudding, which Mike describes to Eleven as “this chocolate goo you eat with a spoon.” The Dieline reports Stranger Things fans have been calling Hunt’s to have the retro packaging spotted in the show reinstated.
Next: The sweets Mrs. Wheeler prepares for Christmas
22. Christmas desserts
Once the action is over in the first season of Stranger Things, the show depicts everybody getting ready for Christmas. Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Will finish up a game of Dungeons & Dragons. Ted Wheeler is asleep in his armchair with a bowl of popcorn. Karen Wheeler is putting the finishing touches on an impressive array of cakes, pies, and cookies.
At the holiday party at the Hawkins Police Station, employees snack on more sweets, and Detective Hopper puts some food in a Tupperware. In a final Eggo-related scene, he leaves the Tupperware and a stack of Eggos in a storage box in the woods, fueling speculation about Eleven’s whereabouts.
Next: The canned food the Byers let their dog eat
Rounding out the first season’s impressive oeuvre of 1980s food references, the end of the eighth episode shows the Byers’ family dog feasting on what looks like a block of spam. This precooked meat first hit the market in the 1930s. By the 1960s, spam had become an ingredient used in sandwiches and even egg dishes, instead of a main protein source. And by the 1970s, people were using the term to describe any canned pork product.