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Watergate Salad

Updated on May 13, 2014

Try this fun fruit salad straight out of the 1970s

Pudding mix, canned pineapple, mini marshmallows ... my 12-year-old's eyes lit up when he saw the ingredients. "What's that gonna be?" he asked. "Watergate Salad," I said. "Salad?" he said. "Finally, a salad I might actually like."

The incredulous tone was spot-on. Calling this a salad is like calling ketchup a vegetable (hey wait, don't our public schools do that?). It really should be Watergate Fluff. Or Watergate Whip. Or maybe just Sweet Green Ambrosia.

Watergate Salad is a 1970s phenom, the cousin to my beloved Watergate Cake. My mom made both back in the day, and I decided this week to revisit both treats and see how they held up to a (more or less) grownup palate. Here's the "salad" recipe, and my results.

(photo: Mark Pellegrini via Wikimedia Commons ~ cropped for shape)

Have you ever had Watergate Salad?

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Watergate Salad

1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple, in juice, undrained

1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) pistachio instant pudding mix

1 cup mini marshmallows

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 1/2 cups Cool Whip (thawed)

Mix first 4 ingredients until well blended. Stir in Cool Whip. Refrigerate 1 hour.

adapted from

why "Watergate" Salad?

My mom's answer was always "it's full of nuts." But some say the "Watergate" desserts were inspired by Richard Nixon's fondness for pistachios.

Did you try this Watergate Salad recipe? How'd it turn out?

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so -- did it

live up to my

childhood memories?

Making the 2 "Watergate" dishes in one week, I have to say it was a split decision. The Watergate Cake was every bit as yummy as I remembered -- so yummy I could overlook the uber-processed ingredient list & bright green color. My husband & kids loved it, too.

But the salad .... hmm. I can manage a few bites, but then feel guilty about eating so much marshmallow. The texture is fun, but a little weird. My sons tasted a bit but didn't want much more.

Bottom line -- I think this dish would be fun for a '70s theme party or for St. Patrick's Day, when green food is always welcomed.

BUT ... it appears I'm in the distinct minority here. Watergate Salad has drawn more than 700 (!) reviews on, with an average rating of 5 stars out of 5. Everyone loves this stuff! Only I seem to be lukewarm on it. So hey, give it a whirl.

Sugar-blast from the past

Bobby Flay's pastry chef modernizes desserts from the '40s through '70s in this fun cookbook. Grasshopper pie, anyone?


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    • TransplantedSoul profile image

      TransplantedSoul 5 years ago

      Hmmm a salad the eavesdrops on you? Where do they put the microphone?

    • verymary profile image

      Mary 5 years ago from Chicago area

      @tvyps: me too! that ticked me off!

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I remember Watergate, it was all that was on television and I didn't see my cartoons!