The Fondue Fad Was A Scam, And We Ate It Up In The Cheesy '70s

By Kellar Ellsworth
Left: A fondue party in full swing, from a vintage Mazola margarine advertisement. Right: Fondue set packaging for sale on Etsy. Sources: Pinterest, Etsy

There's a fondue set, '60s or '70s vintage, in a frayed cardboard box, collecting dust in many an American attic or basement. And there's a reason for that. Fondue, fondue recipes, fondue parties, and fondue accessories made up a global trend engineered by a cheese cartel with some seriously canny marketing. Americans who wanted a taste of the Alps in their modest suburban kitchens were completely seduced by images of attractive European mountain folk dipping bread in molten cheese. Was fondue popular in Switzerland? Sort of, in a "our government says it's popular" way. Was it popular in the U.S.? Well, a hell of a lot of people bought fondue sets, and most used them at least once.