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The 10 Best Food (& Drink) Moments from Mad Men

April  3, 2015

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the end of an era. On Sunday night, AMC premieres the last seven episodes of Mad Men—ever. We’ll finally see if Don Draper’s past will get the best of him, if Peggy Olson will find happiness both in and out of the office, and if Sally Draper will turn into Betty Jr. Get your Manhattans and Life cereal ready—we’re counting down our top ten food (and drink, duh) moments from the show’s seven seasons. 

10. Betty Draper and the ice cream sundaes. 
Poor Betty. She may not be the most pleasant character on the show (is there a pleasant character on the show?), but watching her suffer in season six was particularly sad: Unexpected weight gain, loss of sense of self, drifting from Sally, and leaving the honeymoon phase with hubby number two. When no one’s looking, Betty rushes to demolish both her and Sally’s ice cream posthaste so no one will catch her cheating on her Weight Watchers diet. 

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9. Megan Draper doesn’t like orange sherbet.
Things are beginning to unravel between Don and his former secretary-cum-wife, Megan, but, when offered the VIP treatment at a Howard Johnson in upstate New York, the newlyweds hop in a car and escape the bright lights and big city. After trying a little bit of everything at the hotel restaurant, Don orders a parfait glass filled with orange sherbert, in hopes of sharing it with Megan. Suffice it to say, it was not a sweet ending.

8. Pete Campbell’s Chip n Dip
Oh, Pete Campbell, the man whose self-confidence is as waning as his hairline. After marrying Trudy, he shows off his newest wedding gift to the men in Sterling Cooper offices—a ceramic vessel with a tomato bowl for dip and two lettuce leaves for chips–only to be scoffed at and ridiculed. So, like any man concerned with his image, Pete goes to great lengths to cover up his “moment of weakness” and runs to the department store to exchange it for a gun, claiming to the salesgirl they received two of the dinner party serving pieces. 

7. Roger Sterling’s tragic lunch
Roger Sterling is a man of his era—often found with a stiff drink in hand, schmoozing a gorgeous young woman, or trying the latest trendy hallucinogenic drugs. In season one, after a “working lunch” of round after round of stiff Martinis and raw oysters on the half shell, Roger and Don return to work for a very important client meeting only to discover the elevators in their high-rise building are out. They schlep up the 23 flights of stairs—Don hardly breaking a sweat and Roger getting red in the face and drenched. As Roger tries to greet their VIP guests, instead he vomits all over the carpet. 

6. Growing up Draper-Francis
By the time Henry Francis comes into her life, Sally isn’t a little girl anymore. At the first Thanksgiving celebration with her mother’s new beau, Sally’s true colors begin to show. She is stubborn, obstinate, and determined to make her mother’s life difficult. When presented with a sweet potato casserole with mini marshmallows on top, Sally refuses to take a bite. Betty insists and force feeds her child, only to have Sally grimace and spit the half-eaten starch out on her plate. This is only the first inclination of what’s to come for this mother-daughter duo. 

5. Sally and Megan get coffee
As Sally drifts from both her father and mother (for very different reasons), she becomes increasingly enamoured with Megan Draper. The two lovely ladies spend a day together along with Megan’s chatty wannabe actress gal pal, gallivanting and eventually sitting down at a coffee shop for a drink and a bite to eat. Sally, who is just entering her teen years, yearns to be beautiful and “cool” like Megan and proceeds to pour about 1/2 cup of sugar into her coffee to make it palatable to her young taste buds. Sally Draper, you sure have grown from the little girl with a plastic bag over her head. 

4. Pass the Heinz
In season six, Peggy Olson has branched out beyond Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (SCDP) and is now a high-powered copy chief at Cutler Gleason Chaough. Her storyline appears to be completely separate from that of the Mad Men characters we’ve come to know, until she bumps into ex-SCDP colleagues while pitching Heinz Ketchup. To say things are awkward would be a major understatement, but it’s wonderful to see Peggy shine now that she is out of the shadow of Don Draper. 

3. Don’s Hershey’s pitch goes horribly wrong 
Sometimes alcohol acts as a truth serum, and, at the end of season six, Don comes in to deliver his Hershey’s pitch—completely tanked. Draper begins his spiel like all others, charming the chocolate bar execs and relating their product back to his (fictionalized) childhood. Suddenly, something snaps in Don and he comes clean about his less-than-idyllic childhood. His coworkers and potential clients look on in shock. 


2. Burger Chef ending 
Peggy Olson has probably grown more than any other character in the Mad Men world. At the beginning she was just Don Draper’s sheepish, mousy, and green receptionist. By season seven, however, she is one of the most powerful players in the advertising firm and working very closely with Don to win Burger Chef as an account. The two spend a night working long and hard on their pitch, perfecting it so Don can swoop in and score the goal. To Peggy’s surprise, however, Don steps back and allows Peggy to deliver the copy and concept she invented to the clients. And, low and behold, the teacher has become the master. Once the deed is done, Peggy, Pete, and Don share a meal at the fast food chain and, finally, appear to be on a more level playing field. 

1. Betty’s “Around the World” dinner party 
At the beginning of the show’s run, Betty Draper loved to play Suzy Homemaker for her husband. When Don invites a crew of co-workers over for dinner, Betty Draper take a page from the Betty Crocker Hostess Cookbook and puts together a hodge podge of food from around the world. Gazpacho, bordeaux, lamb with mint jelly, and German noodles all make appearances—as random as that may seem. 

Which food moments in Mad Men’s seven years stand out to you?

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Anne
  • Marcia Kellogg
    Marcia Kellogg

Written by: C


Anne June 25, 2019
I've been rewatching Mad Men recently and what has really stood out to me are the number of occasions that chicken salad and/or crackers were served for dinner.
Marcia K. April 7, 2015
The Steak and Cake dinner that Betty prepared for Don and Roger, the lazy Sunday afternoon Betty and Don spent drinking Bloody Mary's, and the Beef Bourguignon dinner Megan prepared for Don in their NYC apartment. I wrote a similar post on my blog titled: How the Women of Mad Men Really Feel about Cooking. check out the June 2012 post at