TikTok Discovers The Magic Of Watergate Salad

Users on TikTok are now rejoicing in that sweet green Midwestern ambrosia.

Ah, Watergate salad, also known affectionately around our stomping grounds as Green Stuff. It's that funny side salad made of pistachio-flavored pudding, canned pineapple, marshmallows, and whipped topping (not whipped cream—usually Cool Whip). Crushed pecans are optional but not required. Retro bliss.

I'm used to seeing Watergate salad on occasion at Midwestern potlucks and backyard barbecues, so I don't bat an eye at it. It's really sweet—some people eat it as dessert—and it never quite seems to mesh with the potato salad sitting next to it. Still, I have a weirdly deep-seated affection for it, and it's so normal to me that it's not a dish I think of actively. However, one very large audience has now discovered Watergate salad, and as The New York Times reports, they're all over it. Yes, TikTok has a new obsession.

Watergate salad has gone viral on TikTok

A seemingly innocuous video posted on November 16 depicting an office potluck has gone viral on TikTok, and when I say viral, I mean, as of this moment, it has racked up 2.6 million views. The video features what every employee brought to the potluck table; the array of food is stunning, and the workers' enthusiasm is adorable. However, some commenters have fixated on the dish that user @kellyann2339 brought: Watergate salad.


One user responded, "kelly what on earth is Watergate salad," sparking over 1,000 replies. Many people expressed that they didn't know what Watergate salad was, and that they'd never had it, while those familiar with the dish said that they'd eaten it but under slightly different names like "pistachio salad" or "ambrosia." (Though I'm going to be that guy and note that ambrosia salad is its own thing.)

The stuff's been around for roughly 50 years now, and The New York Times notes two possible theories as to how its name came about. One is that a chef created it at the Watergate Hotel (yes, that Watergate Hotel), but employees at the hotel haven't found any evidence that this is true.

The more likely scenario is that, since the salad became popular around the time the Watergate scandal broke in 1972, the name somehow became associated with the dish, which is a wild reason for its naming origins, but okay!


Video responses to the salad's resurgence have been mixed. User @jordan_the_stallion8 can't quite tell whether or not Watergate salad sounds good, though after rattling off its ingredients, he says, "if you want to call the police, I also understand."

User @soogia1 decided to try making the salad for herself, and after tasting it for the first time, she said: "The flavor I like. Sweet, tastes like dessert. But when it sits, the pecans lose the crunchy texture, which is what I liked about it the other night, when it was freshly made. I like it! It's good! But what do you eat it with?"

And honestly, as someone who's had Watergate salad plenty of times, I'm... not actually sure how to answer that question. I'm not convinced anyone else has a definitive answer to that query, either. Just marvel over the fact that it's the odd man out on the potluck table, put it on your plate, and internally debate when you should eat it during your meal or wait and eat it as dessert. And if you can't quite decipher whether you actually like it, don't worry—nobody ever seems to be quite sure.