This study uses data from the 1977-78 Nationwide Food Consumption Survey (NFCS) to develop a classification scheme for differentiating individuals into groups that have similar patterns of food consumption. The article examines the nutritional adequacy of those food patterns and identifies the socioeconomic factors associated with each pattern. Cluster analysis is used to identify the food consumption patterns of a nationally representative sample of persons aged 65 through 74 years. The results indicate that the food patterns of older persons can be well categorized as light eaters, heavy eaters, or consumers of large amounts of alcoholic beverages, salty snack products, animal fat products, legumes, or sweets and desserts. Following those different food patterns leads to noteworthy differences in nutrient intakes. Ethnic group membership and residence status are found to be the most important socioeconomic factors associated with differences in the food patterns followed.