For those of us who think fondly of childhood, there was nothing wrong with snacks from the 1980s. But in reality, they weren't all that great - at least, nutritionally. Not everyone was privy to the dangers of high fructose corn syrup. And pretty much every 1980s snack contained a boatload of sugar. That likely explains why things tasted so delicious. It's now time to take a trip down memory lane.
We sometimes feel like snacks were better before the turn of the century. It might be because we're all a little bit nostalgic for our lost childhoods. The candy snacks we enjoyed when we were young form part of our most treasured youthful memories. They were treats for good behavior!
On the other hand, it might just be the case because snacks genuinely did taste better back then. There's probably a good reason for that. They tended to be packed full of sugar. Back then, people weren't so health conscious. The sugar content of those vintage snacks made dentists weep.
Hostess Pudding Pies
Were they a pudding? Were they a pie? Were they actually just Twinkies wearing a cunning disguise? We're not sure. All we know is that they were delicious. The chocolate and vanilla mix tasted so good that even a terrible marketing slogan couldn't dent their appeal.
These pies were sold under the motto "They make real pudding taste real special." We're not sure a modern marketing agency would sign off on that today. It doesn't even make any grammatical sense!
Triple Power Push Pops
All together now: "Don't push me, push a Push Pop." What could possibly be better than a Push Pop? That's an easy question to answer; a 'triple power' Push Pop beat the standard model every time.
The 1986 variant of the snack offered three different flavors at the same time. Looking back, we're not sure they ever tasted of anything other than concentrated sugar, but it was a nice sales gimmick. In our childish minds, three flavors at once was like a magic trick.
Hubba Bubba Soda
We all know how sweet Hubba Bubba gum is. Somehow, Hubba Bubba soda managed to be even sweeter. This drink should have come with a health warning. It's no wonder we were hyperactive all the time.
Unless we're talking champagne, drinks should never be pink. Hubba Bubba Soda was. That probably tells you all you need to know about how much damage the liquid was doing to your teeth when you drank it - not that it ever stopped any of us!
Dr. Pepper Gum
Hubba Bubba probably never had any business getting involved in the soda game. Dr. Pepper probably never had any business getting involved in the gum game. Perhaps one was a retaliation against the other for encroaching on their territory?
Whatever the reason for Dr. Pepper Gum coming into the world, it was a revelation. Somehow, in the center of the gum, there was a liquid core packed full of the distinctive taste of Dr. Pepper soda. Chewing it could be messy, but it was always fun.
Kids like ice cream. Kids would probably eat ice cream no matter what shape it came in. There was probably no need to make it in the shape of a human foot to convince people to buy it, but we're glad someone did it anyway. It was a memorable snack.
Funny Feet were a popular choice whenever an ice cream truck (remember them?) came to call in your neighborhood. They were bright pink, melted almost instantly, and ended up all over your sticky hands.
Not all the snacks we ate a few decades ago were bad from us. Some of them claimed to be the exact opposite - and became downright weird in the process. Who seriously thought that kids would be interested in low-fat bacon as a snack?
In some ways, this product was ahead of its time. If they brought it back now, where healthy alternatives to regular meat are all the rage, it would probably find a huge audience. Someone should give it a try.
Here's another one for the 'strangely shaped ice cream tally.' You might see a few of these as we move along the list. This time it's a frog, and it's fat. You can't take anything away from the product's name- they nailed it.
Green ice cream is weird enough to look at, but the Reece's Pieces that were used for the eyes make the frog look downright crazy. Maybe this is where the inspiration for the Crazy Frog came from?
Modern market research would probably prevent any product like this reaching the shelves in the 21st century. Who convinced the manufacturers that there was a market for this? What should we even call it?
Allegedly, it was a simple snack you could heat up, and it was suitable as a meal at any time of the day. On reflection, we think the best time of day to eat it was never. If it even had an audience, Hot Pockets soon came along and stole it.
As if proof were needed that children will go crazy for anything that comes in cute packaging, here's the Squeez-It. Each flavor of this drink came with a name, which made them a little bit like cartoon characters.
As we drank them, we tried not to think about the fact that we were basically killing the character and drinking its innards. Perhaps that horrifying image is why they were discontinued back in 2001, doomed never to return. It's amazing they made it through two entire decades.
Dixies Snack Crackers
Kids love crackers. Kids love chicken drumsticks. So why wouldn't kids like crackers coated in breadcrumbs, and shaped like chicken drumsticks? That was the theory behind Dixies Snack Crackers, which have to go down as one of the weirdest food ideas of all time.
There was no way this couldn't be disappointing. You bite into a chicken drumstick, and you get the taste of crackers instead. Why would anyone do this? It was like pranking yourself! Nobody was surprised when they quietly vanished from stores.
Minute Maid Fruit Juice
There are many different varieties of fruit juice. They're not hard to obtain, and you can even make your own if you're prepared to buy a lot of fresh fruit and put in a little effort to juice them. Either that or just buy a juicer.
What was it that made Minute Maid Fruit Juice so special, then? Why did kids go crazy for it? It's the obvious answer; their fruit juice was full to the brim with crazy doses of sugar. There's no way this was good for you!
Micro Magic Milkshakes
To understand why these were so popular, you have to understand that microwaves seemed like witchcraft in the 1980s. They were still a new idea, not everyone had one, and they made heating food a quick and easy process. Microwaves were cool, and so was microwaveable food.
Some foods should never go in a microwave, though, and milkshakes have to be pretty close to the top of that list. Milkshakes should be cold. This was a product of its era, and it wasn't a good one!
The makers of Five Alive certainly weren't going to be left behind in the fruit juice wars. They had their own unique selling point. Instead of selling just one type of fruit juice at a time, why not combine five at once inside the same drink?
The logical answer to that question would be "because it's an outright attack on the senses, and they're not all supposed to go together," but logic didn't get a look-in on this argument.
Care Bear Waffles
Care Bears were everywhere in the 1980s, so this was just a case of taking something that was already popular and turning it into a snack. It's a classic marketing ploy, and it's been used successfully many times before and since.
What nobody took into account is that the process of turning a Care Bear into a waffle shape made them look like the stuff of nightmares. Part of the reason we ate them so fast is that we didn't want to look at them.
Smurf-Berry Crunch Cereal
On the topic of popular children's shows being used to market snacks, here's Smurf-Berry Crunch Cereal. We feel like they missed a trick by not making the cereal blue, but perhaps even children couldn't be tempted by blue cereal.
As was the standard for many cereals of the era, there was a free gift inside every pack. Smurf-Berry Crunch Cereal came with shiny stickers, which inevitably ended up all over your bedroom wall, your lunchbox, and your face.
Quisp Cereal was incredibly sweet and sugary, so would it surprise you if we told you that it was made by the same people who made Quaker Oats? We suspect that all the sugar that gets extracted during the process of making Quaker Oats ended up in these snacks instead.
Even if they were a little sugary, there's no denying that Quisp Cereal was fantastic. We certainly never got bored of it for breakfast. Recently, it's even been resurrected as a brand. That's right - Quisp Cereal is back!
When does fruit look at its most appealing to you? If your answer is "when it's freshly picked, ripe, and ready to eat," you're just like the majority of people. If your answer is "when it's withered, dying, and ready for the trash," you'd probably have loved Fruit Wrinkles.
Why anyone would deliberately make a snack that looks like old, wrinkled fruit is beyond us, but we'll try anything once. Unfortunately for Fruit Wrinkles, we never tried it again - and nor did anyone else.
Jolly Rancher Fire Stix
Jolly Ranchers are great. They're a bonafide candy classic. You loved them, your parents loved them, and your grandparents probably loved them too. Their formula didn't need to be toyed with. Jolly Rancher Fire Stix never needed to happen.
The idea of a candy that would make a child cry is evil, and these always did. The more you sucked, the hotter they got. Even if you could cope with the heat, they eventually got so sharp they stabbed your tongue. Why did Jolly Rancher do this to us?
Bacon Cheddar Cheetos
Hot take: There was nothing wrong with Bacon Cheddar Cheetos. Bacon and cheese is a taste combination that works every time. We know that Cheetos are supposed to taste of cheese, though, and we suppose that's why this bacon experiment failed.
In all honesty, the commercials probably didn't help the product's chances of success. For some reason, the sight of a vaguely creepy guy with a mustache shaking a packet at us didn't send us all running to the stores to buy them.
Oreo Big Stuf
We have only two questions about Oreo Big Stuf, and they go like this. Firstly, why didn't they work? Secondly, can we have them back, please? It was basically half a packet of Oreos, but compressed into one gigantic cookie. It's a model of Oreo efficiency.
Oreo Big Stuf was taken out of circulation in 1991, amid concerns that it was just too bad for kids to allow it to carry on. Not only did each cookie contain 316 calories, it was said that a single one took twenty minutes to eat.
Nintendo Cereal System
Back in the 1980s, it felt like there wasn't a single thing that was safe from Nintendo. The rapidly-rising gaming company was everywhere, and so were the stars of their video games. They even found their way into breakfast cereal.
Allegedly, half of the cereal tasted of fruit, and the other half tasted of berries. The fact that berries are fruit seemed to pass everyone by, but at least it provided an excuse for both Mario and Zelda to be on the packaging.
Keebler Magic Middles
Versions of this snack still exist in the present day, but they're a pale imitation of what we once had during the 1980s. A Keebler Magic Middle contained all the best things about shortbread, paired up with almost-liquid peanut butter and chocolate.
Yes, they went everywhere. Yes, your parents hated them because they ended up all over your hands and clothes. We're adults now; we feel like we could make a better go of eating them. Put them back the way they used to be!
Making a snack that's based around dunking isn't an original idea. The British have been dunking biscuits in their tea for centuries. We can't put our fingers on why Dunk-a-roos were the masters of the dipping and dunking game, but we're positive that they were.
We all still remember the agony of running out of dip before we ran out of cookies, and it's a pain that Canadians still know today. For some reason, it's only the USA that has stopped selling them. They're still available everywhere else!
Keebler Tato Skins
This is another product that was ahead of its time. Even upmarket restaurants often feature potato skins on their menu these days. It was less of a common concept when Keebler tried to push them on us as a snack in the mid-1980s.
On reflection, we don't think they quite got the idea right. They're advertised as potato skins, but the end product is more like a mutated potato chip - and who wants a mutated potato chip? Nobody, as it turned out.
Yoplait Trix Yogurt
Multicolored yogurt sounds like it should be an abomination. It even looks like it should be an abomination. Despite that, it was one of our favorite lunchbox treats.
Allegedly flavored like Trix cereal, the gungy quality of these yogurts meant they were perfect to be used as slime weapons against your friends if you didn't feel like eating them. It's no wonder our parents were never keen on buying them for us. Some specialist stores still stock them today if you care to indulge!
If Lunchables were famous for anything, it was not quite being what they claimed to be. Take the pizza-flavor variant, for example. It was actually just a cracker with some cheese and some dry pepperoni. It tasted good, but a pizza it wasn't.
Kids found Lunchables exciting because it was like making your own lunch, DIY style. All you had to do was put all the ingredients together, and you were preparing meals like a proper grown-up. They're still around today, although they've become a little more complex.
Mickey's Magix Cereal
Earlier on, we said that the Smurf cereal wasn't blue because kids would never eat a blue cereal. We now have to apologize to the Smurfs. It turns out kids will eat a blue cereal after all, but only if it has the marketing machine of Disney behind it.
It was actually just the milk that turned blue when you poured Mickey's cereal into your bowl, and that apparently constituted a magic trick. We suppose the real magic was persuading us to eat it.
Until PB Crisps came along, we found it difficult to imagine a way to improve peanut butter. Peanut butter has survived, unchanged, for decades. It's as perfect a creation as you could ever hope to encounter - and yet it tasted better inside PB Crisps.
The theory behind PB Crisps was simple. Take a cookie, shape it like a peanut, and fill the shell full of peanut butter. It was savory and sweet at the same time. Our only complaint is that it briefly made us think real peanuts tasted like this, too.
Yogos were also available as 'Yogos Bits,' but we can't remember any difference between the products, and nor can we find anything online that would explain it. For that reason, we're counting them as one and the same thing!
So many childhood favorites came together in Yogos. The outer shell was made of delicious yogurt. The inside was a candy jelly. They were so good we used to rip open the packet and pour the whole contents straight into our mouths - and then we were instantly sad that we had none left.
Who remembers Shark Bites? Who has only just realized that Shark Bites and Gummi Bears weren't one and the same thing? The whole reason that this snack wasn't more memorable is that it looked so much like something that already existed.
Even looking at the picture, we can't see anything sharkish about the candy. The shape of the product on the packaging doesn't seem to resemble the shape of what you got inside it. Is there any way to be sure they weren't just Gummi Bears after all?
For a brief while during the 1990s, it became the done thing to release a whole range of confectionery items to support the latest big movie. Kids movies were particularly certain to get an edible range of tie-ins, and 'Bugz' was one of the most successful children's movies of the whole decade.
We're not totally sure that Bug Pops were an officially licensed product of the film. If they weren't, it might explain why they didn't stick around for long. The type of people who make multi-million-dollar films aren't shy about slapping lawsuits down for copyright infringement.
This product probably ended up with the name 'Gobblestix' because 'turkey hot dogs' didn't roll off the tongue quite as well. The fact that it's an excellent turkey-based pun was just a bonus.
Hot dog sausages are a strange invention. They don't taste anything like as good as real sausages, but people snap them up as fast food anyway. The use of other meats as hot dogs has always struggled to catch on as an idea, and Gobblestix was just one of many snacks that tried and failed.
Pop Qwiz Popcorn
We just credited Gobblestix with some excellent pun work, but the makers of this snack food did even better. The play on words based around 'pop quiz' is extremely clever. We could have done without the zany misspelling, but it is what it is.
The flipside of this being a great pun is that it was a lousy idea for a snack. You didn't know what flavor of popcorn you'd bought until you popped it open and ate it - that was the 'quiz' aspect of the name.
We've already included Lunchables in our list, so we gave careful consideration as to whether so-called 'Dessert Lunchables' were really different enough to merit their own entry. Ultimately, we've decided they were.
The idea of allowing a child to make their own sandwich from a limited number of ingredients is kind of cute. The idea of allowing them to make their own dessert is insane. How many people just ate the frosting and ignored everything else? We know we did!
Something about eating Muncheros made us feel sophisticated. We don't quite know what it was. As adults, we're well aware that they were just another cleverly-packaged variety of chips, but they were different to a child's eyes.
Maybe it was all down to the flavors. We weren't used to anything as exotic as lime and chili flavored chips back then. As far as we were concerned, these were the chips that our parents ate at dinner parties.
You can use a cute cartoon to sell anything to a child (or the adult buying on behalf of that child), and so confectionery companies inevitably do. There are few characters as beloved as Tigger from 'Winnie The Pooh,' and so these ice-cream snacks were can't-miss hits.
It was a simple enough recipe - just make a striped popsicle, and convince children that it was Tigger's tail. It didn't even matter that the colors weren't quite right - we all still fell for the trick.
Color Changing Cheetos
Let's welcome Cheetos to the list for the second time. They'll always be one of our favorite snacks, and because of that, we forgive them for the errors they've made over the years. Making Cheetos that change the color of your tongue ranks pretty highly on that list.
We loved this as kids. We'd go and play out during a break at school, and we'd all come back to class with green or blue tongues. Now, all we can do is wonder what they put in the Cheetos to make that happen.
Under Cover Bears
From the same school of thought that brought us 'Lucky Charms,' here are the Under Cover Bears. Apparently, they hung around inside your cereal box, trying to solve crimes. We suspect they never cracked a single case.
Any cereal that contains candy Is going to fall foul of people who wanted healthy morning meals for their kids, but kids don't care about that. If you could persuade your parents to buy some of these, you were always very happy about it.
Nesquik Push Ups
This was some next-level thinking from Nestle. They already knew they had kids hooked on sugary cereals, but they wanted those same kids to be able to eat those cereals on the move, and therefore buy more. There was only one way to achieve it.
Nesquik Push Ups did away with the bowl and the milk, and more or less put a blended version of the cereal into a tube. One brief stay in a freezer later, and you had ice cream. The sugar content was off the charts.
Buzz Blasts Cereal
As a rough rule of thumb, the more unnatural the color of a snack is, the less healthy it is. Achieving an unusual shade usually involves dyes, coloring, or additives. In the case of Buzz Blasts Cereal, we have a nasty suspicion it involved all three.
We all went crazy for 'Toy Story' in the 1990s, and Buzz Lightyear was the most popular toy at Christmas the year the film was released. We spent most of that year eating his cereal, and taking our sugar levels to infinity and beyond.
A significant mistake has been made here. What the makers of Doritos failed to understand about their customers is that we all love to dip Doritos into a dressing of our choosing. That dressing may, ultimately, be guacamole - but we still want the freedom to choose!
Even though this idea bombed in the 90s, it could work again now. There's a picture of an avocado on the packaging. That alone should be enough to see it flying off the shelves with some demographics.
Soup is a divisive meal for kids. Some absolutely love it, and some hate it. The idea of a liquid with things floating in it is fine for breakfast, but as a hot meal, it's enough to drive some youngsters to despair.
Lipton's idea to endear soup to children was an interesting one. If there had to be something floating in the bowl, why not make it alligator-shaped? It didn't work - a noodle shaped like an alligator is still a noodle, and the kids weren't buying it.
Pocahontas Ice Cream Cups
Were these ice cream snacks inspired by the McFlurry at McDonald's, or did the world's largest fast food company steal an idea from Disney? Both the McFlurry and the Pocahontas Ice Cream Cup launched in 1995, so it's impossible to say.
Whether or not this debate ended up in court, customers were the real winners. Pocahontas ice cream cups were amazing for the same reason a McFlurry is amazing - it's soft ice cream with candy woven into it. What's not to love?
McDonald's Happy Meal Cookies
While we're talking about McDonald's, we should talk about where Happy Meals started. The kids of today don't know how good they have it. The toy that comes with their meal is probably worth at least the price of the meal.
Back when we were young, if you ordered a Happy Meal, you got a cookie. No toy, nothing to play with, just a cookie shaped like one of the McDonald's Happy Meal gang. And we were expected to be happy about it, too!
Ninja Turtles Ice Cream Bars
We're back to green ice cream again, but no amount of unnatural colors would ever have been able to put an enthusiastic 80s kid off the idea of buying a 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' toy. These sewer-dwelling reptiles were huge in the early 90s, and everything bearing their likeness flew off the shelves.
As if these ice cream bars didn't look unhealthy enough, they had gumballs for eyes. The result of that was that it made the turtle look like it was dead, but given that you were eating it, it hardly mattered.
We can't excuse the misspelling of 'waffles' in the name of these snacks. Presumably, Kellogg's didn't think 'waffle' sounded marketable or cool enough for kids, whereas 'Eggo' apparently worked just fine.
The shocking spelling was always forgiven, though, because the concept was so great. They tasted just like a big, juicy jelly sandwich with waffles where the bread ought to be - and everyone knows waffles are more fun to eat than plain old bread! Where did these go, and why didn't they come back?
Pillsbury Waffle Sticks
Considering how basic and plain a waffle is, it's amazing how many different ways that the marketing and snack industry minds of the 80s and 90s found to dress them up. Here's Pillsbury with another great idea.
All they've done is shrink down the waffle so it's roughly the shape of a stick, and given us something to dip it in. We could have done that at home by cutting up the waffle and filling up a bowl of dip, but we just bought these instead!
Mother's Dinosaur Grrrahams
Even though the most recent 'Jurassic Park' movies have been box office smashes, they're not even close to being successful on the same scale as the 90s original. It was the biggest movie of all time when it came out, and everyone wanted to get in on the dinosaur gig. Even safe, traditional companies like Mother's.
All these snacks were, in practice, were cookies cut into dinosaur shapes. They didn't even come in special flavors - although they had a few extra 'r's added to 'Grrrahams' as if they were snarling at you.
Mr. Bones Puzzle Candy
It's candy, and it's also a puzzle! You could possibly persuade your parents to buy it for you under the pretense that somehow solving the puzzle made it educational food! OK, that might have been a stretch, but we're sure some people reading this gave it a try.
Solving the puzzle was never a real hardship, but that was never the point. Most of us just ate the candy without even trying. Still, the cute little coffin that it came in was kind of cool.
We could have had a real pizza at any time. Our parents almost certainly weren't withholding pizza from us. Despite that, for reasons we can't explain, we always asked for Ellio's Pizza instead.
Why Ellio's Pizza was so popular is a mystery lost to time. It came in dull flavors. There was seemingly no way of cooking it without burning it. You only got a single slice, and it was square. Those things didn't matter - nothing ever tasted better.
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