No matter what else is going on in our lives, we all still need to eat and the most fun things to eat are snack foods. Trends come and go as different flavors and flavor combinations hit the market and either stick around like “Cool Ranch” or disappear.
At the time, we thought some of these snacks would never be seen again, but over the years, some of them have resurfaced. Sometimes they return on a seasonal basis like Cadbury Creme Eggs in the spring and pumpkin spice flavored everything and Monster Cereals in the fall. Others are tie-ins with popular media. (We’re waiting for that Ecto-Cooler before the next Ghostbusters, Hi-C!)
Here are 10 snack memories from the ’80s and ’90s…
1. Suddenly S’mores
These were delicious but more importantly, they were quick and easy. You could put one of these in the microwave and get a yummy melty marshmallow chocolate treat over a commercial break and then go back to watching your favorite show.
2. Fruit Roll Ups
Fruit Roll-Ups came in just about every fruit flavor you could imagine. Strawberry, grape, cherry, and my personal favorite: apricot.
The last time I saw the specific apricot flavor was in the mid to late 1980’s. I was visiting my grandparents and they were in a close-out store up there. We bought a couple boxes of the apricot to take back in the car with us. I think the more popular flavors were in stores for a while longer, but I never saw the apricot ones again.
3. Pudding Roll-ups
There was something about convenience foods in the middle to late 1980’s that seemed to be focused on preventing messes in our lunch sacks. Instead of fruit or pudding that could fall off a spoon and stain clothing, Pudding Roll-Ups were solidified and mess free.
Another issue with convenience pudding was that the cans usually had sharp edges that could cut our small fingers. Eventually the food companies moved to plastic cups with plastic lids. The plastic cups were better for preventing children from severe injury but not so great for the environment.
This was the complete package: great commercial (just try to keep from singing that catchy Blondie or Waitresses style jingle) and a delicious sweet and slightly salty candy bar. Chocolate, caramel, crispy rice, and great peanut taste. The description of the bar is embedded in the jingle lyrics along with images of the bar. The animation in the commercial is pop art style in comic book panels.
Walmart still has six bar packs of Watchamacallits in their regular (non-seasonal) candy aisle. Every few months, I’ll buy a pack of bars at Walmart and keep the bars in the refrigerator. I just have to remember to let the bar sit out at room temperature for a few minutes or they’re a little too hard to bite into.
If you’ve ever had a Suzy Q, you’re familiar with the basic idea. Choco Bliss were smaller than thee Suzy Q and filled with chocolate cream. Each cake had chocolate icing and chocolate sprinkles and there were two to an individual package. Anytime you want to bring these back, Hostess, I will be ready to give you my money. You don’t even have to put two in a package. One would be enough now.
6. Idaho Russets
Even though I usually prefer sweet snacks, I do enjoy chips with my sandwiches. My favorite parts of the chip are the ones that are a little darker. They tend to be crispier than the rest of the chips and they have a slightly “burnt” taste. In regular chip bags, you might get a couple of chips like that, but in Idaho Russet bags, all of the chips have that taste.
I babysat for a family from our church and the father worked for Colonial bread. Colonial bread was owned by Anheuser-Busch, who also owned Eagle Snacks. Instead of candy, Mr. Bob gave out snack size bags of Eagle Idaho Russet chips for Halloween.
These days, there are several brands that offer “Kettle” style potato chips that satisfy my taste for this kind of chip. One of the best is Cape Cod’s Dark Russet. I had so much fun watching Mickey and his daughter, J.J. doing a taste testing video for the Cape Cod Russet chips. When Mickey compared them to the Eagle chips, the memories came rushing back.
7. Jell-O Pudding Pops
Pudding day was as big a deal as bacon day at our house. To have pudding, we would have to have enough milk in the house. Unless we had Jell-O Pudding Pops. Then we could have delicious frozen pudding on a stick for dessert. My favorites were the chocolate vanilla swirl and the banana versions.
8. Magic Middles
I remember there being two varieties of these we would buy: one was a chocolate chip cookie with a chocolate fudge filling and the other was more of a plain butter cookie with the same chocolate fudge filling. Pepperidge Farm had a filled Milano recently that was a pretty decent facsimile.
9. Mauna Lai
This one is kind of weird because I don’t remember what prompted me to try it. I think it may have been what Bob Ross would call a “happy accident”. Either I pressed the wrong button or another drink was sold out. For whatever reason I tried Mauna Lai, I ended up loving it.
10. Nestle Alpine White
What Whatchamacallit was to the 1980’s, Nestle’s Alpine White was to the 1990’s. With a jingle straight off the Pure Moods compilation album and models dressed like Winter Wonderland Barbie and Ken, this is a candy bar commercial and meditation in one. Next time you’re stressed, take a few seconds to watch or remember it and see how you feel. It’s surprisingly comforting. Maybe it’s all the people in sweaters.
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