For those of us who remember a simpler time, a time dominated by baggy pants, oversize flannels and some seriously amazing hip-hop, nostalgia for the best decades ever—a.k.a. the 1990s and early 2000s—rules hard. One of the best things about growing up during that time was the junk food: in an age before “organic” and “farm-raised” became the “it” terms, kids were slurping down artificial colors and flavorings like there was no tomorrow. And their parents were okay with it. Here are the 32 foods we miss the most.
Damn, yogurt is SO INCONVENIENT to eat. I wish someone would appeal to my sheer laziness and just create a plastic tube that I could squeeze directly into my mouth like the sloth that I am...oh wait! Thanks, Yoplait!
Fruit Stripe Gum
Fruit Stripe’s “Five-Flavored,” striped gum sticks were juicy and full-flavored, but lost their taste after about five (admittedly glorious) seconds. The gum was immortalized on the Beastie Boys’ 1989 track “B-Boy Bouillabaisse”: “Girl you should be with me, you should drop that bum / ‘Cause I got more flavor than Fruit Stripe gum!”
Fun fact about the Spain-born lollipops in addictive flavors like strawberry cream and vanilla-chocolate: artist Salvador Dali designed the bright yellow-and-red logo. Luckily, these yummy candies are still on the market.
Red ketchup is cool and all, but who wouldn’t want to get cray with green, purple, pink, teal and blue ketchup? Answer: Most people, as the funky condiment was discontinued just a few years later.
Waffle Crisp Cereal
“Whoa! It’s a whole secret granny factory!” a pair of buddies finds out in the classic 1996 commercial for the addictively crisp, sugary breakfast cereal. The commercial features a whole brigade of grandmas cooking up tiny waffles on miniature waffle irons, then christening each one with a single drop of maple syrup. Get out of my brain, will you, Post Cereals?!
Introduced in the '90s, 3D Doritos were basically just Bugles, which already existed, and the conical chips were therefore discontinued.
The original cereal tie-in to a TV show or movie and thus a pioneer in the field, Fruity Pebbles was a companion product to the Flintstones cartoon series. The best part of eating these was slurping up the fruit-flavored milk left over at the end.
The “Ice Cream of the Future,” flash-frozen Dippin’ Dots were introduced in 1992 to the delight of theme park–attending children everywhere. The delight of eating the tiny, colorful dots almost makes you forget that the flavor isn’t nearly as good as that of traditional ice cream.
These fruit gummy candies in the shape of a shark came in individual packets containing a bunch of translucent sharks as well as (hopefully!) a solid-white, mystery-flavored shark, which was in demand during lunchtime trades. For a while, the candy even came in a rare orange-and-white-striped tiger shark variety, which was even more frenziedly anticipated.
Little Hugs a.k.a. "quarter waters"
Tiny individual plastic barrels of kaleidoscopic sugar water sealed with a foil lid, “quarter waters” indeed once cost just 25 cents and are actually a brand-name drink called Little Hugs. Maybe we’ll revive the childhood trend this summer, blasting Jay Z’s anthem “On to the Next One”: “Drinkin’ quarter waters, I gotta be the best.”
Instead of crafting an actual candy, the makers of Pixy Stix just dumped flavored sugar into a paper straw and called it a day. Miraculously, the product caught on. Remember how everyone always dared each other to snort it, but no one actually did?
A close cousin of Pixy Stix, Fun Dip added even more sugar to the equation, facilitating the the consumption of the tart, sugary powder with a sweeter, lickable stick of—you guessed it—pure sugar!
Rice Crispy Treats Cereal
In 1993, General Mills had the downright brilliant idea to turn Rice Krispies Treats—formerly a homemade treat that showed up at every single grade-school bake sale—into a cereal, launching the little nuggets that were to be doused in milk and enjoyed at breakfast to the delightful sound of "Snap, Crackle and Pop!" This was a precursor to individually wrapped Rice Krispies Treats, which debuted a couple of years later.
These tangy, chewy, taffy-like candy strips were a playground staple. Common eating etiquette called for slapping the package against one’s hand repeatedly, forcing all the air out of the candy and resulting in a single, Tootsie Roll-like nugget.
Anyone around during the sizzling/exploding candy’s heyday will remember the persistent and completely ridiculous rumor that “Little Mikey” of Life cereal died after ingesting a stomach-exploding combo of Pop Rocks and Coke. The rumor that this combination was lethal was so persistent that the TV show MythBusters featured an episode on disproving it. As for actor John Gilchrist—a.k.a. Little Mikey—he’s still alive and well.
Fruit by the Foot
Pretty much just a Fruit Roll-Up delivered in narrow, rolled-up snail form, Fruit by the Foot offered so many delights: peeling up the different sections, which were divided into three parts; pretending the candy was a moustache/beard/wig; and, finally, reading the jokes and comics printed on the backing paper.
This orange-flavored fruit punch really hit its stride post-1987, when Ecto-Cooler, featuring the Real Ghostbusters character, Slimer, was created as a product tie-in with the cartoon series based on the 1984 Bill Murray classic. Ecto-Cooler was discontinued in 1997, and we’re still mourning its loss.
It was a lollipop housed in a capped plastic tube, which you pushed up to eat. Genius. The lollipop’s slogan was “Push a Push Pop, save some for later,” but we’re guessing no kid ever saved candy for later.
In 1992, Frito-Lay introduced a spicy version of its cheesy crunchy corn snack. Apart from their spiciness, their most salient quality was their unnatural, bright red hue, making it even more difficult to conceal their consumption than ordinary orange Cheetos.
Available in Tropical, Berryclear and Aruba Jam(?), these fruit-flavored Sprites kicked our favorite lemon-lime soda up to new levels of deliciousness. RIP, Sprite Remix.
No one living in the ‘90s with access to a TV could ever forget Bagel Bites’ earworm of a jingle: “Pizza in the morning, pizza in the evening, pizza at suppertime.” You know the rest. How good were Bites? They were...ok. But with a jingle like this, who cares how they taste?
Launched by Coca-Cola in 1997 to compete with Pepsi’s high-caffeine, high-sugar Mountain Dew—internally, the soda was named “MDK,” or “Mountain Dew Killer”—Surge was marketed as having a more “hard-core” edge than other sodas. The company advertised the fact mainly by featuring black and Latino kids in its commercials…? OK, guys.
The true badass of the playground wouldn’t be caught dead sucking on a Ring Pop or downing a sissy bag of Gushers, but instead opted for a redonkulously sour handful of Warheads. The candy proved so popular that the company now markets a Warheads liquid spray—the Binaca of the jungle gym set, if you will.
Children looking for a good chew in the ‘90s had many, many compelling gum options to choose from, but Bubble Tape was definitely the most desirable. After all, it came in that totally rad bright-pink dispenser, and even though it only kept its flavor for about three and a half seconds, there was so much of it!
What child on earth doesn’t longingly recall the soggy-yet-wonderful taste of Cookie Crisp cereal? These were tiny chocolate chip cookies in milk that somehow passed muster as breakfast, people. Praise be the glories of capitalism!
The ultimate combination of form and functionality? We think so—after all, what’s the point of wearing a piece of jewelry that you can’t eat? See also: candy necklaces.
A trend among ‘90s junk foods appeared to be ordinary products delivered in new, exciting ways. Such was the case with Squeeze-It, yet another fruit punch that the drinker had to—get this!—squeeze out of its shapely plastic bottle. What will they think of next?!
The most processed of processed foods, Handi-Snacks were simply the bomb. Basically a few rectangular Ritz crackers nestled in an individually-wrapped plastic tray next to a little pot o’ Cheese Whiz. They even came with their own little plastic spreader to facilitate even cheese-spread application. The pretzel stick variety was pretty legit, too.
Capri Sun Pacific Cooler
Hold up, did somebody say “corn syrup–heavy fruit punch”? Capri Sun was the ultimate example, its bright, attractive packaging and vaguely European name making it irresistibly attractive to kids everywhere. Does any daily event of adulthood compare to that moment of stabbing the foil pouch with that sharp little straw? We think not.
While kids would undoubtedly be content to eat candy and chips 'til sundown, '90s parents took the sensible route by packing Lunchables into their children’s backpacks. After all, nothing says “sensible” like highly processed, super questionable lunch meat served with buttery crackers, a piece of candy and a corn syrup–laden fruit punch.
If fruity—or, more accurately, “fruit-flavored”—snacks were more your speed, then Gushers were definitively the nosh of choice during the halcyon days of youth. In fact, their proper name is indeed “Fruit Gushers,” even though the technicolor hexagons bear more resemblance to something born of a 3-D printer than to an actual piece of produce.
Top honors in this list, of course, go to this addictively snackable cookie-and-frosting combo. Somehow, Betty Crocker convinced an entire nation of moms and dads that it was totally acceptable to stock their kids’ lunchboxes with sugar dipped in more sugar. There was many a post-lunch afternoon in school when concentration went out the window as the sugar high took hold.