I missed throw-back Thursday, but I want to take a moment to talk about those 90’s foods we ate as kids and revisit an old favorite.
Just the mere sight of a box brought the flavor of Munch ’ems Sour Cream & Onion and cheese powders back into my mouth, two decades later where I am unhappy to say they are still lingering. My lunches were accompanied by so many Munch ’ems.
WOW! chips were supposedly a revolutionary fat-free potato chips fried in a magical substance called Olestra. People gobbled WOW! potato chips and Doritos like crazy until they learned that eating them in large quantities caused diarrhea and gas, and that Olestra prevents the body from absorbing vitamins.
WOW! we’re fat-free chips became WOW! you have diarrhea which is probably why I haven’t seen or heard the word Olestra since the 90’s. My parents were very strict about portion control, so Wow!-induced intestinal distress was never an issue for us (that I can remember). I hope America learned to eat real chips. Just not too many.
Snackwells Fat Free Cookies
My folks were really into the fat-free and sugar-free food movement that surged (no pun intended) during the 90’s.
Our cupboards were always filled with these green boxes of Snackwell’s diet cookies. I ate them, but did not especially like them. As an adult, I’d rather eat no cookie than a fat and sugar-free cookie. I am morally opposed to diet desserts which is why I won’t bring myself to purchase Snackwell’s products for research purposes.
If you are feeling nostalgic, view this compilation of Snackwell’s advertisements that aired between 1993-1998. As the video’s poster aptly states, click only if you are willing to sacrifice 13-minutes of your life you will never get back.
Damn, I actually miss this stuff.
My parents might have bought many of these processed food in the 90’s, but they made sure we ate a serving of fruit and vegetables with each meal and limited our soft drink consumption. Jake is always amused to find I attempt to enforce similar rules as an adult, most especially the “two-cookie” rule. We were brought up to believe one should never eat more than two cookies at a time.
We could drink Clearly Canadian as a treat. The company branded these sodas as a healthier option than regular soda and offered fruit flavors that were less common at the time. Whether or not they were healthier, I am not sure, but they sure were clear. My personal favorite was Mountain Blackberry.
Our public school did not sell soda pop in the lunch line, but they did sell lots of Clearly Canadians and slushies (because those are so much healthier). All the cool kids nursed bottles of Clearly Canadian and we felt peer-pressured to pass them down our long lunch tables so everyone could have a sip. This makes me gag, now.
This mysterious Coca Cola soda only reached test markets between 1993-1995 and Minneapolis-St. Paul was fortunate enough to be included. The only place I ever bought this soda was from the vending machine at church before Wednesday night youth group or choir.
I was drawn to the strange designs on the cans. It was very moody and kind of depressing which probably matched my adolescent frame of mind.
I remember the soda was clear, but can’t even remember what it tasted like. Only, that tasted was less exciting than I assumed based upon the marketing and packaging. According to urban legend, OK Soda tasted like every soda mixed together. I feel like that combination should have had more flavor . Actually, I think I just liked the moody can.
Just as Greek yogurt is all the rage these days, colorful, sugar-laden yogurts were popular in the 90’s.
We stocked cartons of these fat-free and sugar-free yogurts sweetened with aspartame which I always found to have a nasty, distinguishable flavor.
We ate Dannon Sprinkl’ins yogurt packaged with sprinkles that left colorful residue swirled throughout the product. I also remember eating a yogurt that came with a pouch of powder that you’d pour into the yogurt to transform its color and flavor.
Try not to gawk at the questionable bannanastrawberry in this Dannon commercial from 1994.
Worst of all was flourescent Trix yogurt of which I begged my parents to purchase. I think they still make it, but this is another item I can’t bring myself to indulge in, even for the sake of research.
Plantars Cheez Balls
We bought these by the tin. I can’t remember if my parents declared a certain number of cheese balls per serving, but the fact that they tore up the roof of my mouth if I ate too many may have been enough incentive to eat in moderation. I ate so many Cheez Balls throughout the 90’s that similar products are no longer appealing and this is very uncharacteristic of my junk food tastes.
I saw a photo of Amazin’ Fruit on the Buzzfeed quiz How Many 90’s Foods Have You Tried and felt such a large emotional response that I added them to my list.
How could you forget this commercial?
I seem to remember my mom included them in our lunch boxes for special treats and bought bags for my brother and I to eat on the way home from piano lessons.They were highly coveted sweets had one been lucky enough to find a bag in his or her Halloween stash.
I’m not sure what made Shark Bites fruit snacks more special than any other fruit snacks, except that they were shaped like a shark and are discontinued, making us all go “awwww,” out of nostalgia.
They made frequent appearances in my lunch bags (along with String Things that tasted like cherry cough syrup) and I liked the white ones the best.
Make your own pizza Lunchables.
Cold pizza is ok. But cold, assemble-your-own cold pizza? This was my favorite lunch to take to school.
We also ate other Lunchables as treats. Eventually, slimy rounds of lunch meat laden with gristle lost their appeal, no matter how pretty the packaging. As an adult, I revisited the Lunchables section for kicks and giggles which quickly transformed into horror. The Lunchables “without drink” are one thing. The combo packs are another.
Lunchable’s packages their meat, cracker and cheese combination with a Kit Kat and Capri Sun. The Luchables Uploaded line is another monster. One kit includes make your own cold chicken tacos + Cheez-Its, Oreos, a bottle of water and a packet of Kool-Aid tropical punch flavoring because God forbid our kids grow up to drink water that tastes like water, right?
The company notes each product’s nutritional “highlights.” This pizza variety is an “Excellent source of calcium and protein.”
Pizza Lunchables Revisited:
I bought a pepperoni pizza Lunchable without drink at Target for $1.60 and invited Jake to join me on my revisit. I haven’t eaten a pizza Lunchable since middle school while Jake has never eaten one.
The little pizza crust discs are much smaller than I remember, which might not be such a bad thing. You get three.
We assembled our first pizza.
I watched Jake take his first bite. He likened the product to biting into a frozen pizza that was left to thaw.
I found the product to taste exactly like I remembered. I actually didn’t hate it and may or may not have helped myself to a second round.
“This is gross and you’re gross if you like it,” exclaims Jake. I guess that means I’m partially gross. I can live with that.
Obviously, I won’t be purchasing these again, but I must confess I did not find this trip down memory lane as revolting as Jake.
What foods defined your 90’s? What do you miss and what are you glad is discontinued?