This past weekend I went backpacking in the East Hudson Highlands. At lunch, I tore open a package of the latest probiotic, gluten-free, antioxidant-rich, 7-grain, 100 calorie-bullsh*t bar. As I mindlessly masticated the chalky meal replacement, I yearned for a treat that was tasty and timeless. Remember when you ate something not because of how many grams of protein was packed into it, but because it was delicious? Screw the organic stamp; it’s time for the 10 Best Snacks From Back In The Day.
Remember the commercial? A montage of kids eating these syrupy gems, then getting an aneurysm that transforms their heads into fruit. The green one was my favorite but it came with a cost; just try fitting into a doorway when your domepiece has mutated into a watermelon.
America has always valued freedom. This includes the freedom to choose how much frosting you want to put in between your cookie sandwich. Most people I know recklessly dunked the cookies into the frosting, burying the biscuit beyond recognition. Americans have always valued abusing freed, too!
8. Big League Chew
I was never a fan of these ribbon-thin strips of pink bubblegum, but I’m well aware it was a little league/CYO/JCC favorite. How Wrigley was allowed to market pseudo-dip to kids is still a mystery to me. Ask the guy with half a jaw where it all went wrong; I bet he’ll mumble “Big Leauge Chew”.
YOU CAN WEAR A RING AROUND YOUR FINGER, RINGPOP! / IT’S A JUICY JEWEL FLAVOR, OOH RINGPOP! If you cannot finish the lyrics to that sacred hymn, please close your laptop screen and proceed to submerge yourself in the nearest body of water. I was straight-stuntin’ with this sugary bling. My fingers stayed iced out, albeit a little sticky. Don’t get it twisted though; I shared the wealth. With Ringpops, I proposed to more women than Larry King. Zip-zow!
6. Deli Chips
I know of more memorable snacks out there, but the purple and yellow neon package just seductively whispers “nostalgia” in my ear. Sure you were probably expecting Handi-Snacks or those gross orange cracker and peanut butter sandwich things here but hey, maybe my childhood was a little different. Not like “groomed since age six to become a tennis star and subsequently home-schooled” different. That’s too different. Save the Ploids you collected from the Cheetos and Sun chips, I was all about the Deli, dude.
5. Sunny Delight
The bane of purple stuff nationwide. I have a very specific memory of Sunny D: In Kindergarten, we were given a compulsory portion of generic animal crackers and a small carton of ambiguously sourced milk. One day, a girl unsheathed a bottle of Sunny Delight from a paper bag at snack time. We were entranced with the delicious intruding beverage. Within days, my classmates and I had begun bringing in our own name-brand treats. Soon, a rudimentary trading floor emerged; Polly-O string cheese was bartered for chocolate pudding, etc. Eventually, our teacher, Mrs. Milmerstadt, informed the class that home food was to be banned from snack time; it wasn’t fair for everyone else. I surmised that one of poor kids had complained to his mother out of jealousy. That’s why I now pack a filet mignon and vintage Chablis for work to stick it to the peasants.
4. Kid Cuisine
Remember when fish sticks were a socially acceptable form of nutrition? My mom had some irrational fear of microwaves, so I would sit in front of the oven watching the brownie rise and the corn realize it’s made a horrible career decision. I can’t imagine that parents still let kids eat this stuff. If the apocalypse comes, I guarantee the chicken nuggets and pudding combo outlasts us all.
I was one of those kids who use to rinse the sour part off, leaving only the sweet hard candy. I guess that’s the modern day equivalent of chasing your vodka or cutting your bath salts. Wally Warhead looks like he’s making the duck face. Maybe that’s where it comes from?
2. Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs
Jordan-Pippen. Jerry-George. Chocolate-Peanut Butter. It never tasted quite right, kind of a weird derivation of the two. But this was my breakfast cereal of choice. I could put down 2-3 bowls easy before the bus came. Now I force myself to swallow Greek strained yogurt and pretend everything is right with the world.
No single snack epitomizes my childhood more than this heavily processed and sodium-saturated delight. The buttery crackers. The discs of rubbery ham. The translucent saccharine of the Capri Sun juice pack! They all dance around the maypole of my memory. Of course, my recollections of Lunchables extend far beyond the tastes of the food itself.
– The crackers, cheese, and meat were never portioned quite right. Towards the end of the pack, you’d be making triple cheese and ham sandwiches on one cracker.
– The Pizza was an abomination. A semi-hard, bleached flour moon with a tube of tomato sauce and some oily pepperoni. Still, this room-temperature travesty became a mainstay in the cafeteria. Astonishing.
– I’m all for assimilation, but when someone let the cheese cross the salsa partition in the Nachos pack, I was immediately grossed out. I was very much a proponent of segregation when it came to the dipping.
That about wraps it up. Feel that I left out any classics? Want to share your own memories of old school lunchtime? Leave ‘em in the Comments section!
Krum is an NYC based comedian and one nostalgic son of a bitch. You can follow him on Twitter @KrumLifeDotCom.
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