What are your favorite snacks of yesteryear that don't make the grocery shelf cut anymore? They probably wouldn't survive a transfat ban and they'd make healthy-school-lunch lobbyists wince, but gee whiz, we can't help the way we feel. Here's to gushing over the landmark snacks of the 1970s, '80s, and '90s—inspired by a Talk thread from last week.
10. Crystal Pepsi
For only one glorious year ('92 to '93) was it possible to let that un-brown, caffeineless cola touch our lips. Purity, clarity, and see-through unbelievability made this a breakthrough soda, even if it was still crammed with phosphoric and citric acids. Saturday Night Live took the concept to another, more carnivorous level with Crystal Gravy. When viewed today, the commercial for Crystal Pepsi is almost indistinguishable from such parody:
Link: Crystal Pepsi 1992 [YouTube]
9. Keebler Tato Skins
A beloved portable version of the bar food mainstay, these haven't been spotted since the late '90s, but their classic commercial is still out there. Showing us around the fantastical 'tato-skin-making factory, the ominous narrator repeats three times, "the potatoes are REAL." Do we sense some overcompensating? How real, Keebler? The closest replacements these days are T.G.I.Friday's Potato Skins, but who wants them if they're not made by mini elves with mini spud peelers?
Link: 1980's Keebler Tato Skins Commercial [YouTube]
8. Gatorade Gum
GatorGum, like its liquid sister, attempted to "quench thirst." Non-jocks were apparently allowed to chew it, too. More sour than your average wad of chicle, the lemon-lime and orange chewiness made the mouth pucker—and almost swallow the darn thing. It was just that good.
7. Thomas' Date Nut Loaf
So missed, they've made the Thomas brand's homepage on the FAQ list. The bread officials answer, "No, it was discontinued some time ago." But rumor has it they've resurfaced on grocery shelves between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Those in really desperate states should try this B&M brand brown raisin bread. (Yes, bread from a can!)
6. McDonald's FRIED Apple Pies
In 1992, some McFool decided these should be baked instead of fried, hence a companywide transition. But wait: Certain oddball Mickey D's locations at Wal-Mart stores, airports, and various overseas branches still have them. Since these holy spots are too cramped to fit ovens, they can't sell the baked doosies! Only the fried, cinnamon-dusted nostalgia.
5. Ecto Cooler
Was it the ectoplasmy shade of green or Slimer's possessed face that make us miss these juice boxes so? The Ecto Cooler went so well with peanut butter sandwiches, barbecued chicken, chocolate cake, Chinese food, anything. Lasting for two decades, Minute Maid finally yanked them in 2001, replacing them with some lame Shoutin' Orange Tangergreen flavor.
Link: Ecto Cooler! [YouTube]
4. Keebler's Magic Middles
Dome-shaped cookies magically injected with chocolate goo. How did they do it? Well, little elves have little hands, naturally. Nothing gluten-free, organic, or low-carb about them. Ah, the late '80s. Maybe we should start an anti-environmental campaign and burn down Keebler elf trees until they bring them back?
Link: 1989 Keebler Magic Middles [YouTube]
3. Hostess Pudding Pie
Little Debbie is trying really hard to fill this gap, but who is that curly redhead kidding? Nobody wants the syrupy cherry filling, we want the tapioca-like creaminess! According to one RoadFood forum, the pies have cropped up at wayward convenience stores in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and New Hampshire. Road trip, anyone?
Link: Classic 1980's Hostess Pudding Pie Commercial [YouTube]
2. Ninja Turtle Foods
The anthropomorphic reptiles had time to battle petty crimes and alien intruders—and to develop their own line of foods. Everything from a frosted Chex-like cereal with ninja-inspired marshmallows to Pizza Crunchabungas (vaguely pizza-flavored corn snacks) to themed Hostess Pudding Pies (see above, then multiply by a green sugary crust). Secret ingredient? Sewer gunk.
Link: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cereal Commercial [YouTube]
1. C3P0s Cereal
Yet another cereal inspired by a film, which usually means lazily throwing in a few marshmallows abstractly reminiscent of the character's head and—bam!—rush to get them on the shelves before the film loses mass appeal. Not so with this one. The Honeycomb-ish o's actually tasted good! Kids love 'em... and aliens love 'em too, yay! And they'd probably sell just fine today to man-child fanboys.
Link: Kellogg's C3POs Cereal [YouTube]
About the author: Erin Zimmer, our Washington, D.C., correspondent, is a new media analyst and frequently writes for Washingtonian, DCist, and other local publications. While Georgetown's food columnist, she investigated the cafeteria's omelet station, Hoya coffeeshop's cultish pumpkin muffins, and what exactly the basketball players ate.