Articles collecting beloved snack foods from the 1980s and 1990s that are no longer available* are very popular online, so here’s another one. This one is special, though. This one is about what I miss. What follows is a definitive list of the best things you either miss, or if you’re a disgusting young millennial, you missed out on.
*Some of these are sort of available via online vendors, but they’re no longer ubiquitous like they once were.
Guess what? Shark Bites still technically exist! That’s right, cashing in that asterisk right out of the gate. To be honest, even if they were still widespread I’d have no idea, because adults without children do not buy fruit snacks. It’s just not something that it ever occurs to you to do. It’s a shame, because fruit snacks are delicious.
Shark Bites were introduced by a company called Fruit Corners around 1990. Fruit Corners was just a General Mills imprint under which it released the various varieties of Fruit Roll Ups and fruit snacks sold by the company. Shark Bites can currently be procured on Amazon and other websites, and are sold by Betty Crocker (which is also just General Mills).
The best thing about Shark Bites was obviously the great whites that popped up one or two to a package, and the second best thing if you were smoking weed at the time (which I was not, but follow me on this) was that the name had levels of meaning, man. If they’re Shark Bites then why are they little sharks and not say, teeth, but wait, they’re little sharks and you’re doing the biting. Whoah. Also, if you’re categorizing fruit snacks, they fell into the waxy category as opposed to the pliable and slick feeling category, like Welch’s.
Everybody knew Squeezit. Nearly everybody loved Squeezit. Squeezit was the high school quarterback of lunch juices. Boku was the kid listening to the Smiths and reading Sartre, who would be attending Oberlin next year. Squeezit debuted in the mid 1980s and was available everywhere until 2001. There were several attempts to bring it back in the early 2000s, but it’s defunct for now, the juice box version of the cat headed Cave of Wonders in Aladdin, resting until its slumber is disturbed again.
There’s no real reason to prefer Squeezit over Hi-C or Hawaiian Punch. They were all essentially the same thing: sugar and fruit juice that when you did any additional digging into the ingredients on the box you were shocked to discover wasn’t actually Berry Blast or whatever but somehow apple juice based every time, no matter what it purported to be. The Squeezit preference solely lay in the delivery system. Ce n’est pas une boite, or a pipe for that matter. It was a soft plastic, baby, not too dissimilar from the wax cola bottle candies. To drink it, you did what the bottle said, you squeezed.
The other thing that I really enjoyed about Squeezit was that the anthropomorphic bottles in the ads resembled the Will Vinton claymation characters, particularly the bells from Carol of the Bells. Squeezit didn’t know it at the time, but by doing this they were basically screaming “tell mom to buy me, John.”
Of all the entries on this list, this is the one that I expect will draw the least recognition, so let me sketch out the scene for you. Imagine a cracker. Imagine that the cracker is flavored, say cheddar cheese, or sour cream and onion, or perhaps original, which in my mind isn’t really a flavor but bear with me here. Now imagine that this flavored cracker was produced in the shape of an animal. DO NOT THINK OF A GOLDFISH CRACKER. That shape is of a duck, and the product is called Quackers because it’s an adorable take on crackers. I SAID QUIT THINKING OF GOLDFISH. SERIOUSLY I’VE KILLED PEOPLE FOR LESS.
So yes, Quackers were essentially Goldfish crackers, or later Annie’s Bunnies. They were trademarked in 1983, and stuck around at least into the late 1980s. I loved them so, so much, especially the sour cream and onion ones. I later filled the void that I had forgotten existed inside of me with the sour cream and onion Bunnies from Annie’s, although those may also be gone now, as the only ones that are ever in stock are the cheddar bunnies. The one thing I really loved to do with the Quackers was split them open along the bottom, sort of where an invisible seam existed. The insides were hollow and had a rougher texture than the outside, providing a nice contrast. They were better than Goldfish, and any right thinking American would agree.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Pies
To borrow from and paraphrase a Mel Gibson movie written by some poet, “And all our Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Pies have lighted fools, the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief Turtle Pie!”
It was with us for only a short time, but each life it touched was enriched by its green, pudding filled goodness. The Turtle Pies were introduced in 1990 by Hostess and only struck around through 1991. They were limited edition by design, launched to correspond to the release of the first TMNT live action movie and re-released to coincide with the sequel, Secret of the Ooze. Those of us lucky enough to partake had our lives enriched along with our wheat flour.
The 1980s and 1990s were truly halcyon days for lovers of tiny supermarket shelf pies.
Keebler Magic Middles
In the event you missed out on baked goods with liquid centers by not getting your hands on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Pies, you had a contemporary option with Keebler Magic Middles. Introduced around 1989, the original version was a shortbread cookie filled with melted fudge. It was soon joined by a chocolate chip cookie, and finally another shortbread, this time containing peanut butter. The cookies were around at least well into the 1990s, and are often rumored to be on the verge of rebooting.
Based on this and the previous item, maybe a big part of what I miss about old foods is liquid centers.
What are some of your favorite discontinued snacks? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.