They are foods of nostalgia, dreamt up in a marketing brainstorm, pushed onto an unsuspecting public, and loved briefly by the masses. Then without warning, they were ripped from our adoring clutches. Sure they were junk foods, and we’re clearly better off without them. But for some reason we can’t help but miss these 20 discontinued foods...
20. Crystal Pepsi
At the height of the Cola Wars, Pepsi tried to one-up Coke by creating a clear cola, which it launched with a memorable Van Halen-backed marketing campaign. Coke fired back with something called Tab Clear, which was reportedly enjoyed by a total of seven people. Perhaps that’s because Coke’s new Tab was endorsed by the decidedly less-popular Van Halen cover band “For Unlawful Cola Knowledge.”
19. Nintendo Cereal
The Nintendo Cereal System, as it was actually known, contained two types of cereal, one for Super Mario Brothers, another for the Legend of Zelda series. While Mario’s cereal was intended to taste fruity and Zelda’s was meant to be berry-esque, both were 8-bit flavoUrs in a 64-bit cereal world. This naked marketing gimmick was sold by Ralston, a company that also made dog food and—if memory serves correctly—Super Mario Bros. 2.
18. Hi-C Ecto Cooler
To call Ecto Cooler nectar of the gods would not be doing this Slimer-endorsed snack drink justice. Even though the Ghostbusters cartoon tie-in looked like something your dad kept in a plastic spray bottle in the garage and used to kill weeds and/or raccoons, its taste was glorious - so glorious that the juice was available on supermarket shelves until the early 2000s. Not bad for a drink based on a movie that hit cinemas in 1984.
17. Jumpin’ Jack Cheese Doritos
Introduced to the world in a commercial by a hip, loose-tied Jay Leno leaning against a brick wall, Jumpin’ Jack Cheese Doritos were a big hit with Doritos lovers and snack aficionados. Tragically, the Monterey jack-flavoured chips were discontinued for reasons unknown. Perhaps even more tragically, Jay Leno still has a TV career.
What happens when you lace chewing gum with Gatorade and possibly crack? You get GatorGum, an amazingly potent stick of lemon-lime flavour. (Orange was available, too, but only weird kids chewed it.)
15. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Turtle Pies
Though their green sugar crusts looked downright nasty, turtle pies were filled with vanilla-flavoured lumps of wonderfulness that were loved the way the TMNT crew loved pizza and every 12-year-old boy loved April O’Neil. Perhaps the greatest lesson of these pies is how there’s no way any kid would have ever touched one of these things if they hadn’t borne the TMNT seal of approval. Hear that, liverwurst industry? You need to get you some endorsements from reptiles who know kung fu.
14. Mr. T Cereal
If you loved the taste of Cap’n Crunch, but hated how the dude on the box was not a black TV star with a Mohawk, gold chains and a memorable catch phrase, then Mr. T Cereal was the cereal for you. We pity the fool who doesn’t get his daily allowance of fortified B vitamins.
13. PB Max
Here’s a true snack food tragedy. These fantastic nummers were made of creamy peanut butter and oats on top of a square whole grain cookie, all of which was encased in milk chocolate. That’s pretty much our definition of heaven in a candy wrapper. While the exact circumstances of PB Max’s decline are unknown, we hear the Mars family held a distaste for peanut butter, public adoration and record profits.
12. Pudding Roll-Ups
The 1980s were a heady time for big business, and the Big Pudding lobby, fronted by Bill Cosby, was not to be messed with. This sugary consortium manipulated pudding into every possible food form in order to pump it into our stomachs. Didn’t think pudding could come in a flat form that you could roll like a cigar? Never doubt science. Pudding roll-ups came in chocolate, butterscotch and vanilla, and were sold with a slogan that should’ve tipped all of us off to their evil scheme: “Pudding in disguise!”
11. Cröonchy Stars
There’s never been a better cereal box in history. Designed by Jim Henson, the container encasing Cröonchy Stars featured ridiculous and sometimes unsolvable games and puzzles. The cereal itself? Not so great. It tasted like Cinnamon Toast Crunch if Cinnamon Toast Crunch had been made in the Soviet Union and shipped on a slow, leaky barge.
10. Smurf Pasta
It was mushy canned pasta, but it was mushy canned pasta that had Smurfs on the label, which meant every bratty 9-year-old had to have it. This Chef Boyardee mix came loaded with “Papa Smurf’s secret sauce” – just try and find that not creepy. The brand even gave Smurf Pasta an origin story, in which Gargamel steals all of the Smurfs’ food, and Papa Smurf conjures the already-canned food so that his Smurfs don’t have to resort to cannibalism to survive.
9. Bar None
Bar None was distributed nationwide in 1987, at a time when Hershey’s had clearly been resting on it’s E.T.-Reese’s Pieces laurels and hadn’t put out a new product in years. The children of America were ready for change, in the form of a cocoa wafer, chocolate filing, peanuts, and a milk chocolate coating. The taste was all kinds of excellent, and kids loved it. Then Bar None disappeared mysteriously, reappeared just as mysteriously in 1993, and later disappeared again. Kids nationwide were left thinking that it was somehow their fault, which might explain the nationwide increase in candy consumption.
8. Frank ‘n Stuff Wieners
Frank ‘n Stuff Wieners were hot dogs with chili or cheese stuffed inside. When microwaved, the filling got hot enough to shoot fire through a child’s mouth and out of his ears. Painful? Perhaps. Delicious? Absolutely. (Assuming you survived the blast.) The wieners weren’t sold for long, and today there is shockingly little evidence that they ever even existed. But they did, and those fortunate few who ate these highly processed lava rockets and lived to tell about them can still be seen wandering down the hot dog section of their supermarket, quietly hoping for their return.
7. Cheesy Poofs
Last summer, in honor of South Park’s 15th season, Comedy Central and Frito-Lay sold Cheesy Poofs in Wal-Marts across the country. The Poofs were basically the same as any other cheese-flavored puff (a can’t-miss snack), so yes, they tasted good. But Matt Stone and Trey Parker were said to be involved with the development of real-life Cheesy Poofs, which means each one probably contained trace amounts of Christmas poo. (You know, because of Mr. Hanky?)
6. Burger King Burger Bundles
In the 1980s Burger Bundles were Burger King’s answer to White Castle Sliders. They didn’t taste as good as White Castle’s little burgers, but they were more accessible. The Bundles also provided an affordable alternative from the traditional, more-expensive BK burger. But then the ‘King jacked up the prices.
5. Dr. Pepper chewing gum
Dr. Pepper Gum was available during the early 1980s, back when drinking Dr. Pepper was a rebellious middle finger to the entrenched power of the Pepsi-Coke establishment. This chewing gum was memorable for having liquidy Dr. Pepper syrup inside the centre. Unlike so many liquid-centered based chewing gums, snacks and lozenges, Dr. Pepper Gum syrup ACTUALLY tasted like Dr. Pepper. It was like chewing the drink. Dr. Pepper Gum was beloved by all who knew it.
In a world where tiny kid hands fumbled to pop can tabs and struggled to lance straws into tiny drink box holes, Squeezit’s design was heroically simple: You just tore off the top and squeezed. It’s impossible to overstate how popular these were. The flavours were awful—totally watered down, no sugary kick—but the packaging was perfect. You could add pellets that changed the color of your drink, and there was even a black Squeezit that made you guess what the flavour was. HINT: It was white wine cooler. (No, it wasn’t.)
3. The McDLT
In 1984 McDonald’s solved an age-old fast-food dilemma with the McDLT. In traditional wrappers, the heat from burger patties would wilt the vegetables’ crispness. But with the McDLT, the meat and bottom bun were packaged separately from the lettuce, tomato, cheese, pickles, sauces and top bun. The innovative design delivered on Mickey D’s promise to keep “the hot side hot and the cool side cool.” But it also was made of Styrofoam, which is why it was discontinued in the early 1990s.
2. Reggie Bar
Reggie Jackson, was a baseball slugger for the New York Yankees with an enormously high opinion of himself, thought the Baby Ruth candy bar was named after Babe Ruth. (It’s not.) When he complained that he didn’t have a candy bar of his own, Standard Brands launched “the Reggie,” a circular bar of peanuts dipped in caramel and covered in chocolate. The bar was a grand slam. But while Reggie Jackson went on to be inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993, the Reggie Bar has not yet received the requisite number of votes from sportswriters. It’s a travesty.
1. C3PO’s Cereal
Let’s put aside the fact that C3PO was the LEAST likeable character from the original Star Wars movies, and probably should not have been allowed to endorse anything other than a laser gun that specifically destroys C3PO. We should also try and forget that the cereal itself was beyond unoriginal, tasting eerily like Alpha-Bits and looking like two Cheerios fused together to form a number 8. C3PO’s mattered because they gave kids one more way to think about Star Wars at every turn – in this case, just before they were supposed to be getting ready for school. It was a crunchy new force at breakfast, indeed.