It’s easy to look back on the past and feel a pang of nostalgia. We all long to revisit the places of our youth, but, unfortunately, many of those sites are long gone. Just like that old drive-in or favorite store at the mall, there’s another major source of nostalgia: packaged snacks that are gone but not forgotten.
It’s hard to look back on the foods of our youth without getting a little sentimental. But while you can always fix yourself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the crusts cut off just like Mom used to make, there are plenty of snacks that simply don’t exist anymore.
Nostalgia for the foods of the 1990s is at an all-time high right now, as millennials look back and remember those heady pre-9/11 days when 401(k)s were just a glint in their eye; but all generations feel a nostalgia for their youth to some extent. Even if you grew up in the ‘60s and don’t feel any nostalgia for, say, Mixed Vegetable Jell-O for Salads, you might still be able to conjure up the taste of the long-vanished Nestle Triple Decker Bar in your mind.
And it’s for that reason that we went all the way back to the Roaring ‘20s and tracked down packaged snack foods from that decade through the 2000s that simply aren’t around anymore. Many of these were perfectly tasty, but went the way of the dodo because they simply didn’t sell, or because parent companies (like Peter Paul, Sperry, Hollywood, Heide, and Curtiss) were swallowed up by larger companies like Nestle, Hershey, and Mars and their products were put out to pasture. But even though you may not be able to find these products on grocery and candy store shelves any more, it doesn’t mean that they don’t still exist in our memories.
Up until the 1920s, most snacks were simply packaged and not branded (the decade’s most popular snacks were generic things like nuts, popcorn, potato chips, and penny candies), but that began to change as the ‘20s rolled around and more companies learned the power of marketing. While ‘20s innovations like Eskimo Pies, Baby Ruth Bars, and Honey Maid graham crackers are still going strong, R&R Plum Pudding, Cocomalt, Anola Wafers, the oddly-named Chicken Dinner candy bar (so named because it conjured images of a wholesome, filling meal), the Milkshake Bar, and Klein’s Lunch Bar are long gone. In fact, it’s been estimated that more than 30,000 candy bars were introduced during the ‘20s and ‘30s!
The candy bar boom continued through the Depression era, picking up steam as more and more people were looking for an inexpensive calorie fix. They found them in long-forgotten candy bars like Cold Turkey, Big Time, 3 Pigs, and the Hollywood Bar (along with ones that have stuck around, like Snickers, 3 Musketeers, and Kit Kat). Other long-gone snacks of the era include Ballard Biscuits, Sheffort’s Snappy Cheese, Aurora Borealis gum drops, Angel’s Delight milk chocolate, Bunte Tartines, and a Cracker Jack variation called Cocoanut Corn Crisp.
New snacks introduced during the turbulent ‘40s included M&Ms, Junior Mints, Almond Joy, and Cheetos, but Town Toast Cookies, Rockwood Silver Cups, Ridley’s Root Beer Drops, and Donald Duck-brand peanut butter haven’t stood the test of time. If you remember those, though, then you’ll probably remember candy bars including 3 Chubbies, Sperry’s Denver Sandwich, Curtiss Moon Spoon, Smooth Sailin, Whiz, and Pecan Pete.
The heady postwar days brought plenty of new culinary innovations like frozen Ore-Ida French fries, Cheese Whiz, Pepperidge Farm butter cookies, Peanut M&Ms, marshmallow Peeps, and Ruffles; but many baby boomers still have a soft spot for Nabisco’s Swiss n’ Ham and Bacon Thins; crème-filled Frosted Devil’s Food Orbits; Quaker Roy Rogers Cookies; Juicelets; and bars including Powerhouse, Seven Up, Butter Brickle, Welch’s Fudge Bar, and Chocolate Penguin.
Salty snacks really came into their own in the 1960s, when treats like Ruffles potato chips, Bugles, Doritos, Pringles, and Easy Cheese first hit the shelves (along with timeless sweet treats Pop-Tarts and Drake’s Funny Bones and Yodels). But if you grew up during the decade, you might be longing for another taste of vanished salty treats like Corn Diggers, Dipsy Canoes, Flings, Sip ‘n Chips, Wampum Corn Chips (which many still insist were superior to Fritos), Shapies, Pokes, Salty Surfers, Flings, and Whistles and Daisys (which were released along with Bugles, the only one to survive). Fans of sweet treats most likely also remember Nestle’s long-gone Calypso and Triple Decker bars.
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New snacks of the 1970s included such timeless classics as Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn, Cup Noodles, Yoplait yogurt, Famous Amos cookies, Hunt’s Snack Packs (in aluminum cans), Pop Rocks, Starburst, Twix bars, and Ben & Jerry’s, but if you grew up in the ‘70s we bet that there are plenty of vanished snacks you’re still pining for. Remember Mars’ Marathon Bar, the Reggie! Bar (celebrating Reggie Jackson, of course), the Starbar, Nestle Go Ahead, Wonka’s Oompas and Super Skrunch, Choco’Lite, Jell-O 1-2-3, Kellogg’s Danish Go-Rounds, Koogle’s peanut spread (banana-flavored!), Nickles Banana Flip, Pizza Spins, and Nabisco Tid-Bits?
Kids of the 1980s had some great new snacks to try, including Pop Secret popcorn, Hershey’s Kisses with almonds, Jawbreakers, and Cool Ranch Doritos. But plenty of ‘80s snacks came and went, including Gatorade’s Gatorgum, Bonkers! bars, Nestle’s Alpine White bars, Bar None bars (which have been revived but definitely aren’t the same), Summit cookie bars, Hershey’s S’Mores, Nabisco’s Swiss Cheese Crackers, and the beloved Jell-O Pudding Pops. And if you had the opportunity to try a Big Stuf Oreo, a massive Oreo that was only around from 1984 to 1991; or Hostess’ legendary pudding-filled fried pies, consider yourself lucky.
1990s kids had a massive array of amazing snacks to dig into after school, including Dunkaroos, Gushers, Fruit by the Foot, Warheads, Bagel Bites, Fruit Roll-Ups, Teddy Grahams, Airheads, and Fun Dip. (There’s a reason why millennials are so nostalgic for this time!) Not all of the most popular ‘90s treats are still around these days, however; Amazin’ Fruit snacks, Life Savers Holes, Shark Bites, String Thing, Tongue Splashers gum, cookies and crème-flavored Twix bars, Dannon Sprinkl’ins, PB Max (a masterpiece of chocolate, peanut butter, oats, and cookie), P.B. Crisps, and Keebler’s Magic Middles have all gone to the great big snack shop in the sky. Yet somehow, Snackwells are still around!
It may be hard to believe, but the 2000s have already been around for 18 years. And while it seems as if every trip to the supermarket reveals some newfangled snack, plenty of them have gone away for good during this time; we bet that you didn’t even realize that some of these were gone! Remember Altoids Sours, Butterfinger BB’s, Philadelphia’s calorific Snack Bars, Planters Cheez Balls, Skittles gum, 3D Doritos, the whoopee pie-esque Oreo Cakesters, and Pop-Tarts Snak-Stix (which were around for one brief, shining moment in 2002 and 2003). And admit it: You probably had no idea that cinnamon Tic-Tacs and lime Skittles were discontinued (in 2009 and 2013, respectively). And don’t even get us started on fast food items that we miss!
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