Ready for a somewhat cringey trip down food memory lane? Our childhoods were likely filled with long-forgotten sweets and treats that were once cherished prizes at the end of a long school day, or a surprise treasure found in our lunch boxes. But just like the green and purple Heinz EZ Squirt Ketchup and Spaghetti-O’s, time has enabled us to reminisce over our favorite snacks with a more critical eye.
There has been and always will be a time and a place for snacks that we know are not good for us, but ones we love nonetheless. Much of the appeal had nothing to do with nutritional facts at all, but rather the fun colors or inventive packaging that accompanied these treats.
Maybe our taste buds changed over the years, and what was once delicious is now egregiously sugary. Or, perhaps, as we have grown older, we have simply become more aware of what the nutrition labels on our foods actually mean.
No matter the reason, there are many once-popular snacks that we may have thrown a small tantrum over if our parents did not buy for us back then. Nowadays, we walk by in the store without hardly noticing. Here are several examples:
Let’s start-off strong with some straight-up sugar that we actually thought counted as a viable snack back in our childhood. We know that children seem to have an affinity for all things sweet, but something actually once possessed us to pour paper straws filled with sugar into our mouths, and we called that a snack. Pixy Stix came in different flavors to create the illusion that we were eating something different from one colored straw to the next, but as the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20.
Also known as “Nik L Nip,” these tiny wax bottles were filled with syrups of varying flavors. But not only were these wax bottles not the best nutritionally and filled solely with liquified sugar, you actually had to work in order to enjoy them. You had to bite off the top of the bottle before you could access the “juice.” Then, if you were feeling really adventurous, you could keep chewing on the wax bottle to your heart’s content.
Candy cigarettes were just plain wrong on so many levels, not the least of which being the bizarre concept of thinking that giving your small kids a fake cigarette to “smoke” was a good idea. North Dakota even banned the candy for a period of time in the 1950s and 1960s, according to a 2000 journal article catalogued by the National Library of Medicine. Ethics aside, the once-popular candy did not even taste good! Essentially a small cylinder of chalk, this is one snack that many folks were probably happy to see kicked to the curb.
Perhaps you remember Candy Buttons under one of their many other names, like Candy Dots or Pox. The pea-sized colorful dots of candy came stuck to wax paper, which back in our childhood years probably seemed like a mile long. You can stock up on Candy Buttons on sites like Old Time Candy, but you might be better off remembering the candy as a fond distant memory rather than tossing a few back and being reminded that they weren’t the tastiest of sweets.
Cheese is a much beloved food, which makes it an even greater offense when it is tampered with and reduced to a dip of questionable consistency. While the Ritz Crackers N’ Cheese Handi Snacks were definitely an easy treat to toss in our lunch boxes, we are willing to bet that it has been a hot minute since you last tried them. As kids, we would marvel at the act of taking a small plastic red stick as an appliqué for the cheese, and if we’re being honest, it was probably one of those situations where the crackers merely served as the vessel for the cheesy dip.
It was a good day when you would open up your lunchbox and discover that your parents slipped in a package of Dunkaroos. The miniature graham cracker-esque cookies that came with their own side of funfetti or chocolate frosting started to make a bit of a comeback in recent years, leading many of us to reunite with the long-forgotten sweet treat. But some things are better left in the past, and as an adult, you may finally realize how deeply sub-par and overly sweet Dunkaroos actually are.
Hostess is no stranger to highly processed sweets, but back in the day, the nutritional value meant very little to us as kids. All that mattered was whether or not there was a box of Twinkies waiting for us when we got home from school. The iconic dessert came in a variety of flavors, including Banana, Cotton Candy, and even Pumpkin Spice. Baked desserts are still guilty pleasures for many of us, but we can’t help but scratch our heads and wonder why we seemed so unbothered by the 47 grams of carbohydrates we would consume in each serving.
For a more savory snack that always came through for us after school, Hot Pockets were a popular option. Flavors included Pepperoni Pizza, Philly Steak, and Buffalo Chicken. These are still available today if you want to brave the boiling hot filling that would totally burn your tongue time and time again. But as curious as you may be, keep in mind that Hot Pockets totally are not good for you, and on top of that, they aren’t that tasty to begin with. Few snacks can beat the convenience and the affordability of a Hot Pocket, but as one Redditor noted, “Hot Pockets are revolting and inedible, and I do not understand how everyone seems to love them.”
If you went around as a kid sipping on your glass bottle of Yoo-hoo thinking you were drinking chocolate milk, think again. Yoo-hoo does not shy away from the fact that it is merely a “chocolate-flavored drink,” but you are probably way better off drinking an actual glass of chocolate milk when it comes to nutritional value. When your first two listed ingredients are water and high fructose corn syrup, you are basically sipping on a glass of highly processed, sugary water. If you love all things chocolate, you probably already know that you can do so much better.