In honor of our Nostalgia issue, I thought I would take advantage of the moment to delve into the world of discontinued and vintage snacks to see which ones really stand the test of time! And by test of time I mean time, because some of these haven’t been in production for actual decades. With my generous budget of $11.37 that I found in small change underneath the furniture of the BuzzCave and scrounged from various vending machines across campus, I’m sure to secure quite the haul! I’m willing to put my tastebuds, personal checking account, and gastrointestinal health on the line, but from what I’ve seen it’s perfectly safe to eat food as long as it’s been sealed. Five second rule or whatever.
Fruitopia – Circa 2000
This fruit-flavored beveragino by Minute-Maid was introduced in 1994 to great acclaim, but unfortunately discontinued in 2003, curses! The second I laid my eyes on these neon-colored bottles and psychedelic 90’s graphic design, I was smitten. I desperately thirsted for the thirst-quenching artificially-dyed goodness. With flavors like Citrus Consciousness, Born Raspberry, Tangerine Wavelength, and Fruit Integration, I knew I had to get my hands on one of these bad boys. I was able to easily procure one from Canada. My flavor of choice? The classic Strawberry Passion Awareness. Overall it was fine, if not making my teeth ache from the sugar. Tastes like the hope and optimism before the 2008 recession plus a lot of fake strawberry.
Jar Jar Binks Tongue Sucker – Circa 1999
Something about the frightening visage of Jar Jar Binks from The Phantom Menace has always captured my imagination. This however, was something I was irresistibly drawn to. The promotional Jar Jar Binks Tongue Sucker promotional lollipop is the product of a few advertising dudes who thought the kiddies would love Jar Jar. How wrong they are. Everyone fucking hates Jar Jar. Regardless, I secured this strange snack on Ebay for an amount of money that makes my wallet cringe. But it is mine. The candy resembles a small model of Jar Jar’s head which opens to reveal a tongue shaped lollipop. The tongue is rendered in incredible detail, with ridges and texture abound. While not very flavorful, I now know what it is like to french kiss Jar Jar Binks. It is quite disturbing, but had a nice layer of dust and what I imagine the concept of terrible CGI would taste like.
Quaker Oat’s Sea Adventures Instant Oatmeal – Circa 1998
This magical instant oatmeal debuted in 1995 after the release of the highly successful Dinosaur Eggs version, but Sea Adventures was sadly terminated in 2000. By bartering with several millennial parents from Portland, Oregon, I received the single package by mail. One cannot begin to describe the joy I felt when pouring the oats into a small bowl and heating the microwaved water to shower upon them. This was a solid choice, as the mysterious “coral bits”in the oatmeal turned the whole bowl a vibrant and questionable shade of blue. It didn’t taste all that adventurous to me, but it was blue, so it was easy to wolf it down. In the aftermath I only experienced minimal stomach distress, and eerily smurf-like bowel movements, so let’s draw that up to a win.
Dunkaroos – Circa 1991
The popular dunking cookie snack Dunkaroos have eluded me for too long. They were originally launched in 1990 only to be discontinued in 2012. By popular demand, Dunkaroos came back in 2020, but I am convinced they’re nowhere near as amazing as the classic version. I tried to get the rare Spongebob Squarepants edition with the yellow frosting, but unfortunately, I was only able to buy this 30 year old package from some guy named Geoffe. Peeling back that plastic was like opening an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus. It hit just right. The cookies were stale but still delicious, the frosting had congealed into an ominous ectoplasm-like sludge with sprinkles in it..but I ate the whole thing anyways. In unrelated news, I have a stomachache.
Squeezit – Circa 1987
While some may say this resembles Fruitopia too much, they are wrong. This one comes in a squeezy bottle. I’m sure people in 1985 were thrilled about the prospect, but I have a vendetta against whoever took it away in 2001. I ordered my individual bottle from a comic book store in Akron, Ohio. Maybe that’s why it has a thick layer of lint on the outside and the plastic bottle is partially melted. While this did make it slightly more difficult to squeeze, it won’t stop me. This Squeezit tasted strongly of plastic and Jolly Rancher’s watermelon, so I guess it must be the exclusive Life Saver’s edition I read about on wikipedia.
Gatorgum – Circa 1982
This Gatorade floored gum first popped on the market in 1981, and it disappeared in 1989, far too soon in my opinion. Who doesn’t love Gatorade? I really had to fight to get my hands on this, in the end I paid $73 dollars for an already opened package, but I’m sure it’ll be just as good. When it arrived I peeled open what was left of the gum. I’m a tad hurt I paid so much for two measly pieces, but I’m sure it was worth it. Not sure if the flavor faded over time, at one point it was supposed to be lemon-lime and thirst-quenching. I’m not getting much of either, I’m getting mostly notes of cardboard. It was basically dust in my mouth, but hey, money well spent.
Pizza Spins – Circa 1972
Pizza Spins were wagon-wheel shaped puffed snacks that taste like pizza. They came out in 1968 and stuck around until 1975. I miss them the way I miss the weirdly-shaped Pizza Hut buildings. I need their seasoned exquisiteness injected into my veins. The particular box I have was found underneath the shelf itself in a clearance section of a ShopRite in Bushwick, my innate sense for vintage snacks drew me to them on my epic quest for nostalgia eats. They are suffused with pizza goodness, like proto-flavor-blasted-goldfish. They have a cardboard-like texture from age, but that gives it body and character, plus a deeper aged parmesan profile! Pretty sure those crispy bits at the bottom of the box were crickets, but they had all the delicious seasoning on them, I couldn’t resist.
Chef Boyardee Ravoli with Beef in Sauce – Circa 1964
This classic food may not be discontinued, but boy does it stimulate my nostalgia neurons. Sometimes all you want is traditional ravioli made with beef(?) and red sauce. I’m pretty confident the ingredients have changed over time so that will be fun to discover. In fact, I uncovered a dented can in the gutter of the street adjacent to a bodega cat when I was in New York City for fall break. I thought I’d crack open this baddie for a post-bagel nibble. I was confused (and delighted) to find that this particular can was dated for April 13th 1964! It shockingly tastes exactly the same as modern Chef Boyardee: distinctly alien from any ravioli or marinara sauce I’ve ever had. It is probably just like eating a can right off the shelf in 2022, my agonizing indigestion disagrees, however.
Lime Jell-O – Circa 1956
A true classic gelatin product, forever in our pantries. While it isn’t hard to find, it’s nostalgic for its own reasons. Just be impressed that I found a package from the 1950s at all. I paired this with mayonnaise and SPAM from the same year, and threw in a bunch of other ingredients to make a traditional gelatin mold dish. Delicious carrots, celery, maraschino cherries, and pineapple chunks should pair well with our vintage Jell-O. Even after chilling, the salad was quite soupy;I guess I didn’t do it for long enough. Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish the dish (had to get my stomach pumped, very annoying), so I don’t feel at liberty to give a proper review.
Can of Peaches(?) – Circa 19??
My final item is a very special item: a can of peaches that I found in the very back of my grandmother’s pantry in a secret hole in the drywall. Don’t know where or when they’re from, but they look great and the mysterious origin is only exciting me more. These peaches were delicious, juicy, and scrumptious. I only had to pick out the pieces of mold floating at the top of the jar, but that was easy enough to do. I ended up drinking the syrup as well, it had me feeling like Stanley Yelnats IV from Holes. Amazing. This is going to be my last vintage food review, I’m in the hospital with something called botulism. At least I have the peace that I can always go out and buy Oreo Cakesters whenever I please.
Connor Stanford is a Sophomore Theatre Studies major who can’t look at Jar-Jar Binks the same way ever again. You can reach them at [email protected].
Art by Julia Young.