35 Snacks From Your Childhood You Forgot You Loved
There are certain things that might stand out from your childhood: favorite songs, TV shows, memories from family vacations. But there's something about beloved snacks that can sum up an era and bring back a wave of nostalgia in a single bite. To really hit that nostalgic feeling, we've rounded up 35 childhood snacks from the '70s through '00s that you may have forgotten you loved.
Many of these are still on the market today, but we're betting you don't eat them on a regular basis. (When's the last time, say, you dug into a little box of Nerds?) From strange flavor combinations to candy perfection to lunchbox classics, we've got everything from the weird to the wonderful. How many of these do you remember?
And for more nostalgia, check out these 15 Classic American Desserts That Deserve a Comeback.
Snacks from the '70s
Few food experiences come close to that of the literal sugar explosion in your mouth that is Pop Rocks. Though patented in 1961, Pop Rocks didn't hit the shelves until 1975 and immediately became part of the zeitgeist. And, though Pop Rocks were discontinued in the '80s, they've made a comeback and are thankfully available today.
Depending on where you grew up, you may have known these cream-filled cakes by a number of names: Ding Dongs, King Don, or Big Wheels. Whatever you call them, there's no denying the allure of these sweet childhood snacks. They bring everything satisfying about dessert into a single, handheld package.
A true product of the '70s, Combos—true to their name—combine some of the best foods into one satisfying, crunchy stuffed snack. While today there are flavors like Buffalo Blue Cheese and Honey Sriracha, the Pizzeria Baked Pretzel flavor will always hold a place in our hearts.
Depending on your age, you may remember different versions of the memorably named Whatchamacallit candy bar. When it first debuted in 1978, Whatchamacallit was made of a peanut butter crisp coated with a thin layer of chocolate. Come 1987, they switched up the formula to include chocolate, caramel, and peanut-flavored crisps. Both versions are delicious, but the truth is that the best part about these candy bars is the name.
Is there anything more nostalgic than recalling the innocent Ring Pop proposals of youth? The wearable plastic rings topped with lollipop jewel candy—invented in 1975—were all the rage well into the '90s. Thankfully, these childhood snacks are still on the market today, so you never have to choose between flavor and fashion.
Promising "the real flavor of pizza," the crunchy, wheel-shaped Pizza Spins snack was only around from 1968 to 1975 but garnered a devoted fan base. There's even a Facebook group devoted to bringing them back and discussing how other pizza-flavored snacks compare (spoiler: none of them come close).
It's hard to imagine today, but there was a time when chalky sugar sticks were sold to children to look like cigarettes. They actually can be traced back to the 19th century, but anyone who grew up in the '70s, '80s, and even the '90s will likely remember pretending to "smoke" these strange snacks. Shockingly, they are still produced despite having fallen out of favor.
The sweet parade continues with Pixy Stix, from when regular candy wasn't cutting it and you felt the need to practically mainline sugar. The beauty of Pixy Stix was in its simplicity: Simply pour that sweet and sour powder straight into your mouth. (If you remember Fun Dip, that was the same stuff, just in a package instead of in a straw and served with a candy dipper.)
Hunt's Snack Pack
The only thing more exciting than instant pudding in the '60s, '70s, and '80s was pre-made, individually packed pudding. Today, you'll still find individual plastic packs. But back in the day, Hunt's Snack Packs came in single-serve cans and were marketed as a healthy treat for kids.
Jell-O is, it would seem, around to stay, but Jell-O 1-2-3 didn't survive past the '90s. The '70s, however, were its hey-day, when the glorious, three-layered, pink-hued gelatin dessert seemed like the height of sophistication and convenience.
Snacks from the '80s
Jello-O Pudding Pops
Like The Breakfast Club, big hair, and shoulder pads, Jell-O Pudding Pops were icons of the '80s. The frozen treats were a childhood favorite, but they disappeared from store shelves in the '90s. Today, you can buy a kit with popsicle molds to make your own…but it's not the same.
While Nerds are still available today, they are a clear child of the '80s. The colorful pebbles are essentially crystallized sugar, coated with additional layers of sugar. It's hard to say what exactly was so appealing about funneling those little sugar beads from the box into your mouth, but something about it is satisfying.
Born in 1983, Hot Pockets are one of the great American snacks. A microwaveable calzone-meets-turnover, Hot Pockets have a genius sleeve to keep them crisp (theoretically) in the microwave. Though they've gotten a bit of a reputation as post-party food, they hold a solid spot in many an after-school memory.
In an age when health food was teetering on the bring of fringe and mainstream, Smartfood—white cheddar popcorn, made with real cheddar—arrived on the market in 1985 as an antidote to the junky, neon-colored alternatives out there. The concept landed, and you can still get the beloved snack today.
It's true, the '80s were a good decade for popcorn. And Pop Secret helped explode the microwave popcorn market. Who didn't love those commercials with Orville Redenbacher and his actual grandson dressed in matching bowties?
And remember the Pop Secret Pop Qwiz (nope, that's not a typo) line from the 90s where the popcorn was a surprise color? (Because who doesn't want to eat green popcorn, right?)
The 1980s also brought with it the beginning of the ongoing reign of Lunchables, those compartmentalized, pre-packed lunch packs that have become part of the fabric of American school lunches and are still going strong three decades later. Though they've introduced many varieties over the years, their original combo of cold cuts, cheese, and crackers can't be beaten.
Did you know that Chex cereal has been around since 1937? And while the first recipe for Chex party mix was published in the 1950s, it wasn't until 1985 that packaged Chex Mix hit grocery store shelves. The childhood snacks became an instant hit, thanks in part to the memorable Charlie Brown and Peanuts commercials that went along with them.
It's hard to remember a time before mass-produced tortilla chips. And though Tostitos weren't the first, they have consistently cornered the market since they first appeared in 1980. The first two flavors were traditional and nacho cheese, both of which are still top sellers today.
It's hard to believe that the chewy, leathery, vaguely fruit-flavored taffy candy experienced the popularity it did. But don't you remember loving the stuff? With flavors like blue raspberry, strawberry-watermelon, and white mystery, we'd be lying if we said we weren't relieved to see these childhood snacks are still available.
Just try not to get the Bagel Bites jingle stuck in your head: "When pizza's on a bagel, you can eat pizza any time." One of the great innovations of the 1980s, the frozen food combined two favorites: pizza and bagels (in this case, mini bagels). The product got an extra cool factor in when Tony Hawk starred in its commercials, too. Kids (and, let's be honest, adults) are still loving them today.
Cool Ranch Doritos
Doritos came on the scene in the 1960s, but it wasn't until 1986 that Cool Ranch Doritos changed everything we know about snacking boldly (the original incarnation of Doritos were basically just plain tortilla chips).
Fortunately, this perennially popular zesty flavor is still available (PHEW). And let's not forget the 3D Doritos of the '90s, either.
Snacks from the '90s
Probably one of the most fondly remembered bygone snacks, Betty Crocker Dunkaroos came individually packed and lunchbox-ready. Though the concept was simple—vanilla cookies with a side of chocolate frosting for dunking—the impact was big. They were discontinued in the United States in 2012, but there's a silver lining. Dunkaroos are returning in summer 2020!
Fruit snacks are a hallmark of childhood, but do you remember Shark Bites? They might not have tasted different than any other fruit snacks, but those cool shark shapes, the mysterious white shark, and the special editions like shark teeth and tiger sharks all made their mark on the snack world. They're still around today, just with a few extra labels promising that they are gluten-free and naturally flavored.
The '90s were truly a gummy golden era. Perhaps the strangest—but among the most memorable—were Fruit Gushers, a jewel-shaped gummy candy filled with thick, fruity liquid that gushes out when you bite down. They are, as promised, made from real fruit juice as well as sugar and corn syrup. Lots of corn syrup. If you want to revisit your youth, you can still grab a box.
Fruit by the Foot
Although Fruit By the Foot is essentially the same formulation as Fruit Gushers and Fruit Roll-Ups (not listed here, but right up there), there was something special about unrolling the sugary fruit snack—each one is indeed about three feet long.
Sort of like how Fruit By the Foot was fun because of how it unrolled, the appeal of Bubble Tape was all in unrolling the glorious six feet of gum from its cool plastic container. It was like an accessory and a snack all in one.
A non-peanut snack from Planters, Cheez Balls were fluorescent-hued with a delicate crunch. They're also a success story for anyone who has ever mounted a Facebook campaign to bring back their favorite childhood snacks.
Cheez Balls were discontinued in the early '00s. But apparently, the fans were vocal, and in 2018, they were reintroduced for a limited time.
Pizzarias Pizza Chips
With their tempting "cheese pizza flavor" (and two other varieties). Pizzarias Pizza Chips were kind of like Doritos—but pizza flavored. As the tagline went, "Tastes like real pizza…ONLY LOUDER!" RIP, pizza chips.
The Flintstones sherbert treats that you pushed up through the sleeve as you ate were actually a pretty brilliant design. And with flavors like Yabba Dabba Doo-Orange, Bedrock Berry, and Lime Rock Lime, who could resist these childhood snacks? You can still find Push-Up pops, but they're not Flintstones-branded, so are they even the real deal?
Following the popularity of Butterfinger candy bars, Nestle introduced Butterfinger BBs in '92. They were basically Butterfingers in ball form: a crunchy, flaky peanut butter-flavored center coated in chocolate. Sadly, Butterfinger BBs came off the shelves in 2006.
Although they were only around from 1992 to 1995, Planters P.B. Crisps were a big hit while they lasted. They featured a crispy graham cracker exterior shaped to look like a peanut shell and were filled with sweet peanut butter creme. They really were one of the most perfect childhood snacks out there.
Snacks from the '00s
Philadelphia Strawberry Cheesecake Snack Bars
Basically an individually wrapped strawberry cheesecake in bar-form, Philadelphia Strawberry Cheesecake Snack Bars were beloved. There's even a petition to bring them back, which is filled with comments from fans who remember not only how they taste, but how they made them feel.
Although they were only on the market for a few years, Swoops were a treasure. They took all our favorite candy bars—peanut butter cups, peppermint patties, almond joy, and more—and made them look like a Pringles chip. Hershey's promised that "the unique shape envelops your mouth in chocolate bliss." That's an accurate description of one of our favorite childhood snacks.
Cool Cuts Carrots with Ranch Dip
With the rise in demand for healthy yet convenient snacks, pre-packaged, pre-cut fruits and vegetables began to crop up. You may remember the Bugs Bunny Cool Cuts Carrots packages with ranch dip, which made you feel cool for having carrots in your lunch.
Hershey's S'mores Bar
In 2003, Hershey's brilliantly took campfire s'mores and turned them into a year-round, highly snackable candy bar. It featured graham cracker topped with marshmallow and coated in chocolate, and it lasted nearly a decade before the product was, sadly, discontinued.
Now that you've reminisced about some of your favorite childhood snacks, you can take comfort in the fact that many of these are still available today. You don't need a lunch box to enjoy these tasty treats either!
And when you're cooking at home, don't miss these 52 Life-Changing Kitchen Hacks That'll Make You Enjoy Cooking Again.