Skip to content

The One '90s Snack You Should Never Eat Again, Says Science

It might bring on a wave of nostalgia, but that doesn't mean it's actually good for you.

Oh, the '90s. It was a decade that really was all that and a bag of chips. A time when you were most likely to be found downing a pack of Gushers or mini pizza bites while you listened to music on your portable CD player. While you might immediately be able to close your eyes and remember what that first bite of a Cosmic Brownie tastes like, have you ever wondered which of these snacks was truly the worst, health-wise?

Think about it—the 1990s was a time when just about everyone ate processed foods that came in bright colors and fun (aka artificial) flavors. Not even breakfast was safe. (Just think about the cereals that seemed more like a dessert and Pop-Tarts you most likely started your morning with!) This is all just a nice way of saying you were eating loads of sugar. Your nostalgia might come calling when you're grocery shopping and you find yourself wandering down the snack aisle, gazing over at the snacks from your youth, but there is one option that wasn't a good idea then, and still isn't.

So which '90s snack should you really kick to the curb for good, never to have it return to your diet ever again? (Although if you're enjoying this trip down memory lane, go ahead and check out these 15 Classic American Desserts That Deserve a Comeback!)

Zebra Cakes

little debbie zebra cakes

Per serving: 320 calories (14 g total fat, 8 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 48 g carbs (0 g fiber, 33 g sugar), 2 g protein

There really was no greater feeling than uncovering a pack of Little Debbie Zebra Cakes in your lunchbox. One bite and you were feasting on fluffy creme-filled yellow cakes that were covered in a mix of white icing and fudge stripes. But what you might not realize is just what you were putting into your body.

This snack is more than 300 calories and is packing 14 grams of fat. It has no fiber, which means you'll be hungry again not too long after eating these, as fiber is what contributes to whether a food will actually leave you full and satisfied. A major downside of eating a diet that is high in processed foods is that they are often lacking in fiber and other nutrients that help fill you up. This can then lead to overeating later, and you'll just consume tons of empty calories that can ultimately cause weight gain.

But the big culprit here is the amount of sugar.

The first two items on the ingredients list are sugar, followed by corn syrup. So it shouldn't really come as much of a surprise that this snack has more than 30 grams of the sweet stuff. For reference, that's more sugar than what you would get if you ate three Original Glazed Krispy Kreme Donuts. And those donuts are bigger than these mini cakes! It's important to keep in mind that the American Heart Association recommends men should consume no more than 36 grams of added sugar per day, and women shouldn't have more than 25 grams per day. All of that added sugar consumption can have negative side effects, including weight gain, and doubling your risk of dying from heart disease, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Another aspect of this snack that makes it truly dangerous? Each little pack that is in the come does come with two cakes in it. If you're being honest with yourself, there really is a very slim chance you would be able to just eat one and save the other cake for later, as they are rather small. Able to do that, or share with a friend, then sure, it's OK to indulge every and now and then. But having these processed cakes on hand in your kitchen at all times isn't the best move. Sorry, but there aren't many benefits that come with indulging in this snack from your youth.

So for that, Zebra Cakes earn the title of the worst '90s snack, no matter how beloved they might be.

Looking for more helpful tips? Your ultimate restaurant and supermarket survival guide is here!

Jennifer Maldonado
Jennifer Maldonado is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and health content. Read more about Jennifer