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15 Beloved Foods You Grew Up Eating That Are Terrible for You

They might've been lunch box staples, but there is nothing redeeming about these former favorites.
pop tarts

When you think back to your childhood and what you would often turn to when it came time for a snack, it's safe to say you go-to options weren't necessarily the healthiest. Yes, you might be able to close your eyes and still taste those bags of Cheetos you used to eat while watching your favorite TV show after school. Sorry to disappoint, but it shouldn't really come as that much of a surprise that a lot of your childhood favorites were simply just processed junk, devoid of any valuable nutrients. But hey, it did taste great, right?

Well, we're here to take a trip down memory lane and remind you of the foods you used to love that are frankly just awful for you. Here's a breakdown of the worst childhood foods.



strawberry pop tarts

Per pastry: 200 calories, 5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 170 mg sodium, 38 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 16 g sugar), 2 g protein

There really was nothing throwing a pack of Pop-Tarts into the toaster, and taking a bite into the warm pastry filled with gooey filling. The classic frosted strawberry variety you thought would be "healthier" than say the s'mores option, as it has fruit. If you take a look at the ingredients though, you'll see plenty of sugar and high fructose corn syrup on the list before you eventually stumble upon "dried strawberries." With the amount of sugar and extreme lack of fiber from these, you probably didn't realize it was the culprit as to why you were hungry not too long after breakfast.


Reese's Puffs

reeses puffs

Per 1 serving: 120 calories, 3 g fat, (0.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 160 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (1 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 2 g protein

A cereal-version of the classic Reese's Peanut Butter Cups? It was too good to be true! And it actually was, if you thought Reese's Puffs cereal was a healthier alternative to eating the actual candy. Again, it's full of sugar and didn't really do much of anything for you, nutritionally speaking. It's no wonder it received a rather low grade in our breakdown of the best and worst kids' cereals.


Capri Sun

caprisun fruit punch

Per 1 pouch: 50 calories, 0 g fat, (0 g saturated fat), 15 mg sodium, 14 g total carbs (0 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 0 g protein

You should always be wary when it comes to juices, as they too tend to be packed with sugar. Capri Sun didn't really have much going for it back in the day, and sadly it still doesn't. (If you're looking for more helpful tips, your ultimate restaurant and supermarket survival guide is here!)


Zebra Cakes

zebra cakes

Per 1 package, 2 cakes: 330 calories, 14 g fat (8 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 150 mg sodium, 48 g carbs (0 g fiber, 33 g sugar), 2 g protein

Opening up your lunch box and seeing a pack of zebra cakes would instantly make your school day better. But in reality, you were munching on more than 300 calories in just one snack that had more sugar than if you ate three Original Glazed Krispy Kreme Donuts…


Hot Pockets

hot pockets

Per sandwich: 310 calories, 14 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 630 mg sodium, 35 g carbs (1 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 10 g protein

Everyone burned their mouth biting into one of these, right? The Hot Pocket was known for packing everything you love about a pizza into a flaky crust, but with all that sodium and only one measly serving of fiber, it was never worth indulging in this freezer-aisle favorite. It's no wonder they're on our list of the worst frozen foods in America!



pringles sour cream onion

Per 1 serving of Sour Cream & Onion Chips: 150 calories, 9 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 160 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 1 g protein

When it came to Pringles, the concept was "once you pop, the fun don't stop," and it was very easy to eat many of these chips in one sitting. The sour cream and onion flavor was always a hit, but something you might've not known is that these chips do contain monosodium glutamate (MSG). It's a rather controversial food additive and although it has been deemed safe by the FDA, it has been said to cause adverse effects such as headaches and dizziness in some people.



cheetos crunchy

Per 1 serving: 160 calories, 10 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 250 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 2 g protein

The amount of sodium you get out of one serving is enough to leave these downright addictive chips alone. In fact, researchers at Deakin University found that eating excess salt can lead you to crave and eat more fatty foods overall. You might have fond memories of having bright orange cheese-dust filled fingers after eating these, but it's best to keep those thoughts in the past.



lunchables ham cheddar

Per package: 350 calories, 17 g fat (8 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 660 mg sodium, 39 g carbs (1 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 11 g protein

There was nothing like a Lunchable. Whether you were stacking up the little slices of deli meats and cheese on crackers or making your own mini pizza, the act of making your own lunch was always a thrill. Sadly, Lunchables are rather disappointing, as they are packed with fat and sodium.



combos cheese pretzels

Per 1 serving: 140 calories, 5 g fat (3 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 300 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (1 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 2 g protein

Pretzels seem to have a reputation of being a better option than potato chips, and these iconic Combos are filled with cheddar cheese. Must be better for you, then! Not exactly, as pretzels are loaded up with just as much sodium as you would get from a bag of chips.


Snack Pack Chocolate Vanilla Pudding

snack pack

Per pack: 180 calories, 4.5 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 200 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (2 g fiber, 22 g sugar), 1 g protein

A pudding pack that featured both chocolate and vanilla? A dream come true! Well, not entirely, as Snack Pack's legendary flavor combo is packing 22 grams of sugar, with 20 of the 22 grams being added sugars. Big yikes.



spaghetti os

Per 1 serving: 290 calories, 2 g fat (1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,070 mg sodium, 58 g carbs (5 g fiber, 22 g sugar), 10 g protein

Campbell's SpaghettiOs were like your own hybrid of spaghetti and soup—it was truly unmatched. But this pasta in a tomato and cheese sauce entrée is swimming in a ridiculous amount of sodium. That's nearly half of how much sodium you should have in an entire day! Along with all that sugar, which is thanks to the sauce, this canned meal is one you were better off leaving on the shelf.



Yoo hoo chocolate drink
Courtesy of Yoo-Hoo
Per bottle: 170 calories, 1.5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 260 mg sodium, 39 g carbs (2 g fiber, 36 g sugar), 2 g protein

You might've thought downing some Yoo-hoo was a great way to get your milk fix, but it's important to note this is a chocolate drink. Meaning, no, it's not chocolate milk. The first two ingredients on the list are water and high fructose corn syrup before there is even any mention of chocolate even! With 36 grams of sugar in one bottle, it's a bit scary to think about how much of the sweet stuff you most likely were sipping on daily.


YoCrunch Yogurt

yocrunch oreo topped strawberry yogurt
Courtesy of YoCrunch
Per container: 180 calories, 3 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 110 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (0 g fiber, 26 g sugar), 5 g protein

Mixing bits of Oreo cookie into yogurt was a rather genius idea. It made for a tasty snack, but YoCrunch's yogurts are high in calories and are packed with sugar. This strawberry variety has more sugar than you would get if you ate five actual Oreo cookies!




Per 1 serving of Cheddar & Sour Cream Chips: 160 calories, 10 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 180 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 2 g protein

Ruffles were 100% a beloved lunchroom star, but there's a good chance you often crashed after, right? This afternoon snack will just leave you feeling bloated and most likely reaching for more to eat not too long after you finish a bag.


Kid Cuisine Frozen Meals

kid cuisine spaghetti and meatballs

Per 1 meal: 400 calories, 12 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 530 mg sodium, 56 g carbs (6 g fiber, 21 g sugar), 14 g protein

Oh, the Kid Cuisine. The bright blue microwavable trays that featured everything from spaghetti and meatballs to mac and cheese to chicken nuggets and fries and chocolates and brownies seemed like the most perfect lunch or dinner option. Like most frozen meals, these contain quite a bit of sodium and sugar, especially for a kid to be eating in one sitting.

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