Let’s head back to the ‘90s to go grocery shopping. Assume we have a time machine and low aspirations. And that I’m the tallest.
Below: Eight great junk foods from the 1990s, immortalized in old newspaper advertisements.
Wise Crazy Calypso Chips!
Augh, finally! I’ve been trying to dig up evidence of these DELICIOUS THINGS for close to a decade! Wise’s Crazy Calypso chips might sound only a little offbeat by today’s standards, but back in the early ‘90s, this was a big stretch.
Wise’s prior flavors included regular, barbecue and sour cream & onion, and then WHAM, they smacked you in the face with SWEET & SPICY CARIBBEAN STYLE CRAZY CALYPSO CHIPS. Minds could not process! We’ve since had like 250 additional varieties of Wise chips, and by all rights, they still shouldn’t be up to Crazy Calypso.
Perhaps that’s why the flavor was short-lived. The public just wasn’t ready for THAT LEVEL of chip. It’s a shame, because these were honestly some of the best potato chips that I’ve ever eaten. They tasted like they’d been dusted with dehydrated french dressing. So good.
Hostess Ninja Turtles Pies!
Colloquially known as Turtle Pies, these were generous squirts of vanilla pudding trapped inside calzone-like shells that were then frosted with green icing. A figurative and literal mouthful. They looked like Ninja Turtle kidneys, and biting into one was like popping the world’s largest zit.
I’m not a fan of pudding pies in general, but there was something uniquely spirited about Turtle Pies. They were like the perfect blend of Toys “R” Us and the trashy corner store. Now that Ecto Cooler made its return, I’d call Hostess Turtle Pies the next big thing that has to come back.
Mistic Spring Water ‘n Juice!
I was all about Mistic. If you never had their sparkling fruity beverage things, the best of them were similar in execution to Clearly Canadian: Almost unbearably fruity, and a bit like syrupy seltzer.
Back in the early ‘90s, Mistic didn’t have a lot of competition. It was the fanciest drink at the deli, and it tasted like liquefied Fruit Roll-Ups. It was an easy pick, and I remember spending one summer — in 1992, probably — drinking Mistic almost exclusively. By September, I needed bigger shirts and my stomach was in perpetual distress.
The secret truth about Squeezit is that it’s basically still around. Many companies continue to sell weird neon juices in plastic squeeze bottles, and they assuredly taste similar.
When it comes to Squeezit nostalgia, we’re really talking about the bottles themselves. They were molded to look like tormented souls serving out their purgatorial sentences as plastic flasks. Every bottle of Squeezit was like getting a new toy, or maybe even a new friend. I wish more of my toys and friends tasted like wet cotton candy.
Jumpin’ Jack Cheese Doritos!
Behold, the best Doritos flavor there’s ever been. I’m serious. I won’t budge on this.
They were like a more cheddary version of Cool Ranch Doritos. Unbelievably delicious. Though Jumpin’ Jack Cheese Doritos have returned more than once over the years, the chips just aren’t the same when they don’t come out of bags like that one.
The original bag put neon wording over a slick black background, and the whole thing looked like the Negaverse version of The Max. The chips didn’t even need to be good in a package like that.
Hostess Grizzly Chomps!
Strange as they seem, I can understand Hostess’s reasoning.
These were fat free cupcakes, meaning that parents who kept an eye on such things were more likely to buy them. But since kids sometimes took “fat free” to mean “tasteless bullshit,” Hostess went the extra mile to create a child-friendly theme.
Each cupcake arrived with a portion of it already “bitten” out, as if to suggest that part of the Grizzly Chomps QC’ing process involved letting live bears eat half of your food. It was… it was just insane enough to work.
Amazin’ Fruit Juice Boxes!
Amazin’ Fruit marked the one and only time that gummy bears were more than just gummy bears. They were to gummy bears what Jelly Belly is to jelly beans, if that makes sense. The bears tasted fantastic, and what’s more, the TV commercial versions of them sung like angels.
I had no idea that Amazin’ Fruit branched off into juice boxes, nor was I aware that the bear mascots were eventually joined by some kind of surfing alligator. It seems impossible that these things could’ve slipped by me, so I must surmise that I’ve been banished to a slightly alternate universe. Now I need to figure out which one of you is fucking with me.
Awesome Fruit Snacks!
Now this is a whole lotta goodness!
Garfield had fruit snacks and stand-ins for Fruit Roll-Ups. Both were delicious. Yes, it helped that Garfield and Friends was a hot show at the time, and yes, it helped that the snack boxes were as blue as the brightest sky. Even putting aside those perks, those things turned food into drugs.
And as for Shark Bites, you could make a decent argument that they’re the best fruit snacks of all time. From a taste perspective, I don’t find that to be even remotely true, but chasing down those elusive great whites was certainly the best-ever fruit snack gimmick.
(You’ll have to forgive me for only giving Berry Bears this passing mention. After Garfield and great white sharks, nothing about strawberry bears really pops.)
Thanks for reading about old junk food. Go eat carrots.