I wasn’t sure if today’s topic truly deserved to be one, so I asked the folks on Twitter:
Does anyone want to read about really old Fruit Roll-Ups?
— Dinosaur Dracula (@DinosaurDracula) July 31, 2014
They said yes. And that’s how you came to read 750 words about old Fruit Roll-Ups.
…and not just any old Fruit Roll-Ups, mind you. These are Jurassic Park Fruit Roll-Ups, made to promote The Lost World back in ’97. As a fan of all things dinosaurs and all things fruit snacks, I will forever hold my peace about this marriage.
I love Fruit Roll-Ups. I must’ve eaten a thousand of them by now. They prettied up my lunch boxes like vases on end tables. To this day, I know few finer comfort foods.
I love Jurassic Park, too. The first one, the second one, the third one, and even the still-incubating fourth one, which I believe will include mutants and space aliens. Whenever the mailman drops off a package I’ve been waiting for, I still hum the JP theme. Whenever I meet a woman named Amber, I want to grab her face and scream about mosquitos.
Yes, yes, yes. Jurassic Park Fruit Roll-Ups are so up my alley.
The wrappers had a great look. Silver and red, and covered with dinosaur silhouettes. Were I ever in the position to design a football team’s uniforms, these colors and images are exactly what we’d be going with.
The only way to make good on the Jurassic Park connection was for Betty Crocker to stamp each Fruit Roll-Up with peel-out dinosaur shapes. Look close and you’ll see the imprints of a parasaur and an apatosaurus, words I swear I didn’t have to spend ten minutes looking up.
Gotta be honest. I was around when “shapes” were first introduced to Fruit Roll-Ups, and at the time, I wasn’t happy about it. They rarely peeled off correctly, and the added indents made it tougher to eat a Fruit Roll-Up in the way God intended: By wrapping it around your index finger and fellating the fuck out of it. Don’t act like you didn’t do it.
But there were always exceptions, and the chance to make movie star dinosaurs out of strawberry wallpaper was certainly one of them.
Hey, what do you know? The staleness of 17-year-old Fruit Roll-Ups makes it much easier to peel the shapes off. You should thank me for that tidbit. Prior to me sharing it just now, it was the sort of thing that could only be learned through experience.
The Roll-Ups featured different dinosaurs. You generally got two “intact” dinos on each, plus a few random body parts from others.
Never before had there been such clear cut justification in playing with your food.
In fact, the shapes doubled as a subversive diet, because few kids could look at these cute strawberry dinosaurs and then bite their heads off. No, your job was to care for them, for as long as they could stand it. You were to tape them to construction paper and surround them with marker-drawn prehistoric landscapes. And then you’d put that shit on the fridge.
On the fridge, not in it. This wasn’t food.
Don’t worry, you still had plenty of scraps. You could eat those.
Just to make the greatness greater, the boxes included cutout dinosaur cards. On their reverse sides were assorted dinosaur factoids, written with gusto by someone who was more comfortable developing promo copy for fruit snacks.
Oh, and here’s the cake topper: They also ran a sweepstakes where the winner would be identified by a roaring box. Like, if you opened the box and some hidden mechanical gizmo made dinosaur noises, you would’ve won a “Lost World Adventure.” (An all expenses paid trip for 8 to New Zealand, apparently.)
Forget the prize. The mere idea that one might open a box of Fruit Roll-Ups and hear dinosaurs screaming was enough to keep everyone coming back for more. And if you didn’t win, hey, at least you still got to play with strawberry stegosauruses.
The world has always been cold, cruel and twisted. Every generation finds new ways to cope. In 1997, we did it with Jurassic Park Fruit Roll-Ups. For a fruity few minutes, nothing hurt and the air smelled sweeter.
People who ate ten of them in a sitting weren’t “hungry.” We just didn’t want to live through the comedown.