It’s time for another edition of Six Snacks I Want Back, celebrating the varied fuels of our long forgotten sugar rushes. Read and get hungry!
Butterfinger Ice Cream Nuggets!
Remember when Bart turned us all into Butterfinger fans? Don’t get me wrong — I’m sure some folks already liked the bars, but I don’t recall seeing any of my friends with them before The Bart Era.
Personally, I never went for a Butterfinger until that ad campaign. The flavor, texture and infamous oiliness didn’t really appeal to me, but for a year or two in the early ‘90s, Butterfinger was the only candy bar that made you cooler by association.
I was, however, a tried and true fan of Butterfinger Ice Cream Nuggets — even if I still needed The Simpsons to act as the middlemen. These were like the kid-friendly versions of Nestle’s Bon Bons, and what’s more, they came in little tubs that resembled the curious offspring of movie theater popcorn buckets.
Fruit Wrinkles remain the best fruit snacks of all time, by every objective measure. Whenever I try a fruit snack now, my brain screams, “Please be like Fruit Wrinkles, please be like Fruit Wrinkles.” They never are.
In their original incarnation, Fruit Wrinkles resembled raisins, but ironically weren’t very wrinkly. Compared to today’s fruit snacks, they were harder, richer and had much deeper flavors. (The grape ones, for example, tasted like straight-up red wine.)
Later, Fruit Wrinkles came out in assorted fruit shapes. Of particular interest were the newly cherry-shaped ones, which looked like the fruit snack versions of the cherries from Super Mario Bros. 2. (And back in elementary school, I wasn’t the only kid who noticed. Whenever one of us ate five of them, we’d run around the lunchroom, pretending to be invincible.)
Wacky Fruit Bubble Yum!
We tend to remember the ‘80s with an exaggerated wash. In that regard, old Bubble Yum commercials were downright prescient, representing their era with all of the wild colors, styles and fashions that would only later be known as “perfectly ‘80s.”
Those aspects weren’t just in the pitch — they were in the product, too. I’ve already written about Checker Mint Bubble Yum, which was so in tune with our present hyperbolized ideas of the ‘80s, it almost seems like a parody now.
Wacky Fruit Bubble Yum is another example. I can’t recall the taste, probably because Bubble Yum never seemed particularly concerned with defining it. The gum was “wacky fruit flavored,” and it was our job to accept that and shut up.
Bubble Yum used to do such a great job of making gum seem like a party. Like you’d buy a pack and everything dull would suddenly turn neon. Sidewalks would transform into discoteques. The clouds would rain pop rock. Today’s gum causes none of these things.
Planters Cheez Balls!
It’s hard to argue that Planters Cheez Balls were that much different from any of the cheese balls still on the market, but if you’ve eaten them, you know that they were.
Today’s cheese balls mostly amount to a faint cheese dusting over otherwise flavorless orbs of styrofoam. By contrast, Planters made the real shit. These were cheesy to the core.
When you bit them, they’d quickly collapse under the weight of their own cheesiness, and morph into wads of spiky cheese gum, ready to be slowly rationed to your throat from the sanctity of your cheeks. That, my friends, was living.
The canisters were a big draw, too. They felt expensive. It was hard to throw the cans away even after you’d eaten the last Cheez Ball, lest that be the week that your teacher commanded you to build a Darlene Conner-style medieval castle for extra credit.
Good Humor Shark Bars!
Just in time for Shark Week, I’d like to remind you that Good Humor Shark bars used to be a thing. They came out at some point in the late ‘70s or early ‘80s, as evidenced by this old commercial’s Jaws-style pitch.
These were not run-of-the-mill freezer pops, mind you. They were originally sold off of ice cream trucks, where the competition was fierce and no popsicle could afford to dog it. As such, the pops really did look like sharks, and not in a “suggested” sort of way. There were even finely etched gills!
Grape in flavor but blue in color, my only regret is that they didn’t come in inedible plastic form, too. They looked like toys, after all. I would’ve loved to stage a shark puppet show that didn’t melt during the first act.
Snickers Ice Cream Bars!
(In the old wrapper, I mean.)
Before anyone jumps down my throat over imagined offenses, yes, I know that Snickers Ice Cream Bars still exist. This lamentation is strictly over the loss of their original, cream-colored wrapper.
The Snickers Ice Cream Bar debuted in the early ‘90s, and for a minute, it was the hottest thing going. As kids, we treated those things less like food and more like sacramental bread. When we got one, we’d kind of just stare at it for a minute, in silent deference to whatever higher power made that possible.
It’s easy to take such simple technology for granted today, but Snickers as an ice cream bar was a MAJOR deal back then.
Frankly, I think it had a lot to do with the wrapper. Mimicking highlights from the regular Snickers wrapper, the unique cream color just looked so fancy and ethereal. The only thing missing was an electronic device that blared a heavenly hum after you opened it.
I firmly believe that the Snickers Ice Cream Bar never would’ve taken off without that wrapper. Remember, packaging is everything. If it wasn’t, dog food wouldn’t look so goddamned appetizing.
PS: Dino Drac’s July Funpack is still on sale, but there aren’t many left! If you want in, now’s the time. Last month’s sold out before several interested parties could join in… don’t let that happen to you!