Whenever I watch old movies, I keep an eye out for old junk food. Sometimes I spot it during a kitchen scene. Other times it’s while characters zip around supermarkets. Whatever the case, spotting old junk food makes me lose track of the movies’ actual plots as I bittersweetly contemplate a world without Giggles cookies or Micro Magic cheeseburgers.
Below: Five classic snacks hiding in various flicks from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Movie: They Live (1988)
Junk Food: Giggles Cookies!
In a key scene, Nada (Roddy Piper) tests his magic sunglasses and realizes that we’re surrounded by aliens. This goes down in a little supermarket. Pause on the wide shot just as Nada enters the store, and you’ll spot an honest-to-goodness box of Giggles cookies!
Those things were legit. Think of them as the midpoint between Oreos and E.L. Fudge. I’m still shocked that they didn’t become a cornerstone brand for Nabisco, because the way I remember it, everybody loved Giggles.
The happy-faced cookie sandwiches with the two-tone centers were damn tasty, and the way that those kids from the commercials caught laughing fits from them was just so much fun to imitate. A+ on Giggles. (And on Nada, too.)
Movie: Honey I Blew Up the Kid (1992)
Junk Food: Micro Magic!
Early in the movie, Wayne Szalinski microwaves lunch for his son. This directly leads to said son transforming into a superimposed giant baby, so if you’ve seen the movie, you should remember this scene.
…but did ya notice exactly which foods Wayne had decided to nuke? A motherfuckin’ Micro Magic burger, and an also-motherfuckin’ box of Micro Magic fries! Oooof, I had to stop to fan myself. I adored the Micro Magic brand, and in particular the fries.
Micro Magic fries came in what were essentially potato-filled juice boxes, or “potato boxes,” as they’re colloquially known by exactly one person. They never cooked right and always tasted vaguely like chemicals, but man, once you got used to them, even actually-good fries paled in comparison.
You know how certain fries do that thing where the inner potato becomes a sort of slush, and you use the fry’s shell as a straw to suck up that slush? Every Micro Magic fry was like that. Mileages vary, but I love that kind of fry.
(I also loved the fact that I could sneak off to my bedroom with those boxes. Hot fries, in my bedroom?! It was like living in the future. They paired so well with reruns of Mama’s Family and Amazing Stories.)
PS: Big thanks to Matt (another Matt, I mean) for tipping me off about this!
Movie: Blue Steel (1990)
Junk Food: Charles Chips!
At the start of the film, rookie officer Megan Turner (Jamie Lee Curtis) shoots an armed robber in a grocery store. As she sneaks up on the mugger, keep your eyes peeled for that beautiful display of Charles Chips!
Charles Chips are still in production, though now they’re a “boutique” item, available at a few chains and by mail order. Back when I was a kid, Charles Chips was a MAJOR brand. In fact, the company used to have dedicated trucks that performed weekly deliveries to its clientele. Like milkmen for potato chips!
My family never participated, though our neighbors several doors down did. I’d seethe with envy whenever the Charles Chips truck pulled up to their house with those giant tins of chips and pretzels. Freakin’ royalty over there.
Movie: Police Academy 2 (1985)
Junk Food: Pac-Man Cereal!
During the scene where Zed and company trash a supermarket, there’s a killer shot of the cereal aisle. Of particular interest is a lone box of Pac-Man Cereal, which debuted in 1983 and lasted through 1987. (Though to be clear, it was only kinda/sorta available during those final years.)
The crunchy cereal bits were somewhere between Kix and Corn Pops, but the real stars were the marshmallows. Pac-Man and the ghosts were always in the mix, but Ralston eventually added new marshmallows to keep things fresh, in Ms. Pac-Man and Super Pac-Man shapes.
Pac-Man Cereal has no analogue. There was never a cereal quite like it, and there hasn’t been one since. I guess you could steal the marshmallows from Lucky Charms and mix them into a bowl of Kix, but even then you’d only be on the same continent.
Movie: Home Alone (1990)
Junk Food: Crunch Tators
In the famous “ice cream scene” where Kevin watches Angels with Filthy Souls, take note of the bag of Frito-Lay’s Crunch Tators. I grew up believing them to be fake snacks devised for the film, since I definitely never noticed any “Crunch Tators” in the stores around here. Lo and behold, they were real!
Crunch Tators were extra-crunchy chips that came in jalapeno or mesquite flavors, which were pretty outside-the-box by the era’s standards. Mascotted by a multicultural cartoon alligator, it kills me that I never got to experience these. I don’t know if they were regional or if I was just too hyper-focused on Cool Ranch Doritos to notice them, but if Frito-Lay brings them back, I promise to make up for lost time.
Thanks for reading. Consider this “Part 1” in an ongoing series, mostly because I just remembered that awesome shot of Nut & Honey Crunch cereal from Christmas Vacation. We’ll be doing this again!