Maniac Cop 2 is a wonderful horror movie that improves upon the original in every way.
At least, that’s what I’ve heard. I’ve never actually seen the whole thing, despite listening to the Maniac Cop Rap several times each week. I did watch the first 15 minutes, though, thanks to a tip from my pal Sammy Hain.
See, early in the film, there’s a scene set within a street corner deli. If you inspect that scene closely, you’ll spot all sorts of awesome junk foods from 1990:
The scene establishes Maniac Cop as a… well, maniac cop, who stops an armed robbery only to kill the clerk himself. It’s a tense sequence that doesn’t exactly beg you to keep an eye out for old Kool-Aid, but that’s exactly what I did.
I don’t know if the filmmakers rented an actual deli or just fabricated one, but since the place gets totally trashed, it’s probably the latter. In any case, it certainly looks like a legit 1990 street corner deli. A really good one, too, complete with Joe Camel signage and an Operation Wolf arcade cabinet.
None of us have been inside that store, but every single one of us has been inside that store. You know what I mean.
There are many recognizable foods on the shelves, but they’re for the most part things that we can still obtain today, in nearly identical packaging. I did manage to pluck out a few items that were worth pausing for, though. If you were looking for extra reasons to champion Maniac Cop 2, below are five of them:
#1: Micro Magic French Fries!
I’ve written about Micro Magic french fries plenty of times before, but since I’ve gotta fill out this space somehow, let’s pretend I haven’t.
Micro Magic fries came in what looked like extra-thick juice boxes. Rip one open, pop it in the microwave, and voila — almost-instant french fries, in their own cardboard spaceship!
The fries were good, but in a gross sort of way. Think of the sketchiest diner in your neighborhood, and then imagine that diner branching out into the food truck business. Micro Magic fries came from that truck. They were greasy to the point where you could literally sign checks with one. Meanwhile, the insides were still powdery enough to make the fries work like potato-based Pixy Stix.
I know that sounds terrible, but after enough repetitions, “terrible” became its own kind of wonderful. They grew on you like a fungus, which is also what they smelled like.
#2: Nabisco Doo Dads!
While it would be accurate to describe Doo Dads as “unlicensed Chex Mix,” the stuff was delicious enough to completely outshine its inspiration.
Doo Dads consisted of wheat squares, pretzel sticks, peanuts and SWEET ASS NABISCO TID-BITS. If you couldn’t tell by the caps lock and “sweet ass” descriptor, the Tid-Bits were Doo Dads’ lifeblood.
Also sold separately, Tid-Bits were cheese crackers shaped like elongated pills. Picture the power-ups from Arkanoid, but made from cheese. They tasted great, but the real draw was that shape, which let you eat them in so many different ways.
Sometimes I’d bite the tips off and pretend each Tid-Bit was a tiny cigar. Other times, I’d stuff as many in my mouth as I could stand, and then take a swig of iced tea so as to suggest a tunnel’s support beams collapsing under the weight of some great flood.
You take Tid-Bits and throw them in a box with peanuts and pretzel sticks, and it was like every box of Doo Dads was filled with edible tinker toys.
#3: Bud Bowl II!
This isn’t exactly a “food,” but can you blame me for gushing about that Bud Bowl II display? I’m only human.
Bud Bowl II was the second of Budweiser’s semi-annual football games, which aired during various Super Bowls. Anthropomorphic Budweiser bottles squared off against anthropomorphic Bud Light bottles in a series of thirty-second spots, and I gotta tell ya, as a kid at the time, THAT was the Super Bowl to me. I never would’ve watched those games if not for the brief interludes starring helmeted beer bottles.
You could even grab scorecards from displays like this to keep track of the games as they happened. In retrospect, the Bud Bowls seem so kid-targeted that I have no idea how Anheuser-Busch got away with them. Course, this was 1990, when you could still use a cartoon Miami Vice camel to sell cigarettes.
#4: Mountain Berry Punch Kool-Aid!
Stationed near the register were several packets of Mountain Berry Punch Kool-Aid, one the most-missed of all discontinued Kool-Aid flavors. (Longtime Dino Drac readers may remember this experiment from 2017, where I ripped open an old packet and threw caution to the wind re: expiration dates. )
The allure of Mountain Berry Punch lied in its mysteriousness. The Kool-Aid Man wasn’t exactly forthright about its intended taste, so aside from some degree of certainty that it included strawberries, the flavor was open to interpretation.
It was like the kid version of that Frasier episode where the Crane brothers fought to become Corkmaster. We’d swish the Kool-Aid around and compare notes with our friends, never sure if we were right but always sure that they were wrong.
Yeah, they’re still around, but today’s Handi-Snacks aren’t like the old ones. Aside from the assorted design changes that make them look way less like things that popped out of a Warner Bros. cartoon, Nabisco also stopped including the stick. And ya really need the stick.
For those who don’t recall, Handi-Snacks originally came with little plastic sticks. They looked like that fake piece of Dentyne from the opening shot of the old Big Red commercial. We were meant to use those sticks to spread processed cheese over the crackers, but in practice, they were just as effective in creating cheese lollipops.
I get that we’re aiming to cut down on plastic, but stickless Handi-Snacks are soulless wastelands of weakened joy and dirty pinkies. Can’t deal, won’t deal.
If you wanna play along, Maniac Cop 2 is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. I’m curious to see how the rest of the film plays out, but I gotta say, when it starts off with shots of Micro Magic fries and Mountain Berry Punch Kool-Aid, there doesn’t seem to be anywhere to go but down. Hope you’re up for the challenge, Mr. Matt Cordell.