I am now the proud owner of a sealed bag of TMNT Crunchabungas. I’m not lying!
Though the packages are dated 1990, research suggests that TMNT Pizza Crunchabungas didn’t hit stores until early ‘91. The snacks debuted at the very height of Turtlemania, when our green heroes were basically the sickly reptilian version of the Beatles.
While Hostess’s TMNT Pudding Pies and Ralston’s TMNT Cereal were undoubtedly more famous, I’d call Crunchabungas the Turtles’ tastiest menu option. Most character-branded snacks merely redress something that already exists in one form or another, but Crunchabungas were 100% custom. There had never been anything exactly like them before, and there hasn’t been anything like them since.
The crunchy morsels looked like pieces of Honeycomb, but had rougher textures. Naturally, they were pizza-flavored, and with the possible exception of Keebler Pizzarias, Crunchabungas were the best pizza-flavored ANYTHING EVER.
Remember, for TMNT fans in the early ‘90s, pizza was practically sacramental bread. The Turtles always made it sound so delicious. If I want to be a Ninja Turtle and my options are “eat pizza” or “acrobatically fight crime,” pass me the oregano and call me Matteo.
The pizza thing carried over to Crunchabungas. They made me feel so much cooler than the average chip.
Over the years, I’ve gotten the impression that not everyone who should remember Crunchabungas does. Hell, even a few appropriately-aged TMNT fans have given me confused deer eyes after I brought them up.
I’ve never understood it. The snacks were probably only around for a year or so, but as I remember it, they were everywhere. Even on television!
The first and only Pizza Crunchabungas TV commercial was produced by Will Vinton Studios, and more or less played out like a California Raisins bit. It’s not a great sign when a thirty second jingle feels like five minutes, but you’ll hum it anyway.
…you could even find Crunchabungas in the Sunday newspapers!
Best as I can tell, the snacks weren’t at all regional. If you’re my age and you never ate Crunchabungas, stop trying to blame outside forces. This is on you. You gotta own it.
As I mentioned, Pizza Crunchabungas were wholly unique. Right now, the only snack that comes even remotely close to them are those nacho cheese “wheels” found inside bags of Cheetos Mix-Ups.
They’re too big and lack that certain pizza zestiness, but if you want some indication of Crunchabungas’ mouthfeel, buy a bag of Mix-Ups and then carefully pick out all of the cheese wheels. Like a freak.
(Sadly, Frito-Lay seems to have discontinued Chester’s Poppers, which were much more similar. They even had the right pizza flavor!)
So now I have a sealed bag of Pizza Crunchabungas. I treat it like a preemie, but secretly want to use it as a pillow.
I love being a turtle.