Remember when Toys “R” Us gave out adorable cardboard boxes filled with free samples? You should, because this marks the fourth time I’ve written about them. If you’re new, this old newspaper ad should bring you up to speed:
That particular ad promoted what I believe was Toys “R” Us’s first “R” Treat box, from 1989. I’ve already reviewed that one, along with another from 1992, and still another. Seems I’ve spent a concerning amount of time writing about candy samples from 25 years ago.
Every time TRU dusted off the promotion, the basic tenets were the same: Little boxes stuffed with stuff, available for free to anyone who visited a Toys “R” Us store. (You were supposed to bring a coupon, but as I recall, they gave no shits if you didn’t have one.)
Since the contents typically amounted to sample-sized bags of chocolate and maybe a free toothbrush, it’s hard to explain why kids went so wild for these boxes. And hey, I dunno, maybe they didn’t. But I sure did.
And the point of rehashing things you’ve already read about on Dino Drac? Well, that. I’ve found another one! From 1994, this “R” Treat box helped promote The Flintstones movie, with images of John Goodman and Dino littering each of the pentagonal box’s sides. That alone wouldn’t be enough to merit a fourth tribute, but wait until you see what’s inside!
Yes, those are the original contents — all of the precise things that 1994’s TRU customers would’ve received in their boxes. A bag of Crunch ‘n Munch! A pack of tissues! Four Rain-Blo gumballs!
Okay, so not everything was a home run, but that wasn’t the point. The sum was worth more than the parts, and walking out of Toys “R” Us with a boxful of freebie nonsense made me feel every bit as good as walking out with a new Ninja Turtle. I mean, so long as we’re not talking about Donatello.
Some of those items are more valuable now than they were in 1994. This presumes that you equate sealed bags of discontinued candy with limitless joy. Here are the highlights:
The clear star of the box is this sample-sized package of Amazin’ Fruit gummy bears. Oh how I pity anyone who didn’t grow up on these.
For a time, Amazin’ Fruit was the king of the gummy bear market, and as much as I’d like to attribute that to the flavor, it really had more to do with the incredible television commercials, which featured anthropomorphized gummy bears doing a gelatin conga line while singing one of the history’s best-ever ad jingles.
Kids always tended to see “life” in their gummy bears, but with Amazin’ Fruit, it was taken to a new extreme. Had they not been so crazy delicious, we would’ve let them live on forever as tiny action figures. I can’t be the only one who used to try to avoid eating just one bear, so I’d have my version of Jiminy Cricket to shoot the shit with.
Given that they were basically graham crackers, Teddy Grahams were another unlikely success story. As was the case with Amazin’ Fruit, we can again thank a ragtag bunch of dancing bears.
Teddy Grahams snacks are still around, of course, but this sample bag is a nice reminder of the original logo and packaging style. It’s amazing how many memories something so simple can conjure. I look at that bag, and I suddenly see myself at the 5th grade book fair, counting change so I can buy Garfield Chews the Fat.
Most “R” Treat boxes included one tangible “get” for the kids who couldn’t be persuaded with promises of five gummy bears. This time, it was a strange Hawaiian Punch audio cassette, called Sonic Adventure.
Click the play button up there to hear the first side of the tape. If you’re able to make sense of it, share the wealth!
From what I can tell, it’s Punchy jumping from TV show to TV show while being chased by odd villains. Sort of like how Gumby dove into a book whenever the Blockheads showed up, but way louder, and somehow maddening. Listening to this tape is a great way to prep for your patented post-saturation chamber Geoffrey Rush impression. Two people will get that, but it’s still worth it.
As I recall, this same tape was also available as a mail-away offer from Hawaiian Punch directly, so if you remember the cassette but never partook in TRU’s godly sample boxes, that’s why.
The kid version of me couldn’t have been too interested in the various coupons, but I get a big kick out of ‘em now. If you skip past the ones for spot cleaners and Tylenol, some of them are seriously frame-worthy.
I’m especially fond of the Nabisco coupon shown at bottom. Man, I’d totally forgotten that Snorkels cheese snacks were a thing. Those were AMAZING. For a brief while, I even preferred them to Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, which I’ve long said would be my last meal should I ever find myself condemned by the state.
If you enjoyed this post, good news! I’ve dug up some other old “R” Treat boxes, and will be writing about them in the coming months.
If you didn’t enjoy this post, bad news! I’ve dug up some other old “R” Treat boxes, and will be writing about them in the coming months.
PS: My latest Star Wars piece is up, this time covering Kenner’s ancient lightsaber toys. While crude, they will forever charm me more than today’s slicker versions. You can keep up with the other things I do by following me on Twitter, too!