(NEXSTAR) — Can you believe it’s been 25 years since the ’90s? Even though some ’90s things — Google, “Friends,” Britney Spears — are still around and popular, others — Discovery Channel Store, Gateway computers, Zima — have been gone so long we’ve all but forgotten they ever existed.
Odds are, however, you might remember the Zima a little bit better than some of the other things listed above. Why? Studies show taste and memory are linked more than you might think, meaning many of us can sharply recall certain flavors and where/when we tasted them. So even though it’s been decades since you last ate Shark Bites, you can probably remember how great the white one tasted.
So don’t have a cow, man. Take a trip down memory lane with this list of ’90s snacks that are totally outtie but were once da bomb dot com.
There might be a slight Mandela effect feeling when you think about Fruitopia, especially if you went to school during the 1990s. The loud and colorful fruit-flavored drink, owned by Coca-Cola, appeared to be everywhere: vending machines, school cafeterias, and commercials.
But today, it’s almost like it never existed.
But it did indeed exist, arriving on the scene in 1994 and pitched as an “alternative” youthful beverage to the clean-cut, “grownup” Snapple, as explained by Atlas Obscura. As part of the beverage’s launch, Coca-Cola even commissioned alt-pop queen Kate Bush to create original music for 10 Fruitopia commercials.
Coca-Cola’s marketing push worked and Fruitopia made a meteoric rise, including tie-ins with video rental juggernaut Blockbuster and TGI Friday’s and a mention on “The Simpsons” (season 10 episode “They Saved Lisa’s Brain”) — but it was a hot fame that quickly fizzled.
Sales started lagging around 1996, despite moves by Coca-Cola to invigorate life in the brand, including attempting to make Fruitopia part of the “nutrition curriculum” at a Wisconsin school district. Finally, Coca-Cola announced it was phasing out Fruitopia in 2003.
Over the years, several “Bring Back Fruitopia” campaigns have popped up on Change.org, including one from 2018 which only just missed its 1,500 signature goal. But for Fruitopia lovers, there’s still some hope: some of Fruitopia’s flavors still exist as Minute Maid flavors available at some U.S. McDonald’s locations. Moreover, if you find yourself in Canada, a handful of Fruitopia offerings are still in production.
You likely haven’t tasted these in decades but you still remember the taste: somewhat like vanilla, but mostly just the taste of sugar. General Mills introduced Sprinkle Spangles, the rainbow sprinkle-coated star-shaped corn puffs, in 1993.
General Mills says at the time, the cereal was the only ready-to-eat cereal to feature sprinkles.
Though the cereal lived a short life (discontinued by 2000), it left behind a lifetime of memories — not to mention several semi-animated commercials featuring the Sprinkle Genie mascot, who was voiced by legendary actor Dom DeLuise. The commercials, which can still be found on YouTube, feature the Genie delivering Sprinkle Spangles to kids looking to liven up their breakfast. “You wish it, I dish it!” the Sprinkle Genie famously said.
Though Sprinkle Spangles have been out of production longer than they were ever in production, General Mills says the cereal remains one of its most requested cereals to resurrect.
Nostalgia for the cereal can also be found on Reddit, where Redditors in the 90s subreddit have sought out taste-alikes. Just five months ago, one user posted to the thread “Finally found a cereal that tastes close to Sprinkle Spangles!” The cereal, which the user claims “is pretty spot on, just less frosting and [smaller sprinkles]” is Post’s Limited Edition Mickey Mouse Club Confetti Cake Cereal. The cereal, which was released as part of Disney’s 100-year anniversary is currently available at many national grocery retailers.
These were like Life Savers but creamy. Get it?
Creme Savers were first brought to market in 1998 by Nabisco and were discontinued in 2011, as reported by Yahoo! Finance. But the swirled hard candies made a return 10 years later, when the Iconic Candy company — which has revived several other defunct candy brands — brought bags of Creme Savers’ strawberries and creme and orange and creme flavors to Big Lots stores. This story has a happy ending since you can still buy them at several retailers.
The Big New Yorker Pizza
This was a huge deal when it happened. You just had to be there.
Pizza Hut debuted its Big New Yorker Pizza all the way back in 1999, promising a 16-inch, foldable pizza pie that commercials (which can be found on YouTube) promised would make even a 15 year-old in Wisconsin feel like Martin Scorsese.
The pizza was intended to mimic the taste and feel of authentic New York pizza, and was made with sweet marinara sauce instead of the sauce used for its regular pizzas — in addition to more cheese. Most New Yorkers would likely say it didn’t even come close to authentic, but for many non-New Yorkers, the Big New Yorker was like a special treat from the big city.
Despite these differences, some online don’t remember it being exactly all that different from Pizza Hut’s other options. Last year, someone asked in the Pizza Hut subreddit, “What was so special about the Big New Yorker?” One user replied: “It was big, idk.”
The pizza was retired sometime in the early 2000s but remained so fondly remembered that one Change.org petition to bring it back received nearly 4,000 signatures, and just last February, Pizza Hut announced the limited return of the nostalgic favorite.
Video reviews of the pizza populated TikTok and YouTube, including this 20-minute review by YouTuber TheReportOfTheWeek, which has over 458,000 views.
Lifesavers makes another appearance on this list, this time with another totally 90s product: Lifesavers Holes. The concept was simple — it’s basically a candy version of doughnut holes.
The holes came in small pill-sized rounds in the same flavors as Lifesavers and were packaged in small plastic tubes. It’s unclear how popular Holes ever were but as Chicago Tribune explains, a 1991 recall less than a year after launch may have stunted the product’s potential. The outlet reported that Nabisco recalled Holes in January 1991 after four incidents of children accidentally swallowing and choking on the package’s flip-top cap.
Thankfully, no one was seriously injured. Business Insider reports that while the product returned to stores with new packaging shortly after, sales never rebounded and the item was pulled from stores soon after.
First introduced by Betty Crocker in 1990, these vanilla cookies disappeared before most millennials were ready to say goodbye to them. Cleverly named after the method of dunking the cookie into frosting — traditionally chocolate, but other flavors were also popular — Dunkaroos are among the most iconic 90s snacks.
Though the products (and their Australian kangaroo mascot Duncan) were popular, they were discontinued in the U.S. in 2012.
Betty Crocker hasn’t gone into detail about why they were discontinued but as Mashed reported in 2020, the fat and sugar content likely made them unpopular among U.S. lawmakers who began increasingly scrutinizing food marketed towards children. Through the ’90s and into the 2000s, the issue of childhood obesity became a hot topic and Dunkaroos’ 120 calories, 4.5 grams of fat and 13 grams of sugar (and no nutritional value) probably didn’t win them any brownie points.
Though Dunkaroos were phased out in the U.S., General Mills (which owns Betty Crocker) continued production in Canada.
While most of us can agree 2020 was a pretty crumby year for everyone, it wasn’t without at least one bright spot: General Mills announced the return of Dunkaroos. This time, there were even extra flavors. And though reviews by people who are now adults were mixed, you can still find some Dunkaroos products available online and elsewhere.
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