Friday, March 27, 2009

Fruit Gushers

The entire concept that there is a suspicious liquid-filled fruit snack vacuum-sealed for posterity (expiration date: January 3012) called "Gushers" concerns me as someone now old enough to read ingredient labels with a critical eye. Despite the inclusion of such delicious additives as Maltodextrin and Distilled Monoglycerides, Gushers continues to be a bestselling snackfood. Did you know that these seemingly innocent fruit snacks contain a squirt of an unknown mystery substance? Of course you did, you sicko, you're probably gushing on one right now. Remember the good old days, when the verb "gush" referred to something, I don't know, completely disgusting?

Good Example: "Did you see Joel's leg after he got it stuck in the wood-chipper, Fargo-style? It was gushing blood, man."

Current Example: "Did you try these fruit snacks? Dude, they are, like, gushing with flavor."

I'm not sure anyone can even begin to comprehend how disgusting that is, because so many children of the 90s continue to purchase this tragically bodily-fluid referencing named snack. The worst part is, it's not even a misnomer. You bite into one of those babies, and they literally gush in a way conducive with the Good Example. As if their naming department's creative juices hadn't already been fully drained into these fruit snacks, they actually had the audacity and unoriginality to name of of their flavors "Gushing Grape". What exactly is with the use of flesh-wound originating adjectives to describe the bursting flavor of sugary. nutritionally unsound junk food? If that wasn't enough, there was actually a movement to save the now-retired "Gushing Grape" variety. And they say our generation doesn't take up any worthwhile political causes.

Gushers were the epitome of the anti-natural foods movement espoused by so many children of the 90s. We had learned a trick from food processing companies, and were determined not to pass along this information to our parents for fear of revocation of sweet delicious valueless snacks. During the 90s, food producers were famous for adding the word "fruit" before all of their gel-based snacks to give them the illusion of having some nutritional components in some way related to the fruit family. Never mind that not a single one of these supposed fruit relatives came in a color even remotely reminiscent of one that occurs in nature. There was Fruit by the Foot, Fruit Roll-Ups, Fruit Gushers, Fruit Snacks. Even though they all tasted exactly like one thing and one thing only (read: pure sugar), they claimed to come in a variety of fruit-based flavors.

As children, of course, we could taste the difference between blue and green gushers. If they were billed as blue raspberry (note: this fruit doesn't exist) or green apple (additional note: this fruit is in no way sweet), then we assumed them to be as such. Gushers appealed to our sense of adventure and fun in a manner that still allowed us to be passive snacking coach potatoes; they had outrageously extreme names that in some way implied a sort of accompanying physical activity. However, like the alleged fruit flavor, the mere suggestion of their extremeness was a major component of their marketing campaign.

Really, General Mills? Obviously, someone over at their corporate offices had the X-games announcer on speed dial. Were we really to believe that sitting quietly and eating a liquid-filled fruit snack would be an unforgettably X-TREME experience? It seems that they did, based on the rather questionable names of their flavors; there was Screamin' Green Apple, Triple Berry Shock, G Force Berry Radical, Roboberry Ultra Blast, Fruitomic Punch, and so many other naming atrocities that I prefer to protect the reader from exposure to such out of control fruit snack titles. G Force? What, are they in their food development labs, measuring their Berry Radical flavor with a accelerometer? We can only assume that Fruitomic Punch was developed at their Los Alamos lab. As for Roboberry, are we to believe that this Ultra-Blasting hexagonal treat has some sort of artificial intelligent robotic function? And let's not omit the fact that Triple Berry Shock sounds like a form of cardiac arrest for those with multiple fruit allergies.

Gushers' nonsensical approach to advertising appealed to our desire to enjoy things that were concurrently despised by our parents. However, it's possible that Gushers took it a tad too far in another 90s campaign with their deliberate depiction of a painful and uncomfortable snacking experience:

While bearing in mind that this was in the era of Warheads and Tearjerkers, this commercial in no way represents the product in an appealing manner. If nothing else, it emphasizes the disgust of the children upon consumption.

Gushers were that food that your mother wouldn't buy for you as you begged and threw yourself on the floor of the grocery store, claiming that Susie's mom always lets her have Gushers. The fact that many 90s health-conscious parents deigned to purchase such non-nutritional snacks made them immensely appealing in a want-what-you-can't-have sort of way. Sure, they were by nature repulsive and filled with a mysterious wetness, but they represented so much more. We could care less what our parents had to say about these; we valued them for their out-of-control sweetness quotient and candy-like appeal.

That is, until we went into Triple Berry Shock.


Anonymous said...

probably will give me cancer in ten years from all of the chemicals.. but after living through the 90's, i am going on 25 and still have my office drawers stuffed with Packs of Gushers.

Absolutely unhealthily delicious

Paigealicious! said...

God, these were good. And if you had these in your cold lunch, you were the stuff.

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Dongorongoro said...

I enjoyed reading this, but I can't help but mention: "gush" has never been limited to disgusting, bloody events. Perhaps that's one of the more common uses, but it's always been valid to describe any sudden profusion of liquid. For example, "water gushed out of the broken pipe" or "a gush of oil erupted from the derrick."

It can also be used to describe the use of overly enthusiastic or emotional language, such as "she gushed on and on about how lovely her husband was."

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