Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ode to Discontinued 90s Food Products

Note: this image contains general snacks, not necessarily discontinued ones. It serves an illustrative purpose and therefore prompts no unnecessary mourning of delicious favorites like Combos and Hot Tamales

We all have a soft spot for the snacks we consumed during our formative years. In some cases, we may be left with actual bodily soft spots due to the sore lack of nutritional snack options. Regardless of their questionable merit, we craved these snacks with near-religious zeal. We can only now understand why our parents shook their heads in disbelief as we placed these items into our family's grocery cart; many of these foods, while admittedly delicious, were otherwise completely insane as concepts.

I suppose it's possible that major food production firms suffered from large-group drug use during product conception meetings, as that's probably the only passable explanation for any of these items making it past the, "Call me crazy, but I have an idea" stage. Under usual circumstances, the assembled group of professionals would agree that yes, that was indeed a crazy idea, and proceed with their days unaffected by the interaction.

Perhaps the 90s were especially generous to creativity. More likely, it was a time of shameless one-upmanship in marketing and reformulations of products. Regardless of the reasons, as children we were more than happy to reap the rewards of food companies' lapses in judgment. Though we may mourn their loss, their memories will forever represent to us a time when haute cuisine meant a good gimmick and a lively spokescartoon.

Orbitz


You know, I always dreamed of drinking a lava lamp. When told they were horribly toxic, I happily settled for the next best thing. The fact that this soft drink ever went into full-scale production is at minimum mind baffling. How exactly would one go about pitching an idea like this to the kind people at Clearly Canadian*?

"Feel free to stop me at any point if this sounds a little iffy, but what if we took our existing product, let it go flat and decarbonated, and then floated little mysterious balls of unidentifiable goo in them? I know what you're thinking, that sounds delicious, and I'm going to go out on a limb here and agree. These little gummy globulations are just the thing to put Clearly Canadian on the map. The beverage company, that is, I'm pretty sure the actual Canada is already on there in full clarity."

The gelatin balls were technically suspended by means of gellan gum, but no scientific explanation can play down the eeriness of these frightening floaters. I used to love these drinks, but in retrospect it seems more likely that I like the idea of them more than the actual taste. The drink itself was fairly benign, but it was pretty unpalatable to swallow little slimy orbs without fair warning of their entry into the mouth region.

Conveniently, Clearly Candian chose to blame you, the consumer, for the discontinuation of Orbitz. Apparently, we as beverage drinkers were unsure whether to eat, drink, or discard these balls. The company's investment in the beverage was luckily not for naught: they made a pretty penny selling their website domain name to the flight search engine of the same name.


Rice Krispie Treats Cereal





It's tough to determine whether or not these are indeed discontinued, but if still in production they are certainly in limited retail release. In the case of Rice Krispie Treats Cereal, at least the Kelloggs' people could justify this product with its sheer efficiency. Factories were already producing full size Rice Krispie Treats squares, so theoretically all that had to be done was breaking the treats into smaller bite-size pieces and adding an additional word to their cereal box packaging.

We all knew Rice Krispie Treats as a dessert, so imagine our surprise to find them amongst healthy fare in the cereal aisle. I took a shine to these immediately, though in reality it was probably the novelty of the product that appealed to me over its inherent value. Either way, I knew I loved Snap, Crackle, and Pop but hated plain old Rice Krispies, so I was glad to see my favorite characters branch out into more sugary territory.


Life Savers Holes



Again, this seems like a fairly accountable use of company resources. They're already making the candies, and we can only assume they're discarding millions of holes yearly to produce their trademark shape. Why not sell the contents of their factory trash? Unappealing as that may sound to us, they managed to market it in a way that convinced us that we were somehow getting something different while we were clearly just getting more of the same but in a new hard plastic container.

In the 90s, it was popular to reformulate popular foodstuffs into smaller, cuter, more animated versions of itself. Lifesavers Holes--and later M&Ms minis--featured ads depicting tiny candies frolicking carefreely, enjoying their tiny lifestyles. The Lifesaver Hole ads were actually a Pixar endeavor, which was pretty fancy shmancy for the time in terms of expensive advertising at the time.

Lifesavers Holes was able to capture an audience for a short period of the time as a result of flooding the candy marketplace with advertising, but kids caught on quickly that these were pretty much the exact same thing only less satisfying.


Surge



In the 90s, there was a huge movement toward marketing things as "X-treme!" Extreme sports were on the rise, and apparently required some sort of tie-in promotional beverage to endorse this madcap lifestyle. Major proponents of this extreme way of life spent much of their days skateboarding, wearing backwards baseball caps, mainlining adrenaline, and shotgunning cans of Surge.

Surge was marketed as X-treme! on the basis of its caffeine content, though under closer examination it was apparent that soft drinks like Mountain Dew actually contained higher levels of caffeine. In reality, the main thing that was extreme about the beverage was its repellent electric green color and coordinating logo. Unsurprisingly, parents often vetoed Surge as a source of unnecessary hyperactivity, making it all the more appealing to us. My friends and I used to have Surge-chugging contests at slumber parties, leading us to eventually have to downgrade these fiestas to simply "parties." After downing a 2 liter of Surge, sleep wasn't really an option.


Oreo-Os

Ah, dessert as breakfast. It was a beautiful concept, and kids were quick to hop on the cookies-in-the-breakfast-bowl bandwagon. The cereal's tagline, "The delicious taste of Oreo now in a fun-to-crunch cereal!" was unlikely to pull in any sort of parental approval ratings. The sugar content was outrageously, unjustifiably high, making them incomparably attractive to children while remaining the bane of every parent's trip to the grocery store. Sure, the things probably had a vitamin or two infused in for good measure, but in general this was really just a matter of cookies for breakfast.

Like its chocolate chip rival, Cookie Crisp, the cereal was a bit of a letdown on the cookie-likeness front. Cookie cereals always seemed to posess some form of unfortunate bitter aftertaste and abrasive texture. The Oreo people probably should have taken a page from the Rice Krispie Treats book and just crushed up some of their original product and called it a day. Unfortunately, this tampering with the sacred Oreo formula yielded less than oreo-tastic results. They did, however, later come out with the dubiously named "Extreme Creme" version which to its credit contained ample marshmallows. Unfortunately, conceptual cereal could only go so far without substantial taste credibility. Alas, it was adios to the O's.



Of course, some 90s snacks undoubtedly deserve further investigation and thus have been awarded full length posts for their sheer ridiculous existence. Luckily, many of them were featured here on Children of the 90s before I had any readers, so just think of it as new bonus reading material to munch on. Just remember to breathe a sigh of relief as a few of these are still around:


*Considered kind on the basis of Canadian citizenship alone.

38 comments:

ChinkyGirLMeL said...

Oh yeah! Life Savers and Rice Krispies! What a treat! I collected the orange and yellow life savers and gave away the other colors since I wasn't too fond of the other flavors. hehehehe. =)

marathoner81 said...

Holy cow...I only vaguely remember one of these things...the lifesaver holes. Why don't I remember anything else. The late 90's got kind of wild for me. We'll just leave it at that.

Sadako said...

I remember Dunkaroos! I had them a few years ago just b/c I could. Although they weren't as good as I thought they'd be.

Katie said...

Rice Krispie Treats Cereal and Surge were my breakfast of choice during middle school!!

Sally-Sal said...

I loved Surge. Even it's swampy green color.

Needs Help said...

Omg! You always remind me of stuff I have totally forgotten about too funny! I'll definitely let you know when I get the etsy store up, I've been working on jewelry and the necklaces are pretty cool if I do say so myself :)

CTB said...

Oh how I miss Rice Krispie Treats cereal! Sooo good!

Kristina said...

Yes, lifesaver holes were great!

Badass Geek said...

I still think Orbitz were effin' awesome.

Couture Carrie said...

Fabulous blog!
Hot Tamales were one of my main food groups in the 90s!

xoxox,
CC

Kay said...

One of my students was eating Dunkaroos in class the other day and I nearly keeled over.

On an entirely unrelated note, I have a 90s phenomenon that I think needs blogging: Hamster Dance.
It was '98, but I think it counts.

for the love of pictures said...

I had a flashback to each of these as I was reading :) I think the only ones I actually really enjoyed were the Rice Krispie Treats cereal. That was so delicious.

Orbitz always freaked me out. There should never be 'things' floating in my drink ;)

Jessica said...

I don't miss any of those, I just want my tan M&Ms back!

Andhari said...

No matter how old I get, I will never say no to oreos in ANY form. They just do the tricks for me. Yum.

Jessica said...

OMG! I loved rice crispy treat and oreo o's cereal...and i almost forgot about them!

Muppet Soul said...

Why do I not remember that Oreos guy? Did I somehow miss that?!

Nic said...

We didn't have any of those over here :(
In fact, I don't recognise any of the sweets in that top pic.

Laura said...

One of my favorite lifesaver commercials was of a father and his daughter. They are watching the sunset while sucking on a lifesaver. The little girl turns to her father and says, "Do it again Daddy." This post is 90's priceless.

Lindsay said...

Oh my gosh the Oreo-O's! I loved those things!

LiLu said...

I still get "dessert for breakfast" cereal once a year, at my grandmother's house for Christmas.

A tradition I will continue until my teeth fall out, and beyond. :-)

Cee said...

I loved the oreo-os...so awesome

Ella Everywhere said...

omg i forgot all about the oreo-o's cereal!

WendyB said...

I was JUST in someone's office and s/he had an old bottle of Orbitz! I have to think of who it was...I'm senile!

Trixie said...

You brought up Koala Yummies again and I still haven't had any! I think I still have a bottle of Crystal Pepsi around somewhere. I remember how we all thought it was so cool.

I think they still make Gushers though. My friend was talking about eating them the other day.

Lana said...

surge was way better than jolt!!

Elizabeth Marie said...

Rice Krispy Treats Cereal!!! OMG. I remember it well, we were good friends. I havent been able to find it...I miss you, I love you...

Thank you so much for your kind words yesterday. Really meant a lot!! XOXO

Shannon said...

I found Dunkaroo's on Amazon! Not even kidding.

Adventures in Newlywed said...

I distinctly remember throwing up after drinking my first Orbitz... not the most pleasant memory :)

Hollywood Sucker said...

When Surge launched they set up these free vending machines at my high school. But they would only dispense soda after the final bell rang at 2:15pm. I guess the fact that we weren't allowed to get hopped up on it during school hours is an good indication of it's effect on teenagers.

White Rabbit said...

Americans might not remember these but ...

I miss Cadburys Top Deck and Nestle Vice Versa

I'd kill a man for a Top Deck*





* Legal Note: This may be a lie employed for dramatic effect

Anonymous said...

There still is rice krispy treat cereal!!!! they will sometimes have it in miejers in michigan, and apparently it is in abundance at Michigan State University.

melissa_poland said...

You can still buy the Rice Krispie Treats cereal from Amazon.com. I've never had it....

DaughterofJubal said...

So...does anyone remember Crunch Tators? They were these chips that had the effect of a Lay's type potato chip, but WAY crunchier and WAY deliciouser?! There was an alligator on the package in front of a camp fire? May be going out on a limb here...

Anonymous said...

noooooo! Oreo-os!
I feel like I've lost something great.
That's it, I'm hopping into my time machine. What do you guys want me to bring back for you?

poorogue said...

Surge and Oreo-O's... everything else I'm drawing a blank!

alisonfdgdfgdfgf said...

i luv the 90s dood

alisonfdgdfgdfgf said...

90s!!!!!!!!!!! makes the best boys.. such as one direction were born in the 90s i love them so much. NO JIMMY PROTESTED. there all amaZAYN and extrodanHARRY<3 pheniNIALL<3 i love 1d<3333333333333

c5a5e52e-4007-11e2-9c2f-000f20980440 said...

Surge still exists under it's original European name Urge. You have to import it, but that's a small setback for soda aficionados.

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