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.
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.
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.
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.