Nowadays, it takes a lot of dough to impress our friends. $200 jeans, $100,000 cars; it's awfully tough to attain something covetable. Back in our younger days, however, it was as easy as whatever you had packed in your brown bag lunch. As kids, money wasn't much. We wanted some functional currency. Something we could really barter would, something that had tangible value to us.
That's where school lunches came in. If yours happened to contain a Lunchables box or Snack Pack, congratulations. You were well on your way to your way to lunch trading royalty. It was more than just food, though. The 90s brought an onslaught of sweet beverages that were marketed specifically at youth. These drinks became the stuff that supermarket temper tantrums were made of. Our parents may have aspired to feed us healthily, but they could only hold out so long.
These may not have been the healthiest of offerings, but that didn't stop us from coveting them with ever thirst-unquenched fiber of our beings. Many of them had pretty vague and questionable contents, making them the perfect product for kids. We didn't question, we simply consumed. And if it helped garner us some cafeteria credibility, well then, all the better.
Squeez Its/Kool Aid Bursts
What sort of parent wouldn't want to purchase their kid a six-pack of pure liquid sugar? Especially if they came in super-sleek flexible, squeezable bottle. Everything about it just screamed kid-friendly. The twistable cap with its residual droplets of so-called juice. The faces on the Squeez-It brand bottles. The pure, pure sugar that would no doubt be coursing through our veins at a rapid rate by the time we hit math class. Seriously, I still don't know why my mom refused me these. They seem so full of nature's goodness. What? Chemicals are found in nature. Sometimes.
Speaking of brands who got a lot of flack from parents for their sugar content. These pouches were like liquid crack to children. There was something so satisfying about plunging the pointed end of that little yellow straw into the pre-perforated circle in that shimmering silver pouch. The contents were indiscernible, to say the least. The ads claimed the juice to be "all-natural" but failed to tell us exactly from which fruits these juices were extracted. It didn't matter much, as we were all pretty mesmerized by the Alex Mack rip-off commercials in which active kids morphed into some silvery form of the juice. Sold.
Nothing quite says refreshing beverage like little balls of orbiting gelatin crowding up the bottle. Novelty drinks are one thing, but sometimes manufacturers take it a bit too far. Orbitz were the hottest drink on the market for about five minutes in the mid-90s, proving that your concept doesn't need to be a good one, just a new one. The little suspended balls of gelatin tasted exactly like, well, balls of gelatin. The concept was interesting and kids certainly found them appealing, but it just didn't cut it for the long-term beverage market.
In 1994, Coca Cola saw the success Snapple was having with their fruit and flavored tea beverages and thought they'd cash in on the market. They unleashed Fruitopia, a fruit-like drink aimed at teens and young people. They created original tv ad spots featuring kaleidoscoping fruits, new-agey music, and beatnik-esque poetry. I'm not totally sure what they were going for, but I did drink a lot of Fruitopia so I can only assumed it worked on me.
Snapple was one of the original beverage giants. There was something oddly trendy about these drinks, even though their commercials suggested otherwise. In the 90s, the thrust of their advertising strategy involved use of Wendy the Snapple Lady responding to Snapple fan mail. It was sort of cute and kitschy in a she-sounds-like-all-of-my-Jewish-relatives-with-that-accent kind of way.
Please try to ignore the annoying countdown part of the commercial and focus on the annoying aspects of the commercial itself.
Snapple was (and is) famous for the under-the-lid factoids, though many errors have been found in these facts. I have learned a lot from Snapple over the years, though. When Costco first opened in my hometown my mother would purchase something like 100-packs of Snapple and we'd be forced to drink it nonstop. I know, I know, there are thirsty kids in China. I'm drinking, I'm drinking.
Ah, the classics. Sunny D has been around since the 60s, but there was a marketing push for it in the 90s with ads like this:
And of course, Family Guy in the 90s made a pitch-perfect parody of the 1994 ad. You know, back when the show was still funny.
Libby's Juicy Juice
Okay, I can see that now it's Nestle's Juicy Juice. I will remember it forever forth as Libby's, though
It may not seem like much, but Libby's is something of a juice box advertising genius company. You see, the name sounds familiar to most of us based on their sponsorship of some of our favorite PBS shows, namely the Arthur series. When day after day, we saw our pals at Juicy Juice supporting our favorite shows, we couldn't help but desire our very own juice boxes. After all, it was 100% juice for 100% kids. I guess that means Sunny D is for those of us who were only 2% kids. You know, really grown up for our age.
It definitely is enough to make you nostalgic for the days when your status could be determined by what you pulled out of your lunch box. I've tried bringing Red Bulls and other flashy beverages to meetings at the office, but it just doesn't have the same effect. At least we have our memories.