Monday, August 23, 2010

80s and 90s Sugar High

Sometimes we all look back and cringe just a bit at the sugary garbage we ate as children. Though it may still hold some nostalgic appeal, it’s tough to defend some of the candy we so adored as kids. You would think we were all spent a significant portion of our youth drifting into diabetic shock--how else to explain the pure sugar our parents pushed down our throats? I can only assume they had no orange juice on hand and had to save our lives with the cunning use of Pixie Sticks. There’s just no other explanation for willingly serving your child the equivalent of the contents of your sugar bowl.

For those of us who now work with or have children of our own, we know the lure of bribery is one we cannot always ignore. Do your homework? Have some Nerds! Clean your room? Help yourself to the Fun Dip. Sure, it’s morally ambiguous, but it works. Sometimes, you’ve just got to give in and let the kids be kids. In this case, that means our parents allowed us to hype ourselves up on a diet of pure sugar only to crash later with unforeseen consequences of immeasurable crankiness. We loved them for that moment in which they relinquished the candy, though, and that’s what really counts.

We ate all sorts of processed sugar masquerading as innocent snacks, but here are a few of the sweetest culprits:


Pixy Stix
Possibly the worst offender, Pixy Stix were composed of little more than colored sugar. Apparently an acceptable snack consists of taking pure sugar and a dab of food coloring and calling it a kid-friendly nosh. The worst of the worst prize went to the giant-size straw version, which we can only imagine contained a full two-pound bag of refined sugar.


Fun Dip

What better to dip candy in than candy? It’s a perfect solution to all your dipping needs. Simply take sugar molded into a solid mass and dip it into its granulated counterpart. Delicious.


Nerds

Nerds may have been glorified color-coated rock candy, but we can award some credit where due for delicious flavor combinations. Nerds conveniently packaged two complementary flavors in a single box, allowing us to ingest our flavor sugar with a well-balanced palette.


Jawbreakers
If you thought it was kind of gross simply to consume sugar-laden hard candy, imagine adding an element of extreme germ exposure to the mix. The problem with Jawbreakers lay in the fact that they were simply too large to be consumed in a single sitting. The result? Days of your giant candy hanging out in a bowl or similar open-air receptacle, collecting delicious dust mite seasoning mix.


Pop Rocks

Pop Rocks have been available since the 70s, but their popularity saw a resurgence in the 80s following their restock on candy store shelves. The candy suffered briefly from the implications of an urban legend that claimed the candy could make your stomach explode when mixed with soda. It can’t, for the record, but it still does work to scare children as effectively as it did back then.


Warheads/Cry Babies


Children have a naturally competitive nature, so it’s little surprise that they became the target market for discomfort-themed food. It may not sound especially pleasant to endure a painfully sour candy throughout the dissolution of its coating, which is because it’s not. At all. Not even a little bit. With children, though, the natural playground spirit of competition made candies like Warheads a huge hit--not to mention a major indicator of elementary school street credibility.


Sour Patch Kids

Sour Patch Kids represent sour flavor in its slightly less repugnant form--as a sugar coating over a chewy fruit snack-type candy. It admittedly burns off a taste bud or two, but it’s a small price to pay for coolness in front of your pro-sour friends.


Push Pops/Ring Pops

Of course, no discussion of sugary 90s candies would be complete without mention of two of the most traded and widely respected hard candies on the playground market: push pops and ring pops. Both caused unnecessarily sticky messes and had limited functionality outside of their general novelty appeal, but who cares? They were delicious in their own sugary way. Though, to be fair, they did give a generation of young girls very unrealistic expectations about the size of a rock they could be expecting on their engagement ring.


It should go without saying that I just can’t discuss 90s-themed sugar highs without playing the eponymous song from Empire Records. All of the sugary sweetness, none of the calories. Enjoy!

21 comments:

Turley Times said...

I'm so glad Fun Dip was included in your list. I remember one time a boy in my class told my best friend and I that the Fun Dip stick was made out of wood and you weren't actually supposed to eat it. Whatever!! I was never a huge fan of the Pixy Stix because I always seemed to choke on the sugar powder whenever I tried to eat them out of that long tube.

Melanie's Randomness said...

I remember one of my friends back in elementary school used to snort pixie sticks. lol. She then cried blue for like 2 days. hehe. I loved fun dip & all these yummy treats!! =)

Lauren said...

LOVE pixy stixs!!!! :)

AdroitObs said...

No mention of candy cigarettes?! They had to be the worst! Delicious sugar sticks that came in a pack & looked just like cigarettes. Eventually, they were banned at my summer camp, although, we were able to get them from the ice cream man once in a while. Happily, I never believed they were an accurate representation of real cigarettes & never took up smoking later. I'm sure some were less lucky.

Jay Amabile said...

Best part about Fun Dip was the vanilla dipping stick that thing was delicious.

Bibliotender said...

Let’s not forget the Sour Gum Balls. Those were so popular that we were able to use them as a form of currency for a while before they were banned from school yards permanently.

Cady cigarettes were awesome. If I remember correctly if you blew out through the ‘cigarette’ it would release a small puff of ‘smoke’ that made us all feel like we were actual smoking.

Laura said...

Remember these?? http://kioskkiosk.com/p/529/Chocolate_Cigarettes

Chocolate cigarettes in sweet packaging! I would spend my candy money on these till my parents banned them for fear I would take up smoking. They were right, but it wasn't the chocolate cigarettes that convinced me, it was cute boys who hung out at the smoke doors in high school...

Emily said...

Sour Patch Kids are still awesome, bit worries me that I have actual cuts in my mouth afterwards if I eat a package too fast...

Anonymous said...

My sisters and I used to put our jaw breakers in Ziploc bags, take them out to the sidewalk and then bash the crap out of them with a hanger.

nikki said...

Remember that one time on The Simpsons when Bart told Rod and Todd Flanders that there's no sugar in pixy stix? My husband and I make that joke so often every time we see pixy stix, that our four year old really truly believes there's no sugar in pixy stix.

Julie said...

I totally forgot about that Pop Rocks urban legend! Scary stuff.

Beth said...

This is off-topic, but...does anyone remember those pencil holders that looked like little rubber toy dinosaurs with spikey backs? They had their mouths wide open and you stuck the pencils in their mouths.

Jen said...

Candy Cigarettes were the worst! The fact that they had some sort of powdered sugar on them that made it look like smoke when you blew...oh geez. I can't believe I ever got away with eating those. (I'm pretty sure my mom confiscated most of my stash)

What about Smarties? Little nuggets of delicious sugar. It was common place in (later) elementary years to dare kids to crush up smarties and snort them. OUCH.

Also, did anyone else used to make their own fun dip by mixing a packet of kool-aid with the required sugar and just toting it around in a plastic bag? Disgusting right? All the kids in my school did that.

Blogging Brittany said...

Jawbreakers and Warheads were a couple of my favorites! I never see the big jawbreakers anywhere anymore. Oh well. Love this post btw. <3

Okie said...

Lovin' the sugar high.

I took my kids to a high school football game last week...the snack bar was selling the jumbo pixie stix and my oldest son bought one...by the end of the night, they were all bouncing off the bleachers insanely. It was crazy nostalgic fun. :)

Dani said...

I loved all the candy...it made me so happy just reading about them!

Thanks!

Lost Star said...

Just stumbled across your blog and the whole first page has me reminiscing! Mostly about sweets and stationary but still! Great stuff!

Samantha said...

I have a big jawbreaker on my desk that I'm working on. It's not cute and speckled, but it's still a big jawbreaker!

Jamie said...

I used to like the Fun Dip. I especially remember dipping that candy stick into the sugary stuff.

Unkle John said...

Ah, Pixy Stix. Diabetes in a straw.

Lauren said...

I loved the giant jawbreakers! I grew up in central Florida, & one of my favorite memories is buying a huge jawbreaker on summer recreation trips to De Leon Springs. I did the same thing Anon mentioned - put it in a ziploc, then beat it into tiny pieces on the driveway when we got home. Even as a kid, I was grossed out by repeatedly licking a huge jawbreaker.

I loved the Warheads too, they were a huge form of currency in the fifth grade! Each flavor had its own value - everyone loved the watermelon ones, but my favorite was black cherry (definitely the sourest)!

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