There’s plenty of nostalgia floating around for 90’s entertainment and what people wore but can we talk about how easy it was to think you were being healthy back then? Wow, no such thing as activated charcoal or macro anything. If it was remotely fruit related or even just shaped like a fruit: healthy. Juice? Of course! Guzzle it like water. Make anything low-carb and it’s totally fine. Ugh, simpler times; but also worse times people because might think they were being healthy, but a placebo could only take a person so far.
They were easy times but also not so great times since health was definitely being compromised by what was put in our snacks. But man, oh man! Our snacks were shaped like animals - what a heyday for food shaped like something else. Of course, parents care more now about their kids getting nutrients than their juice being sparkly... but those days can be looked back on fondly; when food came in a weird little bag and was probably manufactured across the country.
Here are 25 Snacks From The 90's That Parents Thought Were Healthy (But Now We Know Better)
Yogurt is always healthy! Don’t ask me why- let’s just assume a vaguely healthy food can also be rainbow colored and still as healthy, right? Slap an animal on that label! It’s dairy or something- that makes your bones strong. Just guzzle it and don’t question the sugar high you get afterward! Yeah, anything can go in a bottle and have the face of a puppy or whatever- it’s the 90’s! Everyone is blissful and doesn't care about nutrition!
24 Fruit Snacks
Guys, it’s practically fruit. It’s more or less fruit- how do I know? Well, it’s shaped like fruit and it tastes like fruit. Yeah, that just checked off every quality something needs to new to count as fruit. So it’s shaped like a shark - it still tastes like fruits and apparently, there’s .002% real fruit juice in it. So it’s healthy. And not at all candy wearing a fake mustache and an oversized fedora trying to pass itself off as someone else.
Lunchables might just account for about fifteen percent of the world’s trash (that’s not at all a hard statistic- those little tiny meals just came with so much unnecessary packaging that it feels true) but they were fun! Think of those weird flat pizzas! That’s definitely worth the packaging washing up and forming its own neighborhood on the Trash Island that’s consuming the sea. And tiny Snickers bars paired with three pieces of salami- sounds like a nutritious and delicious meal to me.
22 Chef Boyardee
What’s great about Chef Boyardee is that the brand purposely aged him. Most of the soups tasted exactly like ink with meat in it and the rest was probably expired. You’d think Spaghetti-O’s were a perfect idea and yet- wow, what a letdown. And yet even more so, this was a meal in the 90’s. Ugh, we really thought we could have it all, didn’t we?
21 Trix Yogurt
Trix Yogurt is this gorgeous, shining example of a food product being sold in a way that just has nothing to do with food. It’s not just one fun color- it’s two. Do those correspond with flavors? Why do you care- stir it up and get super disappointed when it turns an ugly brown! The 90s were this golden age of packaging and style taking so much precedent over any substance. Which has always been true, but I like to think the 90’s were extra gimmicky.
20 Spreadable Cheese and Crackers
Sure, there are soft cheeses out there that are spreadable for reasons we can all understand. And yes, this cheese is definitely not a very soft Brie. You might even agree that no one could ever tell you what kind of cheese this yellow, vaguely savory paste is even made of. And you wouldn’t be wrong. Man oh man, the 90’s were really full of snacks you were better off not wondering about too deeply.
19 Fig Newtons
Here we go- it’s not tasty enough to really count as a cookie or be comparable to the chocolate chip and it’s definitely not healthy enough to be a serving of fruit! It’s just a weird purple biscuit that’s soft and has one foot in each world. Why do we need to produce millions of these? Because apparently, someone’s eating them! It’s practically a fruit salad!
18 Fruit Roll-Ups
Do you see the word “fruit” on the box? Yeah, right there! No, ignore that it’s a Roll-Up or the previously non-existent “Gusher”. It’s a very sweet and delicious candy thing that’s fruit! Or it was once put next to fruit or it met fruit and got its autograph- no one knows! Is this fruit’s cousin or just it’s a weird friend that hangs around? Who cares! It says fruit somewhere on the box so eat these until you fall over.
17 Animal Crackers
What do you mean, “empty calories”? They’re fun shapes! You can make them roar and play and run around (side note: it is purely cartoonish that a generation of children were given food that really was more entertainment than nutritional and told not to play with it- that’s way too much temptation for an 8-year-old. Animal crackers quite literally came in a little house- what are you doing to us?). They’re just like edible teddy bears and other stuffed animals- that takes the place of nutritional benefit!
16 Kid Cuisine
As a generation, we have no right to criticize the pre-shrunk, weirdly astronaut-like television dinners of the sixties when we touched this weird goop. That’s barely macaroni and cheese- it’s probably got more cardboard in it than dairy. What in the world is a hamburger pizza? There’s an off chance that’s a brownie in the middle but I certainly wouldn’t put any money on that guess. It could easily be some weird dinner roll and I'll lose my twenty bucks.
Truly any amount of dyes and preservatives and sugars could sneak into beverages. They were present in the foods, but they were completely dominating the juices. Did no one ever consider liquid calories? Or did we all just have a weird vendetta against water? And why was the formula for creating a flavor name adding an adjective to a fruit? Why is the cherry chucklin’? Seriously, so many of these products are meant to replace water and it just doesn’t make sense- that’s not a need we should have.
14 Little Debbie's Oatmeal Creme Cakes
Oh, Little Debbie- you sly, sly fox. Was it her Puritan looking hat that convinced us these were healthy or the fleeting mention of oatmeal? Why was no one concerned that a cookie claims to contain creme but doesn’t need to be refrigerated? We truly were so okay with any food just not needing to be stored at a cool temperature and not wondering what chemicals inside of it were doing the heavy lifting. Man, R.I.P. any dairy product stored at room temp.
Two slices of white bread, a little layer of mustard and bologna. How is that not a complete meal? It’s super easy to make when your parents are still at work and the sun has dipped below the horizon so it must be nutritious. If it fills your stomach and can be eaten in front of a television, it’s probably a suitable dinner. This isn’t new information but truly, no one knows what’s in bologna and the people who do wish they didn’t.
12 Nutri-Grain Bars
You beautiful, fruit-flavored little liar. Nutri-Grain bars were the best at pretending they were healthy. There are whole grains! They’re flavored like fruits and maybe even have some real fruit! Yeah, they’re also loaded with as much sugar as an actual candy bar. Ugh, wouldn’t it be amazing to return to this ignorance and just will yourself into believing you’re doing the right thing? What a golden age of lying to yourself and eating whatever was the first thing you unwrapped.
11 Pop Tarts Crunch Cereal
There’s something gorgeous about every candy, every cookie and every pastry having its own cereal. These are treats- not a bare expectation of how to start the day. It’s like how every Disney star needed to have an album and a music career- it’s not done well and it doesn’t make sense, but for some reason it’s now expected. Who can say? Start your day with a ton of sugar and you can record a bad pop record before hitting puberty too! Live the dream!
10 EZ Squirt Heinz Ketchup
Was an army of children protesting outside the food product offices in DC demanding food be more fun? I really can't tell. Why do condiments have to double as finger painting? Or is the hype around ketchup truly at such a low point that people have to be convinced food should do more than fuel your body. That’s probably the most hilarious irony of all these foods; they’re so much better at putting on a show than doing their actual jobs.
It really is difficult to choose one favorite thing about Hi-C when there are just so many gorgeous, unexpected shortcomings (what laws were passed that they had to call it a “citrus drink” for one thing) but possibly the best is the Vitamin C claim. Hi-C having a day’s worth of Vitamin C is used to justify such atrocities about it, like the sugar level. Vitamin C is in almost anything- you can add that stuff to enriched bread so don’t tell me that’s the reason to guzzle Hi-C.
8 Bagel Bites
This is the closest thing to food of any substance at all and you know what- I do want Tony Hawk to crash into my living room with a plate of them! Okay, granted these will fill you up more than Sun Chips. That said- they never cook all the way through or they’re absolutely molten and hurt the roof of your mouth. My point is that they do a slightly better job at being food than the others… but still not a great job.
7 Smucker's Uncrustables
Oh, my sweet, dear and beloved Uncrustables. For a food that’s almost never cooked entirely the way through, you really have a sacred space in my heart. Why is crust so bad? Are we really all that picky? Why are we shaving down sandwiches until they’re the teacup dish size of an Uncrustable? Can we be honest here- Uncrustables are absolutely tiny. You lose more Cals microwaving them than eating them. No, that’s untrue or they’d be slightly healthy and they’re really just pillowy deposits of sugar.
6 Corn Dogs
I want to track down whoever thought hot dogs on their own were too healthy and just bow down to them. We should dip hot dogs in batter and fry that? What kind of forward-thinker are you? Who thought eating a hot dog was too hard and threw that thing on a stick? That’s almost pathological at this point. But so delicious. It’s real beef or something! Sure, it can be for dinner.
5 Dino Nuggets
Can you imagine someone in the 1800s finding out we expect food to be more than filling? It’s fun enough to not be starving and have something in your tummy- you want it to be shaped like the vague idea of an animal you’ve never met? Oh man, the 90’s made such tall demands of food while expecting no nutritional benefit. What a gorgeous, unsustainable relationship.
4 Hot Pockets
You can complain about hurting your mouth by a piping hot ham and cheese hot pocket, but I'd say that the level of risk associated with these is worth the gain. They’re so delicious! Unhealthy, sure, but so delicious. These little guys were totally worth the risk. Sometimes you gamble the wellbeing of the roof of your mouth for a bite of Hot Pocket thirty seconds earlier than you should.
3 Toaster Strudel's
Talk about the refined version of Pop Tarts. It’s just a fact there are too many vowels in strudel or possibly not enough. Justifying feeding children strudel for breakfast was the most 90’s way of misunderstanding how the French eat more bread and cheese than us. This can’t possibly be healthy- if having dessert for breakfast sounds way too good to be true, that’s because it absolutely is. Also, weirdly body positive branding from Pillsbury this early in the game.
Oh, you little yellow box of delights. What a victory it was to find one of you in a lunch bag. After spending so much time considering old snacks, I’m pretty sure these foods existed more to get school children through the day without having a tantrum. All of these foods are diversions. It’s the weirdest example of escapism through food- except it’s not necessarily delicious or leaves you feeling good, it’s just fun to look at.
It feels so true to reality that the can of Spaghetti-O’s is somehow unopened and yet stained by its own broth. And the flavor is meatballs? Okay, that’s more than enough information. It'd be freaky to find out you digested something so bad, but also you probably digested way worse chemicals just by chowing down on these almost thirty-year-old treats.
References: thrillist.com, romper.com, metro.co.uk, inthe90s.com.