The synthesized pop music. The colorful neon clothes. The totally tubular language adults needed a key to—like—decipher. We love everything about the ’80s, especially ’80s food and candy. Take a trip down memory lane with some of our gastronomical favorites from the most rad decade you ever lived through.
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Hostess Pudding Pie
Flaky crust, creaming pudding filling, tons of corn syrup and shortening? What didn’t we love about this now-discontinued sweet treat?
Introduced by Pepsi Co. in 1984, and replaced by Sierra Mist in most markets by 2000, Slice was THE fruit-flavored soda to drink in the ’80s.
Smurf-Berry Crunch Cereal
The only thing better than watching the Smurfiest show around on Saturday mornings was sitting down to do it with a bowl of Smurf-Berry Crunch in your lap. Total kid bliss.
Your kids enjoy theirs with every topping under the sun. But when FroYo debuted on the scene the flavors were the main (and only) feature, and TCBY was where you went to get it.
Pizza in the morning, pizza in the evening … you remember it. While Bagel Bites were largely popular well into the ’90s, they had their birth in the good ole ’80s, and we’re darn proud of that. There was nothing quite rushing home, popping some Bagel Bites in the oven, and subsequently burning the roof of your mouth with piping hot cheese.
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There was no shortage of sugary drinks in the ’80s, but none so exciting as Hi-C’s repackage of their Citrus Cooler into Ecto Cooler. You could watch your fave episodes of The Real Ghostbusters and sip the drink in all its glory.
You could never quite figure out what this guy was and why he wasn’t the star of one of your favorite video games. These are just a few of many deep kid thoughts you had over bowl after bowl of this crunchy corn cereal.
Push Pop Candy
The original packing for this popular ’80s candy looked like it walked right off the set of Saved by the Bell. But you liked it because the cool checkerboard wrapping matched your Vans.
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You probably passed by this one when you were rummaging through the freezer on the hunt for popsicles. But this diet food fad of the ’80s wasn’t lost on moms.
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They may not have looked like much, but Fruit Wrinkles were a pretty tasty snack for the ’80s. A sister product to the famed Fruit Roll-Up, the bite-sized bits were supposed to look like wrinkly fruit.
A true cross-marketing colossus, Pac-Man cereal fed ’80s kids’ Pac-Man fever—literally. Between the cereal, the song and the game, kids could eat, sleep and breathe Pac-Man… for a few years anyway.
Jello-O Pudding Pops
As if pudding wasn’t awesome enough already, the marketing gurus over at Jell-O made it into a popsicle in the ’80s. Rich, creamy and touted as healthy, these were a go-to fave any time of year.
Squeezeits made lunch and snack time worth it. The plastic, juice-filled bottles came in tons of flavors and were guaranteed to stain your mouth, all while giving you a sugar high.
Cool Ranch Doritos
Everyone’s favorite salad dressing that became a drench-everything-in-it dip became a tortilla chip. Ad spokesman Jay Leno encouraged our obsession with the tagline: “Crunch all you want, we’ll make more.”
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a 1980s kid who doesn’t know the peppy jingle set to pop music: “I believe in Crystal Light, cause I believe in me.”
A lunchbox staple and must-have, we folded, twisted and tucked the sticky, chewy fruit roll-ups into the right size to stick it to the roof of our mouth for hours after lunch ended. It really did make fruit fun.
Dr. Pepper Gum
No soda machine? No problem! One bite into a Dr. Pepper piece of bubble gum sent a burst of the spicy cola out of the gum’s liquid center to quench your thirst.
So what if they turned your fingers bright orange and left a cheesy residue all over your hands––Planters Cheez Balls were an easy, airy snack and they came in giant canisters which meant no fighting with your siblings over who got to eat the most.
Your unassuming toaster oven became an instant bakery when you popped in a frozen Toaster Strudel and out came a flaky pastry filled with warm fruit goodness that you got to top with sugary icing. Breakfast was served indeed.
Mr. T Cereal
You pitied the fool who didn’t get to start the day with a big bowl of Mr. T cereal. Let’s face it—we all just wanted the stickers inside the box.
Big League Chew
Move over candy cigarettes, kids of the ’80s got more than a mouthful pretending Big League Chew was tobacco. How many of you actually packed an entire bag of the shredded gum into your lower lip?
Anyone else in awe that the sweet shell of an ingenious Gobstopper changed colors multiple times before arriving at its sour center? Entertainment for hours.
If kids today only knew how hard it was to get the straw into the original packaging of a Capri Sun. But the Wild Cherry juice in the metallic pouch really added some punch to school lunches and snack time.
In retrospect, Lunchables were like the PlanetBox of the ’80s. Circular disks of bologna, squares of neon orange cheese, crackers to stack ’em on and a dessert and drink all tucked perfectly secure into their own compartments.
Ahhh, Handi-Snacks. We all pretended to be master chefs spreading that hard blob of cheese ever so gently across a buttery cracker without breaking it. In an effort to be eco-friendly, the red stick is no longer included, but a petition is trying to bring it back.
Diet Coke first hit the scene in 1982 and one or both of your parents probably bought it by the case and lived on it as some sort of magical elixir.
Keebler’s Magic Middles
The cookie was elevated to an art form in Keebler’s Magic Middles which thrilled us all with the chocolatey frosting inside. Two desserts in one.
Jolly Rancher Fire Stix
More like a punishment than a treat, Jolly Rancher Fire Stix sticks set your mouth on fire—and cut your tongue once you sucked on them long enough to turn them into a sharp shard.
Sara Lee All Butter Pound Cake
If you ate all your veggies, you were promised a thick slice of thawed Sara Lee All Butter Pound Cake that every kid of the ’80s came to know and love as an after-dinner dessert.
Hot Pockets were the ultimate DIY after-school snack. You slid the pizza into that silver sleeve from the space age and watched mind-blowing microwave technology do its thing.
You may still have one of these teeny-tiny pebble-like candies stuck in one of your molars today. You got to pour them straight in your mouth––and if you were really crazy, you slid open BOTH sides of the box to get a mix of each flavor at once.
The decade started with a real bang in 1981 when General Mills got the first patent for a microwave popcorn bag. Sure, it wasn’t the perfect pop every time, but the convenience factor outweighed the frustration of unpopped kernels.
––Allison Sutcliffe, Beth Shea & Karly Wood