Hot damn! It’s been a long time since I ranted about my irrational nostalgia. Previously I’ve touched on amazing sci-fi shows, brilliant dinosaur-related stuff, and videogame-related things. Today’s topic is the diet of delicious yet deadly foods that could be found in that wonderful decade.
Speaking of dinosaurs and videogames, there seemed to be an awful lot of foods based around those themes. Turkey Dinosaurs were, quite frankly, one of the most wonderful things ever created by man – or in this case, Bernard Matthews. Breadcrumbed turkey meat (at least it said it was turkey, it could have been anything, including velociraptor) shaped as either a Stegosaurus or Tyrannosaurus Rex, they were a part of my regular diet and made me realise that if I had ever been stuck at Jurassic Park, it wouldn’t be the dinosaurs hunting me for a tasty snack. Bernard Matthews made plenty of exquisite processed foodstuffs when I was a wee lad, for instance Turkey Twizzlers and Drummers, but the dinosaurs were, obviously, the best of the lot.
Meanwhile, Sonic the Hedgehog was one of the many cartoonish mascots looking for further ways to burrow into the social subconscious. I remember the Sonic crisps and the tiny biscuits that were available, but after checking this lovely website I suddenly remembered the variety of other blue hedgehog-related foodstuffs. Sega weren’t alone, though. Tom & Jerry and Dennis the Menace had make-your-own cupcake sets with edible paper transfers to add your favourite characters. I recently checked and found that these are still ruddy available, and may well need to spend some unnecessary cash to get them. Not all of the tie-in foods were as wonderful though. I don’t think I’d rush out to Tesco if I found out you could get Mr Blobby’s Pink Lemonade again…
To be honest, there were plenty of foodstuffs that weren’t really food. Other than the obvious marketing gimmicks, we had the ‘Toys & Food’ brigade. Best of the bunch were the edible treats that actually came with toys. Of course there were the Kinder Eggs, scrumptious Kinder chocolate with a fairly mediocre toy inside – although I will never hear a bad word about their range of turtle toys, those things were amazing. But even better was the Onken FruFoo range. It was a kid’s yogurt that inexplicably came with a toy alien thing. I had a huge collection of the toys and every single one was a surreal monster with an extremely derp expression.
Here’s a German advert for them:
Then there were those foods that were actually just edible toys. To this day I still maintain that Cheestrings had more in common with rubber than they did with dairy. Dairylea Lunchables weren’t much better, adding stale crackers and ‘meat’ into the mix. Fiendish Feet were yogurts with a horror theme and spooky faces on the side. Transform-A-Snack combined Transformers with Monster Munch to create corn-based crisps that didn’t really work and created an awful, albeit delicious, mess. Melody Pops were the perfect treat for a passive-aggressive kid, allowing you to not only get sugary crap all over the house but also create a piercing, evil sound wherever you went.
Not all of our imports were as healthy as FruFoo, though. The 90s was also an era of nutritionally-dubious US products. Mountain Dew hit the shelves, was amazing, and was promptly taken away again. Lucky Charms had the same fate. It was almost as if the British food standards agency was scared of an outsider coming in and taking away the ‘mental child creator’ crown from the likes of Tizer and Cocoa Pops. Meanwhile, Nerds and Atomic Fireblasts were fighting it out to see which candy could give British kids diabetes at a quicker rate. Neither of them were taking the appropriate approach though. Why appear to be dangerously additive-filled when you could sneak into shopping trolleys as a healthy alternative? That’s what Sunny Delight did, and its strategy was perfect. I applaud you, you sugar-filled monster. Hell, look at the adverts:
Finally, a few random shout-outs. Hedgehog Flavour Crisps were weird and made Walker’s Cajun Squirrel seem tame (also, they seriously existed). Space Raiders were excellent value for money once, even though they tasted like the Monster Munch that couldn’t make the cut because of a slight resemblance to polystyrene. Starburst will always be Opal Fruits in my heart, and under their new name they were never as good. And last but not least, I will happily forgive Findus for any horse meat in their meals because they gave us the wonder of Crispy Pancakes.
‘Til next time!