How I Spent My Childhood: Foods Long Gone, Part 1 of 2
So here we are again for another trip down my memory lane. On this trip, I'm feeling nostalgic for some foods that are no longer available, so let's all grab our sporks and dig in!
Morning Funnies Cereal
Morning Funnies Ceral was produced by Ralston Cereals in 1988 & 1989. It was a super sweet cereal, bright in color and shaped like smiley faces.
The taste and shape wasn't the hook for this cereal though.....the box was. The box featured comic strips on the front and back panels. In addition, the back of the box featured a full size flap that opened up and featured even more comics on the inside. The company actually won an award in 1988 for "innovative packaging" for the fifth panel design.
The comics featured were Dennis the Menace, Beetle Bailey, Hagar the Horrible, Hi and Lois, Family Circus, Luann, Marvin, Funky Winkerbean, and What A Guy!.
The cereal was canceled in 1989 due to poor sales. The ultra sweetness of the cereal turned off parents, and the lack of fresh cartoons turned off the kids.
From my own experiences, I remember seeing the commercials for the cereal and feeling that I just had to have it. For one thing, it was part of my morning ritual to read the funny pages from the newspaper while I ate breakfast every morning, so this cereal seemed right up my alley.
My mother bought just one box. She rarely went for gimmicky cereal like this, but caved under my constant pressure. I don't remember what the cereal tasted like, but I do remember enjoying reading those comics on the box.....at least for the first two or three mornings. After that, the novelty faded and I was back to reading the fresh daily comics from the newspaper.
It seemed like a good idea at the time, but quickly fizzled in execution. However, I would love to see it back on the shelves at the local grocer just to give it one more shot.
Dr. Pepper Gum
While doing a little research before writing this article, I found out that you can purchase Dr. Pepper Gum today from several online vendors. However, upon reading the reviews, people say that it doesn't taste like the great Dr. Pepper gum of old.
In the late 80's, we were drowning in a see of gum choices as kids. In those days, gum still came in packs of trading cards, it came all shredded in a pouch meant to resemble chewing tobacco, heck....it even came in a round stick wrapped in paper to mimick cigarettes!
But a new fad hit the shelves when bubble gum with liquid centers hit the market. I don't recall what the first gum was to showcase the new feature, but I DO remember the first one to make a "splash", and it was Dr. Pepper gum. It was a simple concept. It was gum that tasted like Dr. Pepper, with a liquid center that also tasted like Dr. Pepper. What a concept.
As a kid in those days, one of the few things your life revolved around was soda, and all of a sudden we had a gum that tasted like soda! Life couldn't get much better. For those of you who have read my previous articles, you'll know that my parents rarely felt the need to buy into gimmicks or fads, but when it came to this gum, they were both happy to pay for a pack of it whenever I would throw it up on the checkout counter.
Maybe one day, some company will get it right and start a new wave of liquid center bubble gum. Until then, I'll just have to chew on the memories.
McDonald's has tried a lot of off the wall menu items in their time. Some are fondly remembered, and some are still scorned to this day. But a few products have come along that most of the population totally missed out on, and McPasta was one of them.
In 1990, McDonald's decided they would try to add some entrees to their menu that weren't hamburgers or chicken nuggets. They dreamed up this concept of pasta dishes and roasted chicken, and felt sure it would be a big hit. Before they released it to the masses though, they went the test market route.
A selected area in New York was selected, as well as chain of franchise stores in Northeast Tennessee. Fortunatey, I lived in a part of southern Virginia where that franchisee had two locations, and put the product in those two stores as well. What they offered was a selection of Spaghetti, Spaghetti with meatballs, Lasagna, and Fettucini Alfredo. Each dish came with a garlic bread stick as well. They also decided to offer roasted chicken legs as a side item.
To be honest, the only one I ever tried was the Fettucini.....and I thought it was awesome! For the six month period they were testing the line, it's what I ordered on every trip to the golden arches. My mother loved it too, and since my dad was out of town a lot, she felt it was easier to just run to McDonalds and pick up a couple of Fettucinis for the two of us instead of cooking, so I got to have the pasta goodness a lot.
Imagine my sadness one day when I went to order my favorite dish only to be told it was no longer available. I listened in horror as the lady at the counter relayed the info to my mother and I that it had been a test product, and she had no way of knowing if it would be added back to the menu or not.
As the weeks and months passed by, I would continue to inquire about it on every trip to Happy Meal land. And every time I was disappointed. After a while, I came to the sad conclusion that it wasn't coming back at all.
For years I reminisced about it, only to find it strange when other people had no idea what the heck I was talking about. For the longest time I couldn't figure out why no one had even heard of it. Then one day it popped into my brain and I searched it out on the internet. It was there that I discovered that it had been a test product with a very limited release, and that's why everyone thought I was crazy when I would bring it up.
To this day I miss that Fettucini. But now I look back and realize that the stars were aligned perfectly for me to even have gotten to experience it in the first place. As they say, it is better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all. But for those people who say that, to them I say they never loved McDonald's Fettucini Alfredo.
KFC's Chicken Littles
Last year, in the background the tv was on and my daughters were watching some show that I usually care nothing about. The show went to commercial and I carried on with what I was doing. All of a sudden I was hit by a bolt of delicious lightning! For on the tv behind me, I was hearing a commercial for KFC's return of the Chicken Little sandwiches!!! I bolted to the tv just to see and hear the end of that commercial that advertised the return of the greatest hand held chicken sandwich in history. I immediately started making plans to visit my local KFC to once again dine on this fine treat.
I was horribly disappointed when I unwrapped the precious sandwich that I had longed for for many years. What is this? This isn't a Chicken Little. What kind of sick joke are these people trying to pull here?
You see, in the 80's, when they were known as Kentucky Fried Chicken and not the metro sounding KFC, they had the perfect sandwich. It was the size of a common White Castle Slider or Krystal Burger. In fact, it featured the same kind of bun. It had a simple thin chicken patty on it along with a pickle and a thin spread of mayo. It was simple. It was perfect.
As I've stated before, my mother and I ate out a lot when my dad traveled. At the time these were in stores, I want to say you could pick them up at 3 / $1.00, which made it a simple choice to say yes to for my mother.
I had these little squares from heaven every couple of weeks. If she mentioned in the morning that we would be stopping by there in the evening, I would count down the minutes until I held them in my hand. But much like my disappointment with the McPasta, I was saddened one day when I ordered them and was told they were no longer available. I didn't dwell on it though, and figured they would be back one day.
That day came last year, and led to the story I started this tale off with. The new chicken little is on a different bun, features a different cut of chicken, and no where near the super cheap price you could once attain them at.
While doing some research, I learned that several independently owned KFC franchises in the country still sell the original. I myself travel a lot these days, and am always on the lookout for one of these stores.
Keebler Magic Middles Cookies
Of all the discontinued foods out there, this one seems to draw the most response. Heck, there are even several online petitions calling for Keebler to bring them back.
The cookie was simple. It was a shortbread cookie, with a gooey chocolate center. They debuted either in the late 80's or early 90's, and were gone from the shelves by the mid-90's. When pressed on why they cancelled the cookie, Keebler only responded that they switched the machines used to make them over to another cookie line.
I used to pack these cookies in my lunch box for school, and was the envy of all my friends. You remember those days? Kids trading out parts of their lunch for parts of their friend's lunches? Those Magic Middles were incredible trade bait, but I never traded them. I would entice people with a trade offer, then renig on the deal and watch their bottom lip quiver as I ate them in front of them. Mean, but true.
Well, this article is already running long, so I'll save the other five items on my list for next week. Join me again then when I'll turn back the clock and give thoughts and memories on a long lost burger from McDonalds, a frozen treat, some soda, another much missed cereal, and a south of the border item with a storied history.
And please, if you have memories of these items, good or bad, please leave a comment below. I always like reading other peoples memories of items I loved.
Thanks for taking your time to spend with me walking down memory lane. Until next time, best regards.