Recently I asked my friends to give me some of their favorite discontinued foods from the past. Now I know this subject has had a pretty bright light on it here, but a fresh look is always nice. I am a very nostalgic person, so inherently my taste buds also miss many of my favorite treats from the past. We all know that time takes its toll on all things, and interest in products wane, but some products seemed to end their run abruptly at what appeared to be the pinnacle of their selling point. Well, I wanted answers, and I wanted answers for everyone I talked to as well. I tried to get in touch with as many of the companies that I could to ask them not only why certain products went away, but if there is any possibility of a comeback. Before I start, however, keep in mind that the entire Hostess company went out of business, so that pretty much nails the question of why Twinkies aren't around (also, Little Debbie is largely picking up the slack). So, without further ado, here are the foods that our yearning stomachs and mouths just can't seem to let go of:
1. Keeblers Pizzarias
I start with not only my favorite snack from the past, but also the first company I wrote to about bringing them back. Made by the Keebler company (owned by Kellogg's), these chips rivaled Doritos any day. They were pretty big in the late 80's early 90's, flying off shelves, until one day they never came back to the shelf. Although at least one company had tried to bring them back through limited production, they had lost the frenzy they once had. Contacting Keebler, basically the only reason they went out of style was because, contrary to my memory, they actually weren't flying off the shelves. Stores actually stopped ordering them, so Keebler stopped making them. I suppose those little elves were too overworked making all of those cookies that they couldn't afford to keep poorly selling chips going as well. I mean, they have tiny, tiny mouths to feed, too. Unfortunately for us all, there are no plans to bring them back. Holding that number one place for lost foods in my heart, a final goodbye to Pizzarias.
(Pssst, hey you! Want to sign a petition to bring these back? Here you go http://www.petitiononline.com/p349823/petition.html. Become part of the solution!)
2. E.T. cereal
In 1982, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial took the theaters by storm. Everyone was quite taken with the benevolent alien trying to get back home, and his growing relationship with Elliott. Naturally, a cereal was made to cash in on its rising popularity. Eventually, after the cinema run and the release on home video, the interest died out, as did the interest for the cereal. This was somewhat interesting, in that E.T. wasn't necessarily a generic version of other, more established cereals like most media-linked cereals are. However, as stated by General Mills, popularity simply waned and it was cancelled. I had asked if the recent Blu Ray release could be enough to spark a limited run, but sadly, there are no plans. This alien has gone back home for good.
3. Crystal Pepsi
Oddly enough, I had contacted Pepsi about this product several times before. Only released in the US and Canada for one year (longer in Europe and Mexico) before it was yanked. Did we like it? Hell yeah we did, it was clear cola! No longer did soft drinks like Sprite or 7-up corner the market on clear drinks, Pepsi was way ahead of its time with this...or were they? It actually wasn't all that great, in fact tasting a little worse than regular Pepsi cola, and really only using the gimmick of being clear. I suppose at that time, science just wowed us despite its laziness to the point that we were excited that a cola wasn't brown. I suppose we just hadn't seen anything innovative lately. Once again, the taste must live on only in memory, as Pepsi has no plans of returning to leading the way in soda science with clear cola.
4. Hi-C Ecto Cooler
Perhaps one of my favorite drinks of all time, this gem was green, gross colored greatness. Produced in 1987 by Minute Maid to cash in on the cartoon series "The Real Ghostbusters," Ecto Cooler actually outlasted the series cancellation in 1991 by ten years. After 2001, it was renamed twice until the flavor was finally pulled. Having contacted parent company Coca-Cola, once again waning sales led to the demise of this once adored drink, and currently there are no plans to bring it back. With filming of the third Ghostbusters movie supposed to begin at anytime, I suppose there is always a possibility, but don't hold your breath. For now, you can actually make your own at home (which I have done several times, with the help of my lovely wife). http://www.nerdist.com/2011/09/relive-the-80s-by-making-your-own-ecto-cooler/. Be warned, some of the ingredients may prove difficult to find, so substitutions or ordering online is suggested.
5. Cheetos Paws
Not the greatest picture, I know, but it seems like Frito-Lay is trying to forget the blunder that is cancelling this product. In a time where the market was taking off for anything Cheeto (also contributing to my first nickname), Frito-Lay cleverly introduced the exact same product they had been making since 1940, but get this: in the shape of Chester's paws! Given the impression that Paws left on consumers, you would think that it would have been around longer than the three years (90-93) it was actually on store shelves. Sure it was a gimmick, but it was great for kids. Oddly enough, contacting Frito-Lay reveals that this product was discontinued simply to make room for other products, and not necessarily because of low sales. What's up, guys? Did you just think we wouldn't care? Chester can still be found hobbling around at a store near you, just sans Paws. However, here is another online petition to bring them back, if you're hardcore http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/bringbackcheetospaws.
6. Smurf-Berry Crunch Cereal
This one was brought up by my sister. Many people don't remember that the Smurfs ran from 1981-1989, making it pretty successful for an animated show. What better way to cash in on a cartoon in the 80's than with a cereal? Introduced in 1983, Smurf-Berry Crunch was very similar to Crunch Berries cereal (Captain Crunch). Does anyone remember the jingle?
"Smurf Berry Crunch is fun to eat
A Smurfy fruity breakfast treat
Made by Smurfs so happily
It tastes like crunchy Smurf Berries
It's berry shaped and crispy too
In berry red and Smurfy blue."
I didn't, so I stole it from a website. A second cereal called Smurf Magic Berries was introduced in 1987, but with the shows declining popularity, Post inevitably discontinued both cereals to make way for new brands. Once again, I asked if there was a possibility of bringing them back, what with the Smurfs movie and upcoming sequel being released, but Post responded with a resounding "no plans at this time." I don't know why, it seems like kids and nostalgic parents alike would jump at the opportunity to purchase these again. Gargamel seemingly wins the day and rids the world of Smurfs related foods. For now, I suppose you will just have to keep buying Crunch Berries and drawing Smurf pictures on the cover like I d...I mean, like some people probably do...but not me, because that is totally weird.
7. Planter's Cheez Balls
I only added this one because my good friend Jason asked, but many of you may not realize they aren't around any longer. The product you usually see is either some Frito-Lay version, the most popular Utz Cheese Balls, or some knock-off. Planters was very cordial when I contacted them, but also assured me that there were no plans to bring them back, most likely due to the overwhelming competition from other brands. Maybe it is best that Planters sticks to nuts, since, you know, their mascot is a peanut after all...a classy, monocle wearing peanut.
My personal favorite beverage of the '90's, Fruitopia was amazing. Released in 1994 by Coca-Cola, this drink put a new twist on juice, and like its name, was Utopia for your taste buds. It is somewhat debatable to put this on the list, since some of the flavors still exist, but under the Minute Maid label, and from what I understand Fruitopia is still available in Canada and Australia. However, since Coca-Cola thought it sufficient to discontinue it here in the U.S. (jerks), it sneaks in. I cannot tell you how many empty bottles of this filled my otherwise unused locker in high school, labeling me what some may call "messy" or Fruitopia junkie, but that is just the opinion of some (all) people. The Coca-Cola company, surprisingly, isn't what you would call very helpful or press friendly (at least not when it is one writer trying to get information about discontinued products), at least not as much as Pepsi. Therefore, unfortunately, responses usually go something like "You may or may not know that we discontinued this product, but take comfort in one of our current crappy soft drinks." Uh, no thanks, Coke. I'd rather just have the good stuff back. Speaking of that...
Great, another interaction with the cheerful people at Coca-Cola. Now, it was never scientifically proven, but I am pretty sure Surge soda led to children born in the '90's having severe ADD. With enough sugar to put your pancreas into insulin pumping overdrive, Surge was an overbearing answer to Pepsi's Mountain Dew, and we loved it. It was basically energy drinks before energy drinks, but it tasted way better than the nuclear horse spit stuff we have now. With only a six year run, from 1996-2002, parents everywhere gave a sigh of relief. Contacting Coke, as you can imagine, was a pain in the ass, with another "hey, it's gone, get over it" response. But not all is lost, as the drink lives on in Norway under the name Urge. You want to order some? You can, right here http://www.savesurge.org/urge_usa.shtml. But be warned, it costs nearly $100 for a pack of five bottles, so hopefully you have the money to back up your motivation.
9. Jell-O Pudding Pops
Now, I put the original box on here, but be aware that these were bought by the Popsicle company eventually. I can really just say "Bill Cosby," and everyone will probably come to this item in their head almost immediately. They were pretty great, and I am pretty sure most people would remember them that way. Unfortunately, most people also chose to only remember them instead of actually buying them, so they were discontinued. As with most of these products, there are no real plans to bring them back, so I guess in the end we really only have ourselves to blame. Maybe we could start a petition to the Jell-O company to bring them back, but they are probably a little too busy doing the pudding thing. Does anyone actually make pudding anymore? Have any of you actually bought some Jell-O pudding from the store? Luckily, I think they pretty much have the market for pudding cornered, so it is probably safe to say Jell-O isn't going anywhere, but maybe you should go buy a few boxes just in case. I mean, why aren't you buying them anyway? What, you got something against pudding?
10. 3D Doritos
I have to admit, I didn't care much for 3D Doritos. However, I can acknowledge that it is about the only thing with the Dorito name I haven't enjoyed, and respect that some of you found these delectable. I find Frito-Lay (parent company) a joy to work with. Even though you may get the same answer as every other company, nobody makes your experience quite as pleasant. This time, when asking why they went away and how "everyone" (I lied) seemed to love them, I got "We hear you! We're so glad to know one of our past products reached your 'favorite snack' list!" etc. Yeah, it went into the same "we had to discontinue this to make room for other products" and "We will note your interest" routine, but at least they tried to connect with me. Even the media people were very nice to talk to. As you can see, they aren't coming back. I'm sorry for those of you who actually enjoyed them, but this is one I don't really care to make a comeback, much like our next product.
11. Butterfinger BB's
I had to use the image with the Simpsons, but notice that Bart, the usual mascot, isn't here. Probably because even he wouldn't endorse this product, unlike Lisa who probably doesn't eat sweets, and Homer who probably eats literally anything. I truly am guilty of buying these, even though I never actually finished a bag. There was just something off about them, and it really is hard to put my finger (no pun intended) on what it was. The chocolate may have been a little different, but whatever. Released in 1992, they actually had a nice long 14 year run until they were discontinued. Nestle politely responded that this product would not be brought back. Fortunately they found a better formula with Butterfinger Mini Bites, which you can still find. Lay your fingers on them all you want, because I think the Simpsons stopped caring long ago.
12. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Pies
You guys really break my heart by making me put things like this on my list. In 1990, you couldn't get away from the mean green foursome, and Turtle Power wasn't slowing down. With a hit cartoon, motion picture, cereal, action figures, and it seemed like everything down to actual endorsed turtle wax, they decided to dye the original pudding pies and make...well, this. Now, I don't have a precise year that Hostess stopped production of these, but it is safe to say it was probably around the time TMNT started losing traction with its fans. Imagine my excitement when I moved to Nevada, and literally 10 minutes away was a Hostess factory. TMNT had started a new show, a new movie was in the works, and my college was less than 1 mile away down the same street, literally no other buildings in between. I could just run in there, talk to anyone who would listen about bringing them back! If no one would listen, I could paint myself green and start a protest outside with all of my friends who want them back (that makes about...only me). We all know the tragic end to this tale, with Hostess unable to overcome strikes, and inevitably shutting down completely. These, along with other pies, ding dongs, and yes, twinkies, are gone for good. I still sometimes feel like crying at the gates outside of the building, clenching my fingers around the bars and screaming into the sky, and when I say feel like, I mean maybe I should actually probably stop doing it in real life. But it isn't like a defunct company can actually enforce those restraining orders. Oh, and if you want to take a whack at making them at home, here you go http://thesurfingpizza.com/2011/04/22/the-surfing-pizza-takes-on-teenage-mutant-ninja-turtle-pudding-pies/.
13. Bonkers candy
I will admit that for the longest time I remembered Bonkers being gum, but they are labeled as "fruit candy," so we will go with that. You may remember this 80's candy as having the commercial where someone would get giant fruit dropped on them once one of these were popped in their mouth. I chose this product as last on my list to serve as a shining beacon for hope. Originally produced by Nabisco, Bonkers was picked up last year by Leaf Brands, LLC to be brought back into production sometimes in 2013. I was able to be put in direct contact with the company's CEO, who assured me that, even though they are a few months behind, they are bringing Bonkers back as soon as they can. They have even been corresponding with the person who was in charge of the original line to make sure they do this comeback right. This was the best news I had heard, and it was great to get it directly from such a high source. Talk about a great approach to bringing back something that a lot of people would love to see (maybe Coca-Cola should take note). I was encouraged to keep in contact if I had more questions, which you can be sure I will follow up on, so let me know if you are interested. Score one for the masses!
It is always most enjoyable to write about something you enjoy, and by now I think it is pretty well known I have a borderline obsession with writing about the past. I had a great time contacting most of these companies, and reminiscing about my favorite discontinued foods (even if some companies weren't the greatest to deal with). A nice benefit to this was that many companies tend to send out coupons for a free product just for contacting them. I would highly encourage anyone to not just be satisfied that a product is gone, but seek answers, as with all aspects of life (if you are lazy, just ask me to do it). We all have many products we miss, whether it be food, toys, or TV shows. Nostalgia does something to us. Not only do we reflect on these things as great products from the past, but as a simpler time when we had little responsibility and nothing better to do than enjoy our childhood. When we think about our past, we are able to immerse ourselves in feelings and memories that cannot be recaptured, and so it goes with most of these foods. Perhaps it is only now that they are gone for good that we are able to truly appreciate the role they played in our past. Maybe some were great, and maybe some were awful and our young minds refused to see them that way. But like I always say, it may not be how it happened, but it's how I remember it.