Nothing made you cooler in the cafeteria at lunchtime than opening your lunchbox and pulling out that golden box with the giant LUNCHABLE written across the top.
Lunchables were always the go to, easy, pre-made lunch that a lot of working American families went to because of the convenience and amount of time needed to prepare. I mean don't get me wrong, I loved a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich in my lunchbox or buying my lunch on chicken nugget day, but there was something about eating a Lunchable in school that was just enjoyable.
There were so many options to choose from and Oscar Mayer was always coming out with new Lunchables all the time.
The pizza Lunchable is probably one of the most popular Lunchables that my friends and I would bring for lunch. You could choose between extra cheese or pepperoni pizzas. You were given three crusts to make three pizzas and you had to proportion your cheese just right or your last pizza would have more sauce and less cheese than the first. One thing that the pizza Lunchables from my childhood had was the little red stick (commonly used with the Handi-Snacks) to spread the sauce. Nowadays, you have to use your finger or a utensil.
Even at age 26, I'll still eat the pizza Lunchables even though the taste is way different than I can remember. The sauce is more bland and bitter and the pepperoni is actual pepperoni rather than the sausage like pepperoni from the late '90s, early 2000s.
Lunchables also introduced the Pizza & Treatza Lunchables that allowed you to create a dessert pizza with the regular pizza. It came with chocolate sauce and candy toppings.
Nachos are another Lunchable that are still around today and pretty popular. They're very easy to eat and aren't as messy as the pizzas. You get quite a bit of nachos and salsa and cheese to dip. The ones that I remember as a kid also came with a Crunch Bar and Capri Sun.
As a kid I only used the salsa to dip, but as I got older I learned to appreciate the cheese dip more than the salsa. I find that the cheese dip in today's Lunchables has a little spicy kick to it that makes it more enjoyable because it's not bland.
3. Cracker Stackers
The Cracker Stackers are the most common and original Lunchable out there. The concept of Lunchables were created around the cracker stacker. It was a way for Oscar Mayer to promote their meats, especially bologna, in a convenient way. They developed the Lunchable and used crackers because it had a longer cooler life than bread, and they used Kraft cheese. Besides bologna, Oscar Mayer has cracker stackers that contain ham and turkey, as well as a variety of cheeses such as swiss, American and cheddar.
For a short period of time, Oscar Mayer had a pizza cracker stacker Lunchable that is different from the ones they have today with the cracker, pepperoni and mozzarella cheese. The crackers had a pizza seasoning on them that made them taste like a real pizza. I was very upset when they stopped making them because it brought the convenience of the cracker stackers without the mess of the pizza.
4. Mini Hot Dogs and Hamburgers
The All-Star Hot Dogs were three mini hot dogs and buns with a packet of ketchup and mustard and a can of cola to drink. The All-Star burgers came with 2 hamburger patties, buns, ketchup and mustard packet as well as a can of cola.
I used to eat the hot dogs all the time as a kid, but looking back at it, they weren't very good. First of all, the hot dogs were precooked and didn't need to be heated up and the buns were cold and hard, which made them break apart and kind of stale tasting. I think the only thing that tasted ok was the ketchup to put on it. The can of cola wasn't bad either. I think I only had the cheeseburgers maybe once or twice because I wasn't really a big hamburger eater when I was a kid. I'll just stick to the real deal and have a nice hot hamburger or hot dog on a soft bun.
Here's the cheesy, yet memorable commercial
5. Beef Tacos
The Lunchable Tacos were branded as Taco Bell tacos until they dropped the Taco Bell name and just called them beef tacos. All these Lunchables consisted of was some flour tortillas, shredded cheddar cheese, a packet of beef and I believe there was some taco sauce as well.
These Lunchables were not that great in my opinion. The texture of the beef was more like pureed beef and a whole lot of taco seasoning to make it taste like taco. Plus, having the beef cold with some shredded cheese just made it taste like garbage.
6. Waffles and Pancakes
Oscar Mayer introduced breakfast Lunchables where you could have waffles or pancakes. They came with sausage or bacon bits, LifeSavers gummies, syrup and a bottle of Tang. They weren't around for long, until they made a comeback more recently.
The breakfast Lunchables were probably some of my favorite Lunchables to ever exist. I always liked the waffles the best. I remember going to the store and eating them in my mom's minivan before going to school. It was quick and easy, didn't make a mess and it tasted pretty good from what I remember. I have brought them up to friends during conversations about things we miss from our childhood and no one else remembered these Lunchables, except me. I'm sad these didn't stick around for too long, even though they've come back within the past few years.
7. Lunchables Fun Snacks
The Fun Snacks were probably the best thing that Oscar Mayer created under the Lunchables branding. These fun snacks were either cookies, brownies, smores or a marshmallow treat with toppings and frostings to create the ultimate sugar rush. My favorite of all time was the Oreo cookies with frosting and sprinkles. I would make the greatest sandwich cookie with those snacks. The Smore's with graham crackers, marshmallow fluff and chocolate chips were my next favorite and then the vanilla cookies with frosting were my third favorite. I use to eat these for a snack in 6th grade and my friends would be so jealous. They were discontinued a short time later and they are truly missed.
8. Pizza Dunks & Chicken Dunks
Chicken Dunks Lunchables are still in existence today, but I remember when they first came out, I didn't really know how I'd feel eating cold precooked chicken nuggets. As a kid, I didn't think they were terrible, but they also weren't the best. Some times the breading on the chicken would be soggy from the moisture and condensation of the packaging and it would just peel off leaving me a unbreaded piece of cold chicken. Later on, Oscar Mayer would introduce the chicken shake-ups which were the same chicken dunks but they came with a packet of like powdered BBQ sauce that you'd shake the nuggets in a pouch. Now I did think those were a step up from the regular dunks because you got to play with your food.
The Pizza Dunks on the other hand were actually pretty good from what I remember. It was like taking the pizza crusts from the pizza Lunchables and puffing them out into a stick and dipping them in either sauce or cheese. I wish these Lunchables were still around because I can still taste them.
Mega Lunchables had more food than the regular Lunchables. They had Deep Dish Pizza, Nachos, Cracker Stackers and Breadsticks. The Mega Name would eventually be changed to Maxed Out and eventually included Tacos and Chicken Strips. They would also include some Pringles and a much bigger drink. The Maxed Out Lunchables caused a lot of concern for health experts because they were very unhealthy for children and they were eventually discontinued.
I use to love the Mega Lunchables just because I thought they tasted better. The Deep Dish Pizza crusts tasted better than the regular ones. Also, the meat in the Cracker Stackers tasted better than the original ones, however they tasted much saltier than the original.
Parents are scrutinized way more today when it comes to feeding their children Lunchables. I know in my hometown, Lunchables aren't deemed a nutritious lunch and children are sent home letters to parents to not bring them. I've also heard that children who bring them have to sit somewhere else in the cafeteria away from their friends. I just don't understand the big deal with Lunchables. Many of my friends and I grew up on Lunchables and food that was way more unhealthy back in the 90s and 00s and we turned out fine.
Anyway, I'd love to hear what types of Lunchables everyone used to eat as a kid and what their favorites and least favorites were. Tell me what Lunchables you liked eating as a kid. Hope you enjoyed my article.