Sometimes I dream that I’m back in elementary school opening my lunch box, eager and equally nervous to discover what’s inside. I’ll usually find at least one childhood snack with a fictional character on it. I awaken with a jolt, likely because I haven’t had the chance to sink into a mysteriously electric blue fruit snack or excitedly tear the top from a sugary blue beverage. The jolt quickly morphs into sadness. I miss these bright snacks. What were my top seven childhood foods inspired by fictional characters?
1. Hi-C Ecto Cooler
This green drink fueled me through many pole-climbing sessions in gym (a.k.a. me hanging on a pole), chorus practices and spelling bees. It was my rock. I don’t know if a grown woman should be as excited as I am that the strange citrus magic made a comeback for the new Ghostbusters movie this summer. While summer ale or rosé were fine, many of those hot, muggy days called for an ice cold Ecto Cooler.
2. Tiny Toons Adventures Mint Chocolate Chip Bars
There was no better after-school treat than this Baskin-Robbins staple. It was perfectly cold, and it didn’t melt as fast as regular ice cream because the edges were firm and chilled. All other ice cream bars have failed in comparison ever since. I forget if the mint chocolate chip one was shaped like Babs or Buster Bunny, but it was simply the best.
3. Flintstones Push-Ups
These frosty orange delights coated my face pretty constantly from 1990-1994. It was impossible to appear dignified while eating these, but that pretty much matched my early childhood identity anyway. There were a few flavors, but Yabba Dabba Doo Orange was the ultimate. These are still around, but without the Flintstones designation, as kids today would have no idea what a Flintstone, let alone a caveman, was.
The bottles were shaped like weird characters who were actually pretty scary in the commercial. I loved reaching into my lunch box and feeling an ice cold Squeez-It, which would rub its chill on everything else. (Around 1994 I got a fancy insulated lunch pack to keep things cold. It sort of worked.) That snap-off top is unforgettable, and so is the taste of plastic that accompanied each sip. I’ll never forget the rush of that sugary water going down my throat, nor will I forget driving around in my Little Tikes red Cozy Coupe car drinking one and pretending to be Sylvester Stallone. (He drank a road beer in a cop car in a movie I saw.) Kool-Aid Bursts were far less superior.
5. Yoplait Trix Strawberry Banana Bash Yogurt
Because sometimes you had to eat healthy, and this was a party in your mouth. This yogurt was a rollercoaster of flavors. Just when you got a punch of sweet strawberry, a silky banana burst flowed in. It was heavenly and a million times tastier than Trix cereal. It’s around today, claiming to have no high fructose corn syrup and no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners. Back in the 90s, all that mattered was the party.
6. Quaker Dinosaur Eggs Oatmeal Featuring Characters from The Land Before Time
The sugary eggs would dissolve in the hot oatmeal, making it nice and sweet and edible. It bothers me now that this was the equivalent of just adding spoonfuls of sugar, but at the time it was cool and the closest thing I’d ever get to being an archaeologist.
7. Scooby Doo Fruit Snacks
You were really into these for one reason. The hypnotic neon blue Scooby-shaped fruit snack was the most delicious lunch box morsel of the 90s. There was only one or two in every bag, so I always saved it for last. I wanted this mysterious, slightly sweet, slightly sour flavor with me as I trekked back to class, where things were a lot less tasty.