Americans, we’re a gluttonous bunch, aren’t we? We’ve not only become the most powerful nation in the history of the world, we’re also the fattest nation the world has ever seen. And we’re proud of it. Damn proud of it! We can probably trace our expanding waistlines to 80s foods, which “push[ed] the envelope on what can technically be defined as food,” as Jon Stewart astutely observed.
Here are five foods invented and unleashed onto an unsuspecting and naive American public in the 1980s. They may not be healthy, but oooooohhhh are they delicious!
Sure, these puppies left a slimy coat of delicious orange weirdness all over your fingers and lips, but Planters Cheez Balls, which were introduced in 1981, were all the rage for throughout the 80s and most of the 90s. But, alas, Planters retired these fan favorites.
Cheez Balls had such a cult following, that Planters decided to bring them back. Woohoo! Rumor is they’re also bringing back Cheez Curls. This could be a short run (or a long rekindled romance), who knows? Just make sure to stock up — prepper style — when you can! No one wants to be caught during the end of times sans Cheez Balls.
Five words never uttered after eating this 80s latchkey kid after-school favorite: “I’m glad I ate that.” Just ask Jim Gaffigan.
Sure, they were about as unhealthy as deep-fried Oreos soaked in pork fat and drizzled in ranch dressing, but boy were they convenient. If you’re Gen X and you were a kid in the 80s, when you got home from school and mom and dad were still working, it sure was easy to pop one of these bad boys into the microwave oven!
Even cooler was being able to watch what seemed like mind-blowing NASA-developed technology. The fact you could actually just slide a “pizza” into some weird silver sleeve, nuke it for two minutes, then voila, have a tasty Hot Pocket pizza emerge seemed nothing short of miraculous.
We’re not exactly sure who was behind the harebrained idea to sell candies that were designed to look like cigarettes to kids (they even produced fake bellowing cigarette smoke) or shredded gum resembling chewing tobacco (maybe “Big Tobacco?”), but back in the 80s these products sure were a hit with the kids.
These tiny, tangy, crunchy candies hit the scene in 1983 and started a craze. So much so that by 1985, the National Candy Wholesalers Association (NCWA) recognized Nerds as the “Candy of the Year.” Why not? With their unique shape, thin candy-coating, and nearly 100% sugar, Nerds are nothing short of perfection! Seriously, they’re almost entirely sugar.
The television show, Unwrapped, interviewed one of the factory workers (who presumably no longer has a job). The worker explains, “Basically we start off with a sugar crystal and we just keep coating it with more sugar.” Don’t worry. Sure, the top three ingredients are dextrose, sugar, and malic acid, but it also contains 2 percent corn syrup, carnauba wax (what the hell is that?), artificial flavors, and coloring.
In 1986, Cool Ranch Doritos hit the market and stoners haven’t looked back since. Sure, they’re about as healthy as fried Kool-Aid balls, but tell me they don’t go great with Granddaddy Purple or some sticky-icky OG Kush. They’re so badass that they’re still just as popular today — if not more popular — as they were in the 80s.
If you ever go to the UK or Europe and find yourself fiending for some Cool Ranch Doritos, you’ll have to ask for them by another name. Those uncivilized Europeans apparently haven’t been blessed with Cool Ranch Dressing, so over the pond, they call them “Cool Original” in the UK and “Cool American” on the continent. Hey, “Cool American” ain’t a bad name.
This was a hard list to compile since five faves was a bit limiting. No doubt, we could have come up with a hundred, but these were five of our favorites. You’re probably wondering why we didn’t include Celery Jell-O or Pop Tarts. Hey, Gen-Xers aren’t that old. Those came out in the 1960s. Granted, maybe we should have included microwave popcorn which made its debut in 1981.
Do you have a favorite munchie from the 80s? Leave it in the comments section. In the meantime, come on down to Bud Hut in Maple Valley or any other one of our more than ten locations (and growing) to pick up some great edibles that’ll rival your favorite snacks.