I don’t know about you, but I miss the 90s. For all its ridiculousness (and for basically being a more “PC” version of the 80s), it did manage to bring us some truly fantastic forms of entertainment. I was only a wee lad for the majority of it, but that doesn’t stop me from looking back fondly and remembering some of the highlights. From innovative new products and foods to outlandishly fun (and incessantly family-friendly) televised content, the decade left its mark on my very soul—for better or for worse, I suppose.
The way I see it, there was only one problem with the 90s: it ended. Hey, don’t blame me! It had to end eventually. And like so many in my generation, I’m left with the mere recollections of such a fun and fancy free era to sustain my good humor in the face of an underwhelming adulthood. Yikes, that sounds a little bit bleaker than I intended. I should probably stop reminiscing, but then again, I do enjoy my nostalgic ramblings.
Admittedly, there are probably a million and one colorful topics I could address when it comes to those ten fantastic years, but here’s a few particulars that some people may have forgotten about (and since I’m in a gluttonous mood, they’re all food related):
Pop Qwiz Popcorn
Let’s face it—plain old yellowish butter is just plain gross! Never mind this product’s juvenile misspelling, because you don’t know what fun is until you’ve tried to guess which color your popcorn’s going to be when it’s done popping. And you don’t know what wrath is until your mom sees the permanent, multicolored butter stains left on your clothing. Oh, how I miss the brightly colored afternoons of my youth! You’d think a product that’s both vibrant and edible would be a mainstay for sure, but sadly, this vivid offering from the fine folks at Pop Secret never quite gained the momentum it should have. I still fail to see why. With a spokesperson this cool, it deserved a much longer stay in supermarkets.
Speaking of stains, when the Frito-Lay company decided in 1991 that it was time to mix things up with their Cheetos brand by introducing “Paws,” they couldn’t possibly have come up with a more wardrobe-tarnishing concoction of cheesy goodness. Also, they couldn’t possibly have offset the balance of processed cheese to actual chip any further. These things were lethal—lethally delicious! They were the third official variation of the Cheetos snack to be released in the United States, after “Puffs” and “Bacon & Cheese.” To date, there have been a total of thirty-two variations available in stores. Thirty-two!
Now, I’m something of a Cheetos connoisseur, which means I did my fair share of research for this post. So, allow me to put things into perspective. The wunderkind curls were first introduced in 1948 to a cheese-deprived, post-war America (and Canada). They remained the sole version of the snack until the “Puffs” iteration came about in ’71. The “Bacon & Cheese” hit the shelves at some point in the early 80s, and the “Paws” graced us with their deliciousness in ’91. In summation, that’s four types of Cheetos released in just over forty years, three of which were sequel snacks. That’s an appreciable level of output for any purveyor of cheese-based products.
Those skilled at math will have already figured out that the remaining twenty-nine variations were released between 1991 and the present. It would certainly seem as though “Paws” were an unlikely catalyst for a new age of cheesiness! The company’s output literally went from roughly one type of Cheeto per decade to roughly one per year—on average. Now that’s dangerously cheesy!
Capping off the 90s in true gimmicky fashion were Doritos 3D! Like the Cheetos brand, Doritos has never been a stranger to experimentation, and the design of this “special release” chip proves it—sort of. Admittedly, it was somewhat lazy on their part to just fill the chips with air and call it a selling point, but that doesn’t mean the end result wasn’t to die for. While this multidimensional version of the titular tortilla chip was by no means one of the company’s more imaginative efforts, what it lacked in ingenuity it made up for in sheer flavorfuliciousness (shut up, it’s a word)! In fact, with flavors like “Zesty Ranch” and “Texas Paprika” to liven the taste buds, how could anyone not have loved Doritos 3D?!
Well, apparently it wasn’t too difficult. The puffy chip’s life on the shelves was cut short rather prematurely, but with “3D” now being such a trendy topic, I’m hoping to witness a miraculous resurrection of this Doritos experiment! Rumor has it that they’re still available in Mexico, but I haven’t decided whether they’re worth the gas money (or the potential health risk).
All in all, it’s not hard to see why products of this sort were so short-lived. People’s tastes will inevitably mature, leaving such novel snacks behind. In ideal cases, the purveyors of these and other innovative foods would learn from their mistakes, correct them, and re-release future iterations of them, but I’m not sure I’ll be seeing these particular products anytime in the near future. After all, it was the 90s!
What about you? What do you think reduced the shelf-life of the aforementioned snacks? What are some other 90s foods (or products, programs, etc.) that you were sorry to see disappear?
Don’t forget to check out part one, part three, and part four for more nostalgia while you’re here. Also, the Pop Qwiz Popcorn and Doritos 3D pictures are from Retro Junk, where you’ll find more forgotten favorites from past eras!