Born in 1986, this '80s baby and '90s kid remembers the colorful and naughty side of millennial youth.
A Trip Down Millennial Lane
Millennials rejoiced when Hi-C briefly brought back their beloved Ecto Cooler when Ghostbusters 3 hit theaters, and when Dunkaroos and Oreo O's cereal finally returned to the United States after their snackable trips around the globe.
However, the following three staples of early 1990s kids' tables have yet to resurface in the new millennium.
1. Planters PB Crisps
Probably the most sought-after is Planters PB Crisps.
Not quite a cookie but just as sweet, these crunchy, nearly two-inch-long snacks shaped like a peanut hit stores in 1992 and were an instant hit. The shells were easy on the teeth and inside the thin, sugary, peanut cracker, was a thick paste of sweet peanut butter, similar in taste and texture to the cream inside a Nutter Butter cookie sandwich.
The crispy snack was such a hit, it spawned two spin-offs, Chocolate Crisps and PB&J Crisps with a strawberry filling. Rumors of a grape or cherry filling spread around the playgrounds like jam, but seem to only exist as wishful thinking.
Strangely, despite constantly selling out, Planters discontinued the snack in most parts of the country in 1995. Select towns did continue to receive PB Crisps until 1999 and a tiny, 100-calorie version was produced off and on until roughly 2001.
Fans have never bought Planters' insistence that the snack was a commercial flop, and a fan website is currently active to show Planters—now owned by Hormel—that demand for the near cookie is still very high.
2. Hershey's Shelf-Stable Milk and Cookies 'n' Mint Bar
Full disclosure, the Hershey's Cookies 'n' Mint Bar has popped back into public view off and on since 1994, with newer varieties hitting store shelves in 2005, but that iconic wrapper is history and the recipe has changed.
The original 1994 bar was an even mix of milk chocolate and peppermint. It wasn't too sweet or sugary and it wasn't "like toothpaste" the way some people describe the bar. It was a perfect, crunchy blend that was so popular, it spawned a rumor.
Would there be a Hershey's chocolate milk drink for the lunchbox?
Seemingly, that answer is a solid "no," but there were lots of other flavors of the shelf-stable milk drink that '90s millennials got to enjoy for a short time.
While the chocolate, plain, cookies and cream, and strawberry flavors still pop up off and on in the grocery aisle, the original lineup was chocolate, strawberry, marshmallow/s'mores, and banana/banana split.
These flavors were powerful. The banana tasted like fresh bananas and chocolate. The marshmallow was super sugary and sweet, and the strawberry packed more of a punch than the artificial and toned down "Nesquik" clone that sometimes shows up in stores today.
Strangely, these alternate flavors were gone by 1995. Hershey does not acknowledge their existence and images of the shelf-stable milk product are very hard to find on the internet.
3. Swanson Kids Fun Feast
Fun Feast was a parent's dream and a kid's best friend.
Popping up in the frozen section all throughout the 1990s and as late as 2002, Fun Feast by Swanson for their Swanson Kids line were the rivals to the often salty, sodium-heavy Kids Cuisine meals. Unlike their competitors, Fun Feast kept a more balanced cap on the salt and sugar while keeping up the flavor.
Mouthwatering fried chicken, chicken tenders, chicken nuggets, ravioli, pasta rings with meatballs, fish sticks, mini tacos, mini pizzas, mini grilled cheese sandwiches, and macaroni and cheese entrees were coupled with seasoned French fries, buttery corn, cinnamon apple compote, blue applesauce, various cheese sauces, and side dishes. Depending on which box you chose, you would also get a dessert of a decadent fudge brownie, smooth chocolate pudding, a dish of ice cream, or a thick, blue ice custard. Sometimes, these desserts came with sprinkles or frosting.
Behind every tray was a unique booklet or tagboard game you could put together while you waited for your meal to cook in the microwave, toaster oven, or convection oven, depending on how crispy you wanted that chicken.
Until 1999, Fun Feast had its own animal characters with plenty of lions, jokes, and anecdotes about saving the environment.
Starting in 1999, Swanson started to phase out their original characters for images of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Fred Flintstone, Dino, and Scooby-Doo to help promote various cartoon specials and movies.
Around this time, select markets got a tween-centered Fun Feast XTreme line of meals to help transition pre-teens from "little kid" meals into more adult staples such as Hungry Man. Ditching the cartoons for electric fonts and more bold graphics, these meals included larger portions of the original line of Fun Feast, and added popular items like nachos, mini hot dog wraps, pizza rolls, and pizza dunk sticks.
Alas, the fun was over once Campbell's purchased Swanson, and by 2002 Fun Feast was a distant memory.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Koriander Bullard