90s food really was something, wasn’t it? Bright, vibrant, and stuffed with sugar, the treats captured the imaginations of kids and adults alike. Today, we’re taking a trip down nostalgia lane to look at some of the classic delights of the 90s and what made them so exciting. After all, many of us could use an emotional reminder of the carefree days of our childhood.
While some of these snacks have gone the way of the dinosaur, others have stayed popular over the years. A few have even been revitalized due to extremely strong public demand. As such, there are plenty of 90s foods for you to serve at your next event, perhaps with some 90s drinks in tow.
Are these foods good for you? Not at all. Still, that’s part of their appeal. We all need guilty pleasures every now and again.
Stuffed Crust Pizza
Pizza Hut released their stuffed crust pizza in 1995, which started a massive wave of excitement about the style. There was something simply stunning about gooey cheese in the crust of pizza – as if pizza wasn’t decadent enough on its own.
The cheese also simply makes pizza crusts more engaging. After all, the dry bread is pretty dull in its own right. The stuffed crust style was a great way to get people to actually eat the crusts of their pizza, rather than leaving it behind.
Other pizza companies soon caught onto the trend. You can now even find stuffed crust frozen DiGiorno pizzas. Stuffed crust pizza from pizza chains isn’t as common, but you can still find it occasionally.
Eggo Frozen Toaster Waffles were another popular 90s choice – with the famous catchphrase “L’eggo my Eggo”. The treats were (and still are) frozen waffles that can be easily heated in the toaster.
The appeal is easy to understand, as mixing waffle batter and preparing waffles is messy and time-consuming. That’s the last thing you want on a weekday morning when everyone is crabby and in a hurry.
Eggos weren’t actually first sold in the 1950s. However, their popularity really took off in the 90s, along with many other frozen treats.
Eggos have seen a modern revival, largely due to the Stranger Things series on Netflix. Suddenly the breakfast treat has become popular once again and has even attracted many new fans.
Who can forget fish sticks (or fish fingers, if you’re in the UK). These are often made from haddock or cod, which has been minced, formed into a stick shape, then breaded and fried.
Fish sticks sound healthy, given that they’re rich in protein and omega 3 fatty acids. Yet, the commercial versions are often deep fried and contain a considerable amount of saturated fat.
The versions sold in the 90s certainly won no awards for health. Opinions were mixed about flavor too, with some 90s kids loving fish sticks and others loathing them. Either way, fish sticks were an institution of the era.
The 90s were certainly the time for pizza, in every form imaginable. While Totino’s Pizza Rolls were actually developed back in the 1950s, the most familiar version started being sold in the early 90s, much to the delight of kids everywhere.
What made the rolls so popular? Who really knows? Perhaps because they worked well as party appetizers or because they seemed like an inside out pizza.
Pizza rolls can still be found today and homemade versions are becoming increasingly popular. These homemade versions won’t taste quite like the 90s treat, but they should be much healthier.
Then we have Bagel Bites. These should look familiar, as they’re still loved today. That’s not surprising either, as the little treats are bite-sized pizzas – and pizza never goes out of style.
Besides, reheating frozen pizza is often a hit or miss process. The smaller Bagel Bites produce a much more consistent result – even if they were never as good as making your own homemade mini pizzas.
Like most nostalgic 90s food, the popularity of bagel bites was partly related to advertising. A catchy jingle and careful marketing were enough to place the bites in high demand.
Who can forget Dunkaroos? The treats came in a rectangular turquoise package, with cookies on one side and icing on the other. The cookies came in plenty of shapes, including kangaroos, motorcycles, and as a capital D. These shapes made the cookies even more fun for kids.
However, the main focus wasn’t the cookies, but the icing. This came in familiar flavors, like chocolate and vanilla, along with more unusual ones, like cinnamon and rainbow sprinkles.
Dunkaroos were then discontinued – in 2012 in the United States and 2017 in Canada. That discontinuation was partly linked to General Mills having an increased focus on healthy snacks. It didn’t last though, as customer demand for Dunkaroos was high. Some people even brought them across the border from Canada so Americans could get their fix.
In 2020, General Mills finally gave in and came back with a vanilla cookies and vanilla icing version, complete with rainbow sprinkles. A chocolate icing version was released in 2021, making the treats even more desirable.
Reviews suggest that the cookies are still delicious, perhaps even better than they were before. The main downside is that there are fewer flavors to choose from.
Freeze pops go by plenty of names, including Otter pops, ice pops, freezies, and ices. Whatever you call them, there’s no doubt that these were a popular treat.
The bright and fruity ice treats were the perfect way to cool off on a summer’s day. The plastic pouches meant that kids mostly avoided messy hands, which was great news for parents.
Of course, these pops weren’t just a staple of the 90s. They’re still going strong today, with many different styles and flavors to choose from. Today’s versions often lean towards using more natural ingredients, including fruit puree, rather than the artificially colored and flavored version of yesteryear.
Lunchables debuted back in 1989 and quickly became popular. The original version relied on meat, cheese, and crackers. It wasn’t until the mid-90s that the more exciting versions of Lunchables came out (including pizza!).
Lunchables were more than just a snack. They also gave kids more flexibility in their lunches, reducing their parents’ workload – a fact that was played upon in marketing for Lunchables.
The pizza was particularly fun. Sure, the crusts tasted more like cardboard than anything else, but when else did kids get to build their own pizza?
You’ll still see Lunchables in the grocery store, including many versions that were never available in the 90s. The ingredients are as sketchy as ever and Lunchables certainly aren’t healthy.
There are two equally important products here, both of which are still going strong today – Pop-Tarts and Toaster Strudels.
Pop-Tarts come in a vast array of flavors and are technically pre-based, so they can be safely eaten without any toasting. They can also be stored at room temperature, making them a versatile option for families.
The number of flavors has made Pop-Tarts incredibly popular. However, many of those flavors weren’t available when the treats first came out, so 90s kids had fewer choices.
Toaster Strudels are a little different, as they need to be frozen until they’re used and must be heated fully to make safe for eating. The icing is separate for these, allowing kids to distribute it exactly as they like.
Delicious as they are, Pop-Tarts and Toaster Strudels certainly aren’t healthy. Both rely heavily on sugar and refined carbs, while offering few nutrients.
The iconic SpaghettiOs were released in 1965, so they’ve been a classic part of childhood for multiple generations. In part, the idea was to create a version of canned pasta that’s easy to eat with a spoon (one that’s hopefully less messy than regular canned spaghetti).
SpaghettiOs have also come in many shapes over the years, including sports-themed versions, letters, and even teddy bears. Some versions also have extra ingredients, like sausages or meatballs, to make them more exciting and filling.
90s kids often find that SpaghettiOs don’t taste nearly as good as they once did. They can even be downright awful, although it’s not clear why. Campbell’s certainly could have changed the recipe for their product over time. That’s a common enough practice.
Tastes also change as we age, where we often start to enjoy more refined and complex dishes. So, if you don’t like modern SpaghettiOs, that might simply be because you’re not a kid anymore.
Kid Cuisine was a staple meal for many children in the 90s. The frozen meals featured plenty of kid-focused meals, such as fried chicken, chicken nuggets, macaroni cheese, hamburger pizza, and many more.
The meals were decadent and felt like a fantastic treat for many kids. The meals were also sometimes marketed as being nutritious, although there’s no end of debate on that point (honestly, frozen dinners are rarely great for nutrients).
While Kid Cuisine still exists, the company has dramatically pared down its selection of foods. There are currently just three versions: Mini hotdogs, popcorn chicken, and all star nuggets. Even these receive mixed reviews, suggesting that the brand mightn’t stick around for much longer.
Hot Pockets were another part of the 90s pizza craze. They came in other flavors, but the pizza option was one of the most popular.
Pop one of the Hot Pockets in the microwave and you have a hot pizza-tasting snack in no time. Who could go past that? Besides, the 90s was certainly the era for fast and easy food.
Hot Pockets have remained popular and the company has evolved with time. There is a now large selection of different flavors, including pizza Hot Pockets with a garlic crust and a chicken bacon ranch version. Some of these are much larger than the original Hot Pockets, making them more filling.
90s meals weren’t all premade and packaged. Some were made by parents instead, including the classic bologna sandwiches. These were normally made with white bread and sometimes little else.
While the sandwiches have never tasted amazing, they were a common lunchtime staple. That’s partly because bologna was so cheap, making the sandwiches perfect for families on a tight budget. The shelf life of bologna helped matters as well, especially as many other types of lunch meat don’t last nearly as long.
Yoplait Trix Yogurt
In the 90s, Trix Yogurts were vibrant two-tone treats that kids could mix as much or as little as they wanted. The bright colors aren’t surprising, given that the yogurts were a direct spin off from Trix Cereal.
Trix Yogurt was discontinued in 2016, but Yoplait has since given into strong customer demand to re-release it. The colors and cup design of the re-released version even mimic that of the original version, which is great news for kids of the 90s.
Planters Cheez Balls
Planter’s Cheez Balls are another product that’s been recently revitalized (after being discontinued in 2006). The bright orange snacks were a classic 90s food for many, leading to orange-colored hands and cheez dust everywhere.
There have been some ingredient changes with the modern version, so the snack is a little different than you might remember. Some reviewers have been completely devastated by the flavor change, while others think that the flavor is just right.
Your experience may be influenced by what you’re expecting. Is a similar treat good enough or do you want the crunchy snacks to be exactly as they were? If you’re in the latter camp, then you’re out of luck. This is true for most other 90s treats as well.
Without a doubt, Uncrustables are sandwiches made for kids. You’ve got soft white bread, delicious fillings, and no crusts to be found. Like many foods on this list, the sandwiches gave busy moms a break and made kids very happy indeed.
The sandwiches are a little odd in that they’re frozen and need to be thawed before eating. Still… doing so is easy, as the frozen sandwiches can be added to a kid’s lunch box and they’ll be thawed by lunch. They’ll also keep other foods cool.
The Uncrustables recipe was changed in 2017 to feature sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup. This makes the treat a little healthier and could improve their flavor. Of course, it also means that sandwiches taste different than they did in the 90s.
Molten Chocolate Lava Cake
Who can forget molten chocolate lava cakes? They started trending in the late 90s, featuring on countless restaurant menus. The popularity is easy to understand, as the cakes have a delicious molten interior that is hard to pass up.
Chocolate lava cakes are still found in some restaurants, not to mention plenty of pizza chains. There are now plenty of recipes for making chocolate lava cakes (like this one). So, you could easily re-create the dessert at home, perhaps for a themed party.
Fruit-flavored treats were common fare in the 90s, including Fruit Roll-Ups. There are basically a flat strip made using sugar and fruit pectin. There were just four flavors originally: Strawberry, cherry, apricot, and apple. Other flavors have been developed since, which make the treats even more attractive.
Early advertising suggested that Fruit Roll-Ups were a healthy snack, but that approach has been scrapped. Instead, the treats are widely recognized as having similar nutritional value as candy.
Other Fruit Snacks
The 90s hosted several other fruit snacks that were just as popular as Fruit Roll-Ups. Fruit by the Foot was one of these. It followed similar principles to Fruit Roll-Ups, except that the fruit was in a long thin strip, much like a roll of tape.
Then there were Fruit Gushers, which were candy through and through. These lived up to their name, as each piece of candy was filled with a gooey center that gushed out as you chewed.
These candies are still going strong today, although they no longer follow the original recipe. Artificial flavors and colors have now been removed, which has altered the flavor somewhat and makes the Fruit Gushers less appealing to 90s kids.
Do you remember the Viennetta? The dessert was only available until the mid-1990s in the United States, but certainly made an impression. It was a step up from ice cream, allowing families to enjoy an inexpensive gourmet dessert in the comfort of their home.
With wavy vanilla ice cream and chocolate layers, it’s easy to understand how this dessert became so popular. The dessert was re-introduced recently, allowing families to enjoy it once again.
However, the new version follows a different recipe, focusing more on additives than the original. This creates a noticeably different flavor profile and makes the dessert much less desirable. You could probably make a better version yourself.
White chocolate didn’t come out in the 90s, nor was it exclusive to that era. It was, however, incredibly popular in the 90s and there were many delicious white chocolate products to choose from.
There were many exciting candies and treats in the 90s, including Ring Pops. There was nothing crazy exciting about the treats – they were simply lollipops on a ring instead of a stick.
It’s hard to say why Ring Pops became as popular as they did, but that’s the nature of customer demand. Ring Pops still pop up today, sometimes trending in unexpected circumstances. Even proposing with a Ring Pop is much more common than you might expect.
Children of the 90s are often disappointed by the 90s snacks on the market today. While many are still the same product from the same brand, they often don’t taste quite right. So, what’s going on?
The first factor is simply that tastebuds change. Foods that taste amazing to kids often don’t taste that great to adults. We start looking for more complex flavors as we age and often less sugar as well.
Still… the food itself has changed too. Companies have been under increasing pressure to make their food healthier, which often means cutting the salt, sugar, and additives.
Some companies also attempt to improve their treats by changing the recipe. Even if the approach does improve the flavor of the treats, they’re no longer the same ones that we knew and loved.
Unfortunately, this means that authentic versions of many 90s snacks are gone forever (unless you have some kicking around in your basement, but those probably aren’t safe to eat).