Just How Bad Were Your Favorite ’90s Junk Foods?
Prepare to be shocked.
You know you loved ’em, we all did. If you were an adolescent with a pulse in the ’90s you probably ate many of these foods or know someone who did. We channeled our inner junk foodie and took a ride back in time to explore some of the epic snack foods that defined a generation — yes, Dunkaroos included. Were they really that bad for us? Find out.
Ring Dings and Ho-Hos
It’s Hostess vs. Drakes in this packaged cake show down. These adorable pastries get to share a headline since they are basically the same thing. Chocolate snack cakes with day-glow white cream filling encased in a glossy well-oiled chocolate shell. Just one of these little cakes weighs in at about 180 calories and includes four to five teaspoons of added sugar, plus 30 percent of the daily limit for artery clogging saturated fats.
The good news: you can still buy these goo-filled chewy snacks at most large chain grocery stores. The bad news: for 80 calories, each pouch is filled with (count ’em) SEVEN different kinds of added sugars and finished off with a cocktail of oils, thickeners and artificial colors. Do your teeth a favor and leave them on the shelf.
They may come in fancier packages nowadays, but Pizza Rolls will always belong to ’90s kids!
Six rolls (and who eats only six?!) add up to 220 calories and 15 percent of the daily recommended amount of sodium . Like many other ’90s faves, these pizza nuggets feature an extensive list of highly processed ingredients including mechanically separated chicken and imitation mozzarella cheese. Doesn’t that sound appetizing?
Sing it with me — you don’t just eat, you dunk-a-roos! This haunting chant was in most kids’ heads for the better part of the ’90s! This dynamic duo of kangaroo cookies and creamy icing is made from a laundry list of ingredients dozens of unpronounceable words long — the icing alone has over 22 ingredients. These tiny pouches have only 110 calories per serving but they’re made from nothing but sugar and more hydrogenated (ahem, unhealthy) fats. Eat just two pouches of these and you’ve already had nearly triple the daily recommended allotment of sugar.
Also known as those fake cheese and cracker packs with the little red sticks, most kids didn’t take a trip to the park without one of these tucked in their backpack. As for the ingredients, you know that wasn’t real cheese (no refrigeration required!?) but did you know it was made from whey protein concentrate, canola oil, maltodextrin and only a smidge of cheddar? These little, hand-held snacks may only have 100 calories but also come with 14 percent of the daily sodium limit . For only 100 calories, that’s a lot of salt.
Remember chowing down on a few of these mini wannabe pizzas? Just eight bites contain 850 milligrams of sodium, which approaches 40 percent of the daily limit — so these snacks are better left back a few decades ago.
A classic for any ’90s snack attack, these round pretzels filled with (…what’s actually in there?) came in various flavors including Cheddar Cheese and the oh-so popular Pepperoni Pizza. Made from mostly wheat and oil — cheese is the 11th ingredient — just nine of these crunchy snacks contain 19 grams of carbs. Eat the whole bag and that’s like eating EIGHT slices of white bread.
The packaging may be fancier but today’s Lunchables are still tightly packed with highly processed crackers, cheese, meats and a sugary treat. Flavor offerings include ham or turkey and American cheese with a couple Double Stuffed Oreo cookies (for 330 calories, 16 grams of fat and 580mg of sodium) or a spin on cold pizza with crackers, cheese, pepperoni and sauce. The “next gen” Lunchables on today’s grocery store shelves have taken the ick factor up a notch offering mini hot dogs, chicken nuggets, sugary drinks and candy. This trifecta of processed foods stacks up to more than eight teaspoons of sugar per serving; a 12-ounce can of soda has about 10. On a scale of 1 to 10, these are… pretty darn bad for you.
Whether you ate that strawberry Fruit Roll-Up flat, rolled or scrunched up in a ball (you know who you are), for 50 calories you got a shiny, chewy edible sheet of not fruit — just corn syrup, pear purée concentrate (again, not fruit and not strawberries!) and palm oil sprinkled with other preservatives and artificial colors.
Oh how ’90s kids loved those chocolate frosted and sprinkle bedazzled brownies from Little Debbie. These petite chocolatey treats serve up nearly 300 calories of basic brownie ingredients including flour and sugar. Those cosmic pieces also offer up a rainbow of artificial colors, sugars and oils.
This popular sipper adorned many a lunchbox during the ’90s — a colorful squishy bottle filled with colorful diluted corn syrup and plenty of artificial colors and flavors. PASS!
Many a kiddo shoved their fingers, hands and faces into these tiny packets of sweet-tart sugar and nothing but sugar. Just one packet of this tart powder, plus the stick of course, is equal to a little more than three sugar packets (the kind you put in coffee). In truth there was more to be found in these tiny envelopes like food dyes and anticaking agents. You don’t need a nutrition expert to confirm that these are bad news.
The classic dessert that just won’t stop! Those cakes that never go stale (they’ve tested it on YouTube) weight in at 260 calories and contain nearly as much added sugar as a whole bottle of soda.