Thursday, February 21, 2008

Since You've Been Gone: Discontinued, Rebranded, and Changed for the Worse (Part IV)

After three posts about dearly departed foods, I conclude this series on discontinued, rebranded, and changed food. Please feel free to continue to chatter about this topic, though!

This final installation will deal with foods from my middle childhood, consisting of the years 1990-1995. The items below were some of my favorite snack foods, things I'd bring in my lunch to school or munch on after getting home from school.

I don't think Nabisco Zings "cracker chips" were around for more than a year or two. I clearly remember sitting on a beanbag chair in the corner of my second-grade classroom, reading a book and snacking on a Ziploc baggy-ful of Zings. The Z-shaped crackers were ranch-flavored and packed a zippy punch. Because they were baked, my mom sent me to school w/these as a snack, not feeling too guilty about what she was letting me eat. As for the items below? Well, she probably felt kinda guilty about them... (No photo included 'cause there doesn't appear to be one online. There is textual documentation of these zingy crackers, though.)

Keebler rules. I mean, freakin' elves make such delicacies as Fudge Stripe and Grasshopper cookies! Those pointy-shoed sprites once made chips called O'Boises. O'Boises are quite possibly in my top 5 chips of all time. In BBQ, sour cream and onion, and plain (my favorite) flavors, O'Boises were really salty, really light, and really bubbly. Yes, bubbly. Each chip was covered with lots of small air pockets, resulting in an extremely light and crunchy consistency. The bubbles ranged in size from tiny to thumbnail-sized, and while some of the bubbles broke while the chips bounced around in the bag, most of them remained intact. The burst-bubble bits and other broken pieces ended up at the bottom of the bag, and they tasted every bit as good as the whole chips. I haven't seen a chip like this since, and, sadly, I doubt I'll see one again. Shame. (Photo courtesy of Flickr user englishkris.)

Okay, I don't even remember the name of these things, but they were really quite tasty. Keebler may have made them...but maybe not. (Off to a good, helpful start here, huh?) Anyway, these were basically shortbread cookies studded w/a sole Hershey Kiss. Each cookie was kinda crispy and kinda sandy, and was a little larger in diameter to a half dollar. It was poofy, too, but didn't have any sort of the softness or moistness you'd expect from a taller cookie. In the center of each cookie, a Hershey Kiss was inserted, topping off the not-too-sweet shortbread w/a great rush of chocolate and sugar. Eating the cookie away from the Kiss was my modus operandi, as I didn't care so much about the cookie as I did the Kiss. The Kiss had a few little bumps on the bottom; my guess is that the cookie had indentations in it so when the Kiss was inserted, the two would stick together better. These came two or three to a package (don't remember), with numerous packages in a box. I have memories of eating these, too, in class. I was kind enough to share them with Robert Schultz, who was grumpy even as an eight-year-old. (The photo is what the cookies looked like, but isn't actually them. Photo courtesy of www.cookies4alloccasions.com.)

My mom used to buy Handi-Snacks at Sam's Club when I was younger 'cause I ate the things like Kobayashi eats hot dogs. During summer 1994, I brought one or two w/me to camp each day to eat as a snack or as part of my lunch. On some days, I probably had three or four packs of these a day. Yep, that's right. If you do the math, that's 12-16 crackers and about 3-4 oz. of "processed cheese food." At some point, though, Kraft bought the Nabisco product and then changed the cheese, the bright orange stuff I smeared onto the buttery crackers using that famous little red, plastic stick. When Kraft began making Handi-Snacks, the cheese changed. The old cheese used to be kind of light w/some bubbly sponginess to it (sounds weird, but it worked); the new cheese is heavy, goopy, and solid. The old cheese wasn't too pungent; the new cheese tastes strongly of fake cheese and dirty feet. The old cheese was a light orange color; the new cheese is a darker orange that looks more like something you'd expect from Tropicana. In all, the Kraft cheese is a complete disappointment, ruining Handi-Snacks for me forever. Oh, and nothing against Ritz crackers, but the original crackers were NOT Ritz, so the current Kraft product--Ritz crackers and whack-ass cheese--is a complete fraud. After buying and trying the Kraft version a few years ago, I ended up throwing out the remaining packages in the box 'cause, yeah, the cheese is that bad. (Photo courtesy of www.lanaihello.com.)

Although this is my last post in the "Since You've Been Gone" series, I encourage you to keep posting comments about your favorite discontinued, rebranded, and changed foods. I know that foods from my youth like O'Boises will forever be stuck in my brain and on my palate, so please share your thoughts and memories!

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nic--have i told you that i just love this blog?! It is so awesome and so are you. I had to write and let you know that I saw chocolate ravioli today and thought of you. (In the Italian Store)
Miss you!!!!
Rachel

Anonymous said...

oh how i miss the old handi snacks.... *sigh*

Monica said...

why did i just find this blog? i need to go and write an homage to hostess choco-bliss now and jolly rancher gummies. discontinuing those items was a really bad move.

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Aaron Paul & Amanda said...

So O'Boisies are back. They aren't made by Keebler any more, but I just had a bag of them at my school, and they took me back to Lawton, Oklahoma where my mother bought them for me when I was in Kindergarten. I am going to buy all of them out of the snack machine and take them home. I want to introduce them to my kids.

BatsNeedFriends@gmail.com said...

The Shortbread/Hershey Kiss cookies were called Sweet Spots... I loved this when I was little and sadly can't find out much online about them. They were made by Keebler (similar to their Sandies Fudge Drops)
"Sweet Spots, marketed by Keebler as "the little shortbread cookie with the big drop on top," were introduced nationally in early April 1992."
Hope this helps!!

Anonymous said...

O'Boises were the best. I found some randlmoly at a convenience store last year, but they were not nearly as good as they used to be. I was so happy and then so disappointed!
Sweet Spots were also a fave of mine. Now I make my own with storebought cookie dough and Hershey's Kisses. Not quite the same, but still pretty awesome.

Anonymous said...

Documentation of Zings, with a (low-quality) picture!

A 1992 newspaper article about the launch of two new flavors (in addition to whatever Original was): cheddar and ranch.
scan with picture: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=336&dat=19920512&id=h58pAAAAIBAJ&sjid=WoQDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6737,5916111
text only: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/226210/ZINGS-ZS-WIDE-AWAKE-WITH-FLAVOR.html?pg=all

PS: From a similar timeframe, I also loved the really-original Wheatables, released in 1990:
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/114956/NEW-WHEATABLES-ARE-ALL-THEYRE-CRACKED-UP-TO-BE.html?pg=all
...until they changed just about everything except their shape in 1998: http://business.highbeam.com/137330/article-1G1-50250585/keebler-puts-9m-into-wheatables

I miss them both. :(