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Facts About Discontinued '90s Snacks We're Still Craving Today

June 22, 2021 932 votes 154 voters 14k views10 items

List RulesVote up the most delicious facts about these discontinued '90s snacks.

Ah, to be young again, and with a metabolism that can forgive a breakfast of French Toast Crunch, a lunch of Doritos 3D and WOW potato chips, and a tall glass of Fruitopia with every meal. The 21st century has been a much more enlightened era, what with its reduced servings of sugar and using all-natural ingredients. But for anyone with a sweet tooth, the 1990s offered an abundance of riches.

Many '90s lunchbox items, such as Squeezits and Life Savers Holes, seem to be gone for good. Other discontinued foods, like Crispy M&Ms, Oreo O's, and Surge, have been revived in the 2010s and '20s. The following facts about '90s snacks may make your mouth water with fond memories. Vote up the tastiest trivia of those bygone years.

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    Lay's WOW Chips Were A Huge Success - Until Consumers Got The Runs

    When Frito-Lay released WOW Chips in 1998, they became the best-selling new product in the United States. It's easy to understand why: One ounce of WOW Chips contained 0 grams of fat and 75 calories, a marked reduction from the 10 grams of fat and 150 calories of one ounce of regular chips. Americans gobbled up $347 million in WOW Chips that year.

    As it turns out, WOW was able to reduce its fat content by replacing it with olestra - a molecule too large to be digested. That's good for your hips but bad for your social life, because consumption of olestra can cause "abdominal cramping, diarrhea, fecal incontinence, and other gastrointestinal symptoms."

    WOW Chips became the center of one of the biggest PR disasters in snack food history when its miracle molecule turned out to cause "orange-yellow 'globules' of oil" to seep out of consumers' rear ends. 

    WOW Chips were rebranded as "Light" chips but kept the olestra. Ruffles Light and Lays Light were discontinued by 2016.

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  • To an objective observer, Oreo O's is a cereal that is one step removed from Little Chocolate Doughnuts, the parody cereal endorsed by John Belushi in a 1977 sketch for Saturday Night Live. (That one step is that it's actually a real cereal.) But Oreo O's, released in 1997, wasn't discontinued due to any nutritional deficit. It was the casualty of a corporate split.

    According to Business Insider, when Post separated from Kraft Foods Group in 2007, it lost the right to use the Oreo recipe for its cereal (because Oreo is a Kraft product). However, Oreo O's lived on in South Korea, where its production was overseen in part by General Foods Corporation, which was acquired by Kraft. 

    The South Korean version of Oreo O's included small Oreo filling-flavored marshmallows, and boxes of the stuff once sold on eBay for as much as $226.80.

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    Bubble Beepers Stirred Controversy Because Of Their Association With Drug Dealers

    Perhaps the most '90s of all these discontinued products, Bubble Beepers (sort of) resembled beepers and contained 17 sticks of gum labeled with alphanumeric messages.

    For those born after this decade, beepers (or pagers) were wireless devices that could only send and receive text messages. They've largely been phased out by cell phones, but are still in use among emergency service workers. Those are certainly good role models, but in the 1990s, another group of folks was also identified with pagers: drug dealers.

    Parents and anti-drug groups were outraged by Bubble Beepers. In 1992, John Wilder, a former head of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration in Philadelphia, PA, told the Philadelphia Daily News the candy was "irresponsible." He went further, warning that any child wearing this beeper in public was in danger of being bumped off:

    No question about it, because what if it's misinterpreted, and this kid goes through someone's turf wearing that beeper, and they misinterpret that beeper? It could possibly cause someone to lose their life or get hurt. [...] To me, it's similar to carrying a toy gun. If it looks real, you may have to pay the consequences.

    Joann Schellenbach, a spokeswoman for the American Cancer Society, compared Bubble Beepers to candy cigarettes. "We think they have a negative effect because they encourage kids to imitate behavior that is harmful to them," she told the Morning Call.

    Even as late as 1998, the Observer wrote that the Bubble Beeper "resembles a pager for kids who aspire to become drug dealers."

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  • Photo: Doritos / Fair Use

    Launched in 1998 and then discontinued in 2004, Doritos 3D had a relatively limited shelf life. Neither Frito-Lay nor its parent company, PepsiCo, disclosed why the three-dimensional chips were canceled, but fan outcry finally convinced the powers-that-be to bring them back.

    In late 2020, Doritos 3D was recalled from retirement. Tech Times reports that the "relaunch happened as a response to a huge wave of online petitions and social media buzz to bring back" the popular '90s snack.

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