How '90s School Lunches Led Directly To Hipster Foods
Before they were donuts, they were sweet fried pastries called loukoumades, given out in Ancient Greece to winners of the Olympic Games. Likewise, before they were croissants, they were an Austrian cookie called kipfel. And before they were French Fries, they were potatoes fried up by Belgians when the country's rivers froze over and no fish were to be had. Clearly, our most beloved foodstuffs began life in much different forms than they currently take, and this is especially true for hipster snacks.
These snacks, however, were inspired by an unlikely source: the school lunch trends of the 1990s. Yes, those lovable ladies in hairnets and plastic gloves served up the cuisine that would evolve into the popular millennial foods of today. With some of these foods, the connections are obvious; with others, some creative connecting of the dots is required. But the case can safely be made that the hipstery snacks and culinary millennial mainstays purchased at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's - or included as part of a meal-prep kit - are often rooted in a '90s-era school lunchroom.
Millennials may "ruin" some things, but like all of their favorite '90s memes and callbacks, these hipster foods are here to stay.
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Lunchables Became Charcuterie BoardsPhoto: Oscar Mayer / Wikimedia Commons / Fair Use
Thanks to Lunchables, we were prepared quite early in life for the coming popularity of charcuterie boards. You can trace a more or less clear line between the single-serving crackers and meat and cheese squares of Lunchables with those creative pilings of meats, cheeses, and assorted accompaniments on a large platter.
Lunchables were "like a low-end version of a Parisian picnic," as one millennial described them. Charcuterie boards are just Lunchables all grown up.
- 289 VOTES
Kudos Became KIND BarsPhoto: Mars, Incorporated / KIND Snacks / Fair Use
Kudos are granola bars that most '90s kids grew up eating. Even though Kudos are still around, millennials have moved on to KIND bars, which has ingredients more focused on whole, healthy foods and minimal processing.
This makes sense, considering millennials drive the healthier snack food market. They were also instrumental in getting KIND bars released in a smaller, snack-size variety.
- 379 VOTES
Peanut Butter Bars Became Protein Bars
If you grew up in the 1990s, you'll recognize this favorite school lunch dessert: lunchlady-made peanut butter bars. Most schools followed the same general recipe, and these little jolts of sugary, peanut butter deliciousness graduated into protein bars as millennials came of age.
Today's bars are much healthier and made with more natural ingredients, but millennials are the driving force behind the high-protein bar revolution - thanks in part, perhaps, to cafeteria peanut butter bars.
- 494 VOTES
Dippin' Dots Became Unicorn Food
Unicorn food is a culinary trend that has gained traction. It's basically any bright, pastel-colored, often-glitter-bombed food, ranging from cupcakes and cookies to Starbucks's famous limited-edition Unicorn Frappucino.
All this unicorn love may well have its source in millennials' lingering affection for the ice cream treat of their youth, the almighty Dippin' Dots. Memories of those itty-bitty frozen balls of goodness are hard to surpress.
- 584 VOTES
Tater Tots Became Sweet Potato Fries
Who didn't love those crispy puffs of potato heaven that were the culinary strongholds of the school lunchroom? Cooked to a golden brown, tater tots were served atop casseroles and as a side dish.
Millennials, however, have likely taken note that white potatoes are super-high in carbs, which is why they've made the transition to sweet potato fries.
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Fruitopia Became LaCroixPhoto: The Coca-Cola Company / LaCroix / Fair Use
Fruitopia juice beverages were a slightly more mature take on Little Hug Fruit Barrels, and it was that maturity that likely helped them evolve into the millennials' eventual taste for LaCroix. LaCroix is one of those love-it-or-hate-it products, and millennials love it.
Among the millennial palette, the hippie-inspired names and flavors of Fruitopia (Strawberry Passion, Kiki Karma) grew into the more sedate names and flavors of LaCroix (key lime, coconut, peach-pear).