Fashion in the 80s left a little to be desired but food? Totally unhealthy and totally yum! Which of these randoms do you remember?
Now that Valentine’s and President’s Day are both over, we enter into the Holiday doldrums in the United States until Memorial Day in May. In the northeast that means we have at least 27 3/4 more years of winter/spring/winter/spring/winter/touch of monsoon/winter/kiss of summer/winter before the temperature raises to above 70 around June 30. To keep our spirits up and our sanity in check, I propose we all go out for a drink,
No, not that kind. I’m talking a nice retro Soda! And opening up conveniently for this ridiculous cycle of Mother Nature is Rocket Fizz in the Homestead Waterfront right between Burgatory and Charming Charlie. Yeah, there’s actually a space I never noticed before there (though I have to wonder if this is some sort of time portal that opened up to bring us sodas from the past….it’s very Doctor Who. A bit bigger on the inside if you know what I mean) and it extends seemingly forever once you get inside. The massive rows of both retro and house sodas will dazzle you (the prices might make you step back but I’m not suggesting you come every day), the cute candy displays will bring out the ballerina in you to toe-dance by without knocking over rows of Astronaut ice cream (did it), and the vintage signs just might make it onto your porch.
Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop is a franchise dating back to 2007 under ownership of Rob Powells and Ryan Morgan with Rich Shanae stepping onboard as CEO in 2012. The company has stores in several states and is presently the largest soda and candy franchise in the country. You may have seen it featured on Undercover Boss (the episode with Major Peduto) with Rob Powells dropping in to check out the troops. I don’t watch that show but what I can tell you after a few recent visits is that the shop surely has something for everyone. Which is really nice because the Waterfront is full of boutique-y shops that cater to one population. Like Starbucks. You don’t give your kids coffee. Neither are you going to bring 90 year old pap pap to buy him a $5 coffee. because his teeth would fall out at the price. And the Children’s Place. People without kids turn back now. Or Yankee Candle or Bath and Body Works or Ulta or Ethan Allen. All of these are nice stores but frankly they’re for women between certain ages. Claires is for kids of certain ages. You get my point.
You can take your kids into Rocket Fizz after school or after a show over at AMC Loews’ or on a ‘sick day’ (we’re not telling) and buy em a cool soda. You can take Pap-Pap in and let him remember buying a Nehi Grape as a kid for 5cents or you Mum a Boylan’s cola. For you and your fellow 80s children it might be a Dad’s Red Cream Soda or a Raspberry New York Seltzer. Your nephews and nieces might dig a Jones or one of the bizarre specialty sodas such as Ranch Dressing and for the kids there are the always-fun Ramune sodas with the marble in the neck or the mild-tasting Crush or Faygo. And did I mention everything most items are in glass, screw-top bottles? Yeah, sit back and sink one back! According to BizJournals.com, Rocket Fizz goes to great lengths to find new sodas and carries 500 types, including 100 of their own.
It’s not all about soda- there are vintage and modern candies, special edition and international candies, retro toys and vintage tin signs. Look around and you’ll find there’s something everywhere to keep your attention and empty your pocket money. Rocket Fizz is on Facebook and Twitter so go on over and give em a like and a follow.
So, when’s the last time you tipped back a Clearly Canadian, chilling in front of Nick at Nite all cool like your older brother sneaking a Bartles and Jaymes from the back of the fridge where your mother kept the ‘soft’ drinks? Yeah I can’t remember either, mainly because I didn’t live with my older brother. However, I’m pretty sure you may recall stopping at the corner store on the way home from school and using your lunch money for a New York Seltzer. Chocolate was my favourite (yes, people fight me on this but they did make chocolate and we bought them from Loblaws, which, incidentally, is where we got Clearly Canadian of course).
Well get your pocket money ready (or debit card as the case may be) because both are back in production. Power to the People! Clearly Canadian’s website is not so clear on the when or the how you can pre-order but simply urges us to order in a kickstarter-like campaign that has apparently fulfilled it’s goal. The Facebook site was last updated in April with a shot of the bottle moulds but nothing more clear than that. As for New York Seltzer, you can buy that through the site in limited flavours right HERE. Their Facebook site indicates the drinks will be available in stores as well and to check back for states carrying. Vanilla cream, here I come.
Character cereals were the thing in the 80s and we’re all lucky in the case of Strawberry Shortcake they stopped making cereals after Strawberry Shortcake and Orange Blossom or I think we’d still be trying to catch em all. These were those types of cereals that were novel; they tasted okay but nothing to write home about and they turned the milk pink or light orange…yeehaw. Blueberry Muffin got a reprieve from cereal but she had her own muffin mix because she’s…Blueberry…Muffin. Yeah.
Another one of our parents’ great ideas was to give us ice cream at breakfast. Well, not quite but in the same vein as a bowl of little donuts before school, the popular Ice Cream Cones cereal was just a bowl of dry ice cream…cones. This 1987 cereal came in Vanilla and Chocolate Chip varieties, was hawked by ice cream man Ice Cream Jones and tasted like decent little waffle cones if lacking a little in the actual ice cream department. Someone caught on to the idea ice cream might not be the best idea in the breakfast department and the cereal was discontinued also in 1987 until 2003 when Ice Cream Cones got redesigned and hit the shelves once again to celebrate the 100th year of the ice cream cone itself. Since then parents have again decided ice cream cones for breakfast might not be the healthiest idea.
Hostess, makers of 80s lunchbox favourites Twinkies, Ding Dongs, HoHos, Fruit Pies, Pudding Pies, Snowballs (white and pink), Suzy Qs, CupCakes (chocolate, vanilla and orange), and Zingers amongst others, has had quite a rebranding in recent years when America as a whole clutched its chest when the biggest news to hit snack food history since WWII sugar rationing shook us to the core: Twinkies were being discontinued.
Hostess Captain Cupcake and Twinkie the Kid courtesy PhakeNam
Let’s back up a bit: Hostess started in 1919 manufacturing those beloved little CupCakes. Their parent company, Continental Baking Company, began way back in 1849 under the name Ward Baking Company after founder Robert Boyd Ward and was later renamed Continental by his grandson in 1925. You’ll know Continental as the bakers who brought the world Wonder Bread which would forever make best friend out of Transformers lunch boxes and balogney sandwiches. Though the Hostess division only made CupCakes to start, they branched out obviously into other goodies up until 1995 when Contintental was taken over by Interstate Bakeries Corporation and by 2009 became Hostess Brands.
2012 was that terrible year Hostess disappeared from grocery stores following workers strikes, factory closings, bankruptcy, and rising prices on ingredients. Rumour was that other companies might buy and remarket individual Hostess favourites but the company pulled it together in time for a triumphant return to the shelves in summer 2013 now run by Apollo Management and C. Dean Metropoulous (with a collective sigh of relief across the land).
The controversial but beloved Twinkie is seen across the world as everything that’s wrong with American cuisine (besides chicken nuggets) and seen in the US as everything that’s right. Sounds good- “golden sponge cake with creamy filling” and apparently Canada and Mexico think so too- they have their own dedicated production plants. Invented in 1930, Twinkies were originally made with banana cream filling and got their name when baker James Alexander Dewar saw a St. Louis billboard for “twinkle toed shoes.” O–kaaaaaaaaaaaay.
Just what is Twinkie? courtesy Truemajik777
In WWII bananas were rationed and consequently yanked from the cream recipe leaving us with the vanilla goodness that survived to this day. 80s kids will recall a fruit and cream version from 1988 with strawberry swirled into the cream. Yeah, that didn’t do so well.
Popular legend states that Twinkies were created from a happy accident in the Ready Brek plant after explosion #2,246 and thus can survive nuclear holocausts (No, I made that Ready Brek part up- not the other)- or something like that because of their fabulous shelf life. Hostess says, “Um, no.” (official quote) and let’s be honest, we’d still be scarfing them anyway, bragging to our pals about how we glow in the dark now. However, officially Twinkies’ shelf life did increase from 26 days to 45 days in 2012 when Twinkies were planning their comeback to world domination. And let’s do the math -Chernobyl happened in 1986 and tours began in 2002 so you figure out how that shelf life got so long- uh huh? Is there a giant Twinkie cooking up in Reactor 4?
Other snack giants under the Hostess label are Dolly Madison (joined in 2013) whose claim to modern fame are Zingers (chocolate, vanilla and those wierd red ones with the shredded coconut coating) and Flower Foods whom you’ve probably never heard of but they’ve heard of you and have sold you some of their famous wares most surely- Little Debbie, Sunbeam, Nature’s Own, Mrs. Freshley’s, Bluebird, Mi Casa, and Tasty Cake. Try not to drool when I say Kandy Kakes- oh I caught ya.
I can’t say that I ever had the pleasure of chomping on the tortilla crisps from Keebler that were Keebler Suncheros but I sure remember the adverts with an American Indian gentleman singing away as he crunched on a bag that Suncheros were light and crispy cause they’re made by pequeños Keebleros! Goofball.
Introduced in 1988, Suncheros were part of Keebler’s answer to Frito-Lay‘s millions-maker Ruffles chips along with O’Boises and Ripplins to round out it’s foray out of sweet stuff and into salty snacks. Suncheros came in 3 flavours: original, salsa and nacho and were billed as being ‘cholesterol free’ and ‘lighter’ and ‘thinner’ than regular tortilla chips on the market. In 1988 a 7oz bag cost $1.49.
Suncheros ad courtesy Gary Flavin
For the longest time my tongue had a memory of these little kid-style Oreos and then I remembered one day- they were called Giggles. I in particular liked to pull one apart and eat the halves, then eat the next one whole and then pull apart, etc to make sure I got every possible taste experience. You could say I really liked those cookies.
And I don’t know about you, but I never found those to be happy looking. In fact I must have been a hungry kid because frankly at my age now I’m not into eating things that are leering at me planning to destroy me from the inside out a’la Alien.
Giggles came from Nabisco and featured 2-tone cream on the inside with those serial-murder smiles etched into their cookie bits. “Two kinds of creme in each funny face” that will crawl back up out of your belly in the night and kill your whole family. Let’s see if you ever sneak from the cookie jar AGAIN.
Giggles 1987 advert courtesy WishItWas1984