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What Food Product Came Out the Year You Were Born?

From Cheerios to Sour Patch Kids, we're sharing decades of food innovation!

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york peppermint patty on green backgroundevemilla/Getty Images

1940: York Peppermint Patties

“When I bite into a York Peppermint Pattie…”

We have Henry Kessler, owner of the York Cone Company in Pennsylvania, to thank for this candy sensation: a cool, peppermint center coated in dark chocolate. Kessler insisted that his candies pass the “snap” test by splitting cleanly down the middle when broken. Learn the most popular candy the year you were born

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Bowl of cheerios breakfast cereal and polka dot napkin with spoon on wood backgroundNatalia Ganelin/Getty Images

1941: Cheerios

The cereal got its start as CheeriOats and was the first ready-to-eat oat cereal made by puffing and shaping the grains. A few years later, after a copyright dispute with Quaker Oats, General Mills changed the name to Cheerios. It’s been a favorite breakfast cereal ever since!

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Brooklyn Blackout CakeTaste of Home

1942: Brooklyn Blackout Cake

Indulgence doesn’t even begin to describe this rich, chocolate-layer cake—one of the most popular desserts made by Ebinger’s, a Brooklyn-based bakery chain. Named for the mandatory wartime blackouts in the city, the Brooklyn Blackout Cake is layered with chocolate pudding and fudgy icing. The bakery closed in the 1970s, and the original Ebinger’s recipe still remains a secret.

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Closeup of a sliced deep dish sausage pizza on a wooden platterchas53/Getty Images

1943: Deep-Dish Pizza

Looking to distinguish his pizza from the typical thin-crust slices available at the time, Ike Sewell, owner of Pizzeria Uno (the original restaurant in Chicago) created something unique. He came up with deep-dish pizza: a thick cake-like crust with a crispy exterior and cheese layered under sauce and veggies. It’s still an iconic regional pizza style beloved by Chicago residents. Find out the most popular cooking show the year you were born.

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frozen dinner on plaid tableclothJamie Grill Photography/Getty Images

1944: Frozen Dinners

Though it would be another decade before they’d be renamed “TV dinners,” frozen prepackaged dinner trays got their start in 1944. They were created by avid inventor William L. Maxson for the U.S. Navy’s transatlantic flights. He also invented the first air fryer, to cook the frozen dinners on those flights.

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Air Fryer Nashville Hot ChickenTaste of Home

1945: Nashville Hot Chicken

Nashville-style hot chicken is popular now but was created decades ago thanks to a lover’s quarrel. When Thornton Prince’s girlfriend found out he was cheating on her, she retaliated by spiking his fried chicken with a hefty dose of spicy cayenne pepper. Her plan backfired—because Prince loved it! He perfected the recipe and opened Prince’s Hot Chicken in Nashville.

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nutella jartraveler1116/Getty Images

1946: Nutella

Wartime rations in the ’40s meant that cocoa was scarce, so baker and confectioner Pietro Ferrero got creative. Hazelnuts were grown abundantly where he lived in the Piedmont region of Italy, so Ferrero blended cocoa with hazelnut paste. The delectable spread began as a sliceable loaf called Giandujot, and was renamed Nutella in 1964. You might want to know the most popular toy the year you were born.

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Bazooka bubble gumrobtek/Getty Images

1947: Bazooka Gum

This pink brick of bubble gum debuted after World War II. It had a wrapper of patriotic red, white and blue, with a name likely in homage to the weapon developed during the war. The mascot “Bazooka Joe” and a comic strip inside every piece were added a few years later. Find more candy brands we all loved as kids.

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can of reddi wip toppingmemoriesarecaptured/Getty Images

1948: Reddi-wip Whipped Cream

Many thanks to entrepreneur Aaron “Bunny” Lapin, who created the whipped cream we love to spray on sundaes, slices of pie, and straight into our mouths! He was the first to use real cream in a pre-packaged whipped cream product, and he also patented his fluted spray nozzle design.

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vintage Mcdonalds Meal Fairfax Media Archives/Getty Images

1949: McDonald’s Fries

It’s hard to believe, but McDonald’s hamburgers were originally served with chips! The irresistible, savory flavor of McDonald’s fries came from frying in beef tallow, which continued until 1990 when the public sought to reduce saturated fats in their diets. A switch to vegetable oil accomplished this, but fans still miss that original flavor.

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Raw Frozen Pizza with Pepporoni on wood backgroundStockImages_AT/Getty Images

1950: Frozen Pizza

Though we know that the first frozen pizzas were created in 1950, who came up with the idea first is a little fuzzier.  Neighborhood pizzerias in both Boston and New York City began selling frozen pies for customers to take home. The earliest brands to appear in stores were De Luca, Celentano Brothers, and Pizza-Fro.

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Bananas Foster Sundaes For 2Taste of Home

1951: Bananas Foster

This boozy, flaming dessert of bananas, brown sugar, rum, liqueur, and ice cream was created in New Orleans at the famous Brennan’s Restaurant. The owner wanted a new and unusual dessert—and fortunately, there were heaps of bananas in the kitchen. The inspiration to ignite the dessert came from another popular treat of the time: Baked Alaska.

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two glasses of clear diet soda with limebhofack2/Getty Images

1952: Diet Soda

The first sugar-free soda to appear on the scene was No-Cal, which was initially created as a drink for diabetics and later marketed to diet-conscious consumers. Other soft drink companies followed suit, with drinks like Tab, Diet Rite, and Diet Pepsi. (Diet Coke wouldn’t appear until a few decades later.)

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boxes of eggo waffles in a grocery store freezerAndrew Burton/Getty Images

1953: Eggo Waffles

How did three brothers famous for their mayonnaise business create an iconic frozen waffle? Through a lot of innovation, and a keen understanding of food trends—particularly, consumers’ desire for frozen convenience foods. The original name was “Froffles” (frozen + waffles), but later changed to Eggo for the eggy flavor. The famous catchphrase “L’eggo My Eggo” was coined in the ’70s.

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pink marshmallow peeps birds in packagesWilliam Thomas Cain/Getty Images

1954: Marshmallow Peeps

Bob Born already had a candy empire in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania when he bought out a small confectionery and its signature marshmallow chicks. The original candies were made by hand, but in 1954 Born invented a machine to mass-produce his Peeps. Now the company, Just Born, makes about 4 million Peeps every day!

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Homemade Green Bean Casserole topped with French crispy fried onionsfrom_my_point_of_view/Getty Images

1955: Green Bean Casserole

Can you believe there used to be Thanksgiving without green bean casserole? We have home economist Dorcas Reilly, who worked for the Campbell Soup test kitchen, to thank for this recipe. To create an easy dish with ingredients most cooks would have on hand, she chose canned cream of mushroom soup, canned or frozen green beans, and fried onions. Her original recipe card now resides in the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame.

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Spoon with cocoa puffs cereal and milkPhotosiber/Getty Images

1956: Cocoa Puffs

What’s not to love about a sweet cereal that turns the milk chocolaty? General Mills had already given kids tasty cereals like Trix, Chex, and Cheerios before introducing these chocolate corn puffs to the breakfast table. The mascot, Sonny the Cuckoo Bird, debuted in the early ’60s.

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burger king Whopper And SodaGrzegorz Czapski/Shutterstock

1957: The Whopper

For only 37 cents, you could enjoy Burger King’s flame-broiled Whopper, a quarter-pound burger with all the fixings. Burger King co-founder Jim McLamore created the Whopper to compete with other local burger joints offering extra-large burgers. (This was more than a decade before McDonald’s offered the Big Mac!)

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boxes of rice-a-roni on a shelf in the grocery store Kevin Schafer/Getty Images

1958: Rice-A-Roni

“The San Francisco treat!” The DeDomenico family founded Golden Grain Pasta Co. in the early 1900s. One of the founders learned a savory rice pilaf recipe from his Armenian landlord: rice and vermicelli sauteed in butter, then simmered in chicken broth. He cleverly turned it into a boxed side dish, and Rice-A-Roni quickly became a household name.

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1959: Little Caesar’s Pizza

Mike and Marian Ilitch spent their life savings to open “Little Caesar’s Pizza Treat” in Garden City, Michigan, with a focus on inexpensive pizza made with quality ingredients. By 1969, they had a thriving string of franchises in the United States and Canada, and have continued to grow ever since. Here’s a fun fact: “Little Caesar” was Marian’s nickname for her husband!

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Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme PiesCourtesy McKee Foods Corporation

1960: Oatmeal Creme Pies

The very first Little Debbie snack cake has certainly stood the test of time. The founder of McKee Baking Company, O.D. McKee, spent years perfecting his recipe to get oh-so-soft oatmeal cookies, and he sandwiched them with a sweet, creamy filling. The adorable little girl on the boxes is O.D.’s granddaughter, Debbie. See what other famous food brand figures look like in real life.

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can of sprite lemon lime sodaasbe/Getty Images

1961: Sprite

The origin of lemon-lime Sprite soda is straightforward: Coca-Cola created it to compete with 7-Up. But did you know the name came from an old Coke character named “Sprite Boy”? The company stopped using this elfin mascot in 1958 but thought the name Sprite was perfect for their new soda.

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goldfish crackersTiger-Images/Shutterstock

1962: Goldfish Crackers

Pepperidge Farm was already famous for its bread and cookies when founder Margaret Rudkin traveled to Switzerland and discovered the cutest little fish-shaped crackers. The baker there had created them for his wife, whose zodiac sign was Pisces. Rudkin brought the recipe to the states and cheesy Goldfish crackers quickly won fans—including Julia Child.

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package of chips ahoy original chocolate chip cookiesmemoriesarecaptured/Getty Images

1963: Chips Ahoy!

From the beginning, Nabisco promised that every Chips Ahoy! cookie would have 16 chocolate chips. In the ’80s, that number doubled to 32. There have even been nationwide chip challenges to confirm that every bag has at least 1,000 chips. You’ll want to know these best chocolate chip cookie recipes if you love Chips Ahoy!

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boxes of strawberry pop-tarts on a walmart shelfGeri Lavrov/Getty Images

1964: Pop-Tarts

This is every kid’s favorite breakfast! Post and Kellogg’s were racing to be the first to introduce this morning treat to the market, and Kellogg’s won. Pop-Tarts were a big hit with busy kids—and parents. The name was inspired by Andy Warhol’s pop art movement of the 1960s.

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package of kraft singles american cheese slicesmemoriesarecaptured/Getty Images

1965: Kraft Singles

Canadian brothers James and Norman Kraft had already spent 50 years perfecting their processed, pasteurized, shelf-stable cheese. In 1950, they invented a method to sell presliced loaves of cheese product, and 15 years later added the convenience we now take for granted: individually wrapped slices.

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Doritos nachos seen at the grocery storeSOPA Images/Getty Images

1966: Doritos

You might be surprised to learn that when Doritos were first released by Frito Lay, they didn’t have that famous Doritos flavor—they were just tortilla chips! The nacho cheese flavoring was introduced six years later, and snack lovers were hooked. We’ve had orange, Doritos-stained fingers ever since.

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A Fanta Wild Cherry SlurpeeMediaNews Group/Getty Images

1967: Slurpees

Slurpees appeared in a few 7-Eleven stores in 1966, but by 1967 were available in every location. They became wildly popular thanks to novelty flavor names like Sticky Icky and Pink Fink, plus promotions that included comic book characters and prizes in every cup.

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mcdonalds Big MacGrzegorz Czapski/Shutterstock

1968: Big Mac

The only thing more popular at McDonald’s than the fries? The iconic Big Mac. The sandwich made its debut in 1968, invented by a Pennsylvania franchisee to feed bigger appetites than a single cheeseburger could satisfy. It boasts two burger patties and buns with all the fixings and, of course, that special sauce.

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package of tic tac brand mintsjfmdesign/Getty Images

1969: Tic Tacs

Did you know that Ferrero, the company behind Nutella, also brought Tic Tacs to the world? They were originally sold under the less-than-exciting name of “Refreshing Mints.” Within a year they were renamed for the sound the mints make when they rattle inside the box.

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Box Orville Redenbachers Smart Pop Buttered Darryl Brooks/Shutterstock

1970: Orville Redenbacher Popping Corn

Indiana corn grower Orville Redenbacher had such a wholesome name and look (it was that bow tie!) that people didn’t believe he was an actual person. So he appeared in commercials to prove he was real—and promote his gourmet popping corn. He developed a special variety for the fluffiest, most tender homemade popcorn. See how Orville Redenbacher stacks up in Taste of Home‘s popcorn taste test.

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three sizes of starbucks Frappuccinos Courtesy Starbucks

1971: Starbucks Coffee

What do you get when three roommates share a passion for fine coffee? A world-famous coffee shop empire! The first Starbucks store opened this year in Seattle, selling specialty coffee beans and fine teas. Remarkably, it took 13 years for the business to become what Starbucks is known for today: coffee bars and gourmet coffee drinks.

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mcdonalds egg mcmuffin breakfast sandwich on wrapperJUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES

1972: McDonald’s Egg McMuffin

McDonald’s owes a lot to the creativity of its franchise owners. To entice breakfast customers, owner Herb Peterson layered Canadian bacon, eggs, and cheese on an English muffin. He even created the mold for that innovative round egg.

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Cup Noodles with chopsticks holding up some noodlesYusuke Ide/Getty Images

1973: Cup Noodles

Japanese entrepreneur Momofuku Ando created ramen noodles in 1958 by flash-frying noodles to make them shelf-stable and easy to rehydrate with boiling water. Fifteen years later, he created Cup Noodles: those same ramen noodles with dehydrated vegetables in a convenient cup. Hungry, cash-strapped college students will forever be grateful.

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package of pop rocks candymemoriesarecaptured/Getty Images

1974: Pop Rocks

A research chemist at General Mills was trying to create instant soda by trapping carbon dioxide in candy. He didn’t get his soda, but he instead invented Pop Rocks. Though it took almost 20 years for the crackling candy to be released, kids loved it immediately. Pop Rocks also created an urban legend that persists even today!

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package of famous amos chocolate chip cookiesmemoriesarecaptured/Getty Images

1975: Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies

When former talent agent Wally Amos wanted to sell his “famous” chocolate chip cookies, he got some high-profile help—from singers and friends Marvin Gaye and Helen Reddy. He based his recipe on the cookies his Aunt Della used to make: a simple but satisfying cookie, just like homemade.

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Jelly Belly jellybeans sorted by flavorSmith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

1976: Jelly Belly Jelly Beans

Before this year, jelly beans were a little… meh. Then nut and candy distributor David Klein created gourmet jelly beans with all-natural and intense flavors. He worked with Goetlitz Candy Company to create the first Jelly Belly jelly beans, including Very Cherry and Cream Soda.

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package of bubblicious bubble gummemoriesarecaptured/Getty Images

1977: Bubblicious Bubble Gum

There was a lot of bubble blowing in the late ’70s. With big, soft pieces of bubble gum, Bubblicious promised blowers “the ultimate bubble.” And kids loved the wild flavors, like Lightning Lemonade, Gonzo Grape, and Savage Sour Apple.

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pints of Ben & Jerrys Ice Cream Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Flavor Kevin Schafer/Getty Images

1978: Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

The first Ben & Jerry’s scoop shop opened this year, in a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont. It was an immediate hit, thanks to the creamy richness of their ice cream and big chunks of ingredients like cookie dough and chocolate. The next year they held their first-ever Free Cone Day, and soon after began selling pints in stores.

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1979: Ring Pops

“A ring of flavor you can lick!” A product engineer at the Topps Company created Ring Pops for a surprising reason: to help his young daughter kick her thumb-sucking habit. Not the healthiest incentive, but effective! Ring Pops are one of the most nostalgic candy brands for kids of the ’80s and ’90s.

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1980: Tostitos Tortilla Chips

After introducing tortilla chips (aka Doritos) 14 years earlier, Frito-Lay created this new restaurant-style chip: thin and with a flavor more like the kind found in Mexico. The round shape made them perfect for dipping into salsas and homemade guacamole.

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Lean Cuisine boxes in a freezer Catherine Scola/Getty Images

1981: Lean Cuisine Meals

These frozen microwave dinners were introduced by Nestle as low-calorie alternatives to the popular Stouffer’s entrees. They were an instant hit with a public obsessed with both convenience foods and weight watching—stores across the country quickly sold out.

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Diet Coke can on grassSmith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

1982: Diet Coke

Thirty years after the first low-calorie soda came on the scene, 1982 year saw the debut of what is, arguably, the most popular diet soft drink to date. Coca-Cola executives took a big gamble giving the Coke name to a new product, but it worked. It was quickly endorsed by actors, athletes, and even U.S. presidents.

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box of mcdonalds chicken mcnuggetsCHRIS HONDROS/GETTY IMAGES

1983: Chicken McNuggets

These bite-sized pieces of fried chicken are so ubiquitous, it’s hard to believe they didn’t appear until the ’80s. McDonald’s knew how popular they would be and had to secure a reliable supply of chicken before they could offer them at all locations. McNuggets were an immediate hit—not only with kids but with adults who wanted an alternative to burgers.

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sugar free jello on a spoonWLADIMIR BULGAR/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images

1984: Sugar-Free Jell-O

Desserts weren’t immune from the decade’s preoccupation with weight loss. Jell-O had been a household staple since 1897, but was losing the popularity it had in its heyday of mid-century molded salads. Sugar Free Jell-O, sweetened with NutraSweet, brought customers back with the promise of a flavorful dessert with only 8 calories.

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1985: Sour Patch Kids

The devastatingly sour gummies got their start in Canada—as Martians! When confectioner Frank Galatolie was eyeing the U.S. market, he rebranded his candies to capitalize on the hottest toy of the year: the Cabbage Patch Kids. The gummies were hugely popular and remain so today. Fun fact: The mascot for Sour Patch Kids was modeled after Galatolie’s own son!

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1986: Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn

The hottest appliance of the decade sparked a war: a popcorn war! Pillsbury marketed the first microwave popcorn, followed by stiff competition from Orville Redenbacher. This year saw General Mills stake a claim with Pop Secret, which was unique because it promised that every kernel would pop.

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snapple iced tea bottles in a storeDavid Paul Morris/Getty Images

1987: Snapple Iced Tea

“The Best Stuff on Earth.” Snapple stood apart from other bottled drinks with its casual and fun messaging, not to mention being the best-tasting iced tea available at the time. And remember the “Snapple lady” ads? The company turned office employee Wendy Kaufman into an unlikely but popular spokesperson for the tea.

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box of cinnamon teddy grahams snackmemoriesarecaptured/Getty Images

1988: Teddy Grahams

One of the cutest snacks of the decade has to be Teddy Grahams. The little teddy bear-shaped graham crackers came in three flavors: honey, cinnamon, and chocolate. They were so popular that there was a short-lived cereal version, and a larger frosted version called Dizzy Grizzlies. Happily, you can still get regular Teddy Grahams—and use them to make cute desserts.

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lunchables boxes in a grocery storeJoe Raedle/Getty Images

1989: Lunchables

This was the coolest possible lunch a kid could have at school. The prepackaged Lunchables let kids “make fun of lunch” by assembling their own bologna, cheese, and crackers or mini pizzas. It also helped that every Lunchable had a sweet drink and a mini candy bar.

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campbells cream of broccoli soup in a bowl next to bread, an apple, a drinkkirin_photo/Getty Images

1990: Campbell’s Cream of Broccoli Soup

Fifty-five years after introducing canned cream of mushroom soup, Campbell’s introduced a new variety to households with the same goal: to help home cooks create tasty meals. To that end, Campbell’s offered a free-with-purchase cookbook with broccoli soup recipe ideas.

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1991: Fruit By The Foot

Fruit roll-ups had been around several years, but kids of the ’90s were all about snacking to the extreme. Extreme like a rolled-up, 3-foot-long fruit snack strip! Produced by Betty Crocker, the extra-long fruit roll-ups also came in creative tie-dye and tongue tattoo varieties.

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1992: Dunkaroos

Ask anyone who grew up in the ’90s about nostalgic snacks, and you’re sure to hear about this one. Dunkaroos gave kids vanilla, chocolate, or chocolate chip cookies with a cup of ultra-sweet frosting for dipping. Many childhood dreams were crushed when the snack was discontinued in 2012.

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1993: Snackwell’s Cookies

These cookies appeared just as Americans were getting hooked on low-fat diets. Snackwell’s indulgent devil’s food and creme-filled cookies were on shelves and in TV ads well before the rest of the competition, and netted Nabisco $57 million in sales in the first five months.

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boxes of cereal on a grocery store shelf including Reeses puffsRichard Levine/Getty Images

1994: Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs Cereal

Sugary kids cereals have been inspired by almost everything: cookies, doughnuts, cinnamon toast, even cartoons. But Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs cereal was the first one based on a candy bar. Don’t worry—it’s still “part of this complete breakfast.”

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bowl of m&ms candyDebbiSmirnoff/Getty Images

1995: Blue M&M’s

Before this year, M&M’s colors were green, orange, red, yellow, dark brown… and tan. In 1995, a contest was held for folks to vote for a new color: pink, purple, or blue. Over 10 million people voted and blue won. The fanfare included a new blue M&M’s character and a blue-lit Empire State Building.

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close up of chips made with olean brand fat-free cooking oilJames Leynse/Getty Images

1996: Olestra Fat Substitute

The Food and Drug Administration approved olestra as a food additive, to be marketed as Olean. The additive decreased the calories and fat in food and was used to create many brands of fat-free potato chips. But brands soon faced a backlash over olestra’s unfortunate side effects: very, er, unpleasant gastrointestinal issues.

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mcdonalds McflurryAir Elegant/Shutterstock

1997: McFlurry

We have a Canadian McDonald’s franchise to thank for one of the best McDonald’s treats. The McFlurry blends vanilla soft serve with candy, using a hollow spoon that attaches to the blender before being used to eat it. The original flavors included Oreo, Heath, and Butterfinger—and sometimes we’re treated to new McFlurry flavors.

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1998: Cini Minis

This sweet Burger King breakfast treat developed a cult-like following. The order of four bite-sized cinnamon rolls spread with thick frosting is no longer on the regular menu, but the nostalgia is so strong that occasionally Burger King brings Cini Minis back for brief, delicious appearances. See all the discontinued fast-food items we miss.

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1999: Go-Gurt

Believe it or not, there was once a time when yogurt did not come in tubes. That all changed this year when General Mills debuted Go-Gurt: portable tubes of creamy yogurt in fun flavors and bright colors that quickly won kids over.

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gourmet cupcakes on a trayBen Hider/Getty Images

2000: Gourmet Cupcakes

Just one scene of Carrie and Miranda eating frosted cupcakes on Sex and the City was all it took to spark a national cupcake craze. Manhattan’s Magnolia Bakery had lines around the corner after this episode aired, and gourmet cupcake chains opened across the country. Now, find out the most popular dessert the year you were born.

Taste of Home
Originally Published on Taste of Home

Nancy Mock
Discovering restaurants, tasting bakery treats, finding inspiration in new flavors and regional specialties—no wonder Nancy loves being a food and travel writer. She and her family live in Vermont and enjoy all things food, as well as the beautiful outdoors, game nights, Avengers movies and plenty of maple syrup. Find Nancy’s writing and recipes at her website: Hungry Enough To Eat Six.

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