If you’re a classic Gen Joneser, certain kinds of convenience food and snacks were part of your upbringing. Yes, the late 60s and 70s were a Golden Age for the emerging processed food and snack industry. Take a look at this list and add your own if you’re inclined!
1. SPACE FOOD STICKS — Processed, artificially flavored sticks of whatever…chocolate, vanilla, and so on…like a grainy Tootsie roll without the chewiness.
2. JIFFY POP — Popcorn packed in a foil container, put it on the stove and wait for the kernels to start popping and the foil to bloom. Puncture the foil and enjoy.
3. TAB — Addictive diet soda made with cyclamates, an artificial sweetener later yanked off the market for health reasons.
4. CHEF BOYARDEE CANNED “PASTA” — Spaghetti & meatballs, “lasagna,” Beefaroni, and other authentic Italian specialties, just like they prepare ’em in Boston’s North End. NOT. If you didn’t like Chinese food but enjoyed ingesting MSG, these products would meet your needs. Still on the market.
5. PRINGLES — They were such a novelty when they first came out. Imagine, a perfectly stackable alternative to the traditional potato chip! We were more easily impressed back in the day. I still think they’re pretty lousy tasting.
6. BUITONI’S INSTANT PIZZA — Self-enclosed “pizzas” that you’d pop in the toaster until hot. The instructions were silent on how to clean your toaster when the product broke or started leaking.
7. HOSTESS TWINKIES, CUPCAKES, ETC. — Rumor has it that the crème filling is not organic.
8. SARA LEE FROZEN CHOCOLATE CAKE AND POUND CAKE — For those moving beyond Hostess. Remember how they came in tins? But once defrosted, oh my, they were delicious. The chocolate cake, with the rich creamy frosting, remains among the best I’ve ever had.
9. KOOL AID — Believe it or not, back then it was a special treat. Nothing like drinking 73 parts sugar + 1 part artificial flavoring.
10. JOHN’S FROZEN PIZZA — More on the pizza theme. Even though things cost a lot less back then, we still should’ve realized that a 12 inch pizza for around 79 cents wasn’t exactly the real deal.
11. BUGLES — Salty, crunchy corn snacks shaped like, natch, bugles.
Super nutritious, too.
12. SWANSON’S AND BANQUET TV DINNERS — With foil trays and little compartments for each food item. I didn’t like it when the gravy would spill into the fruit compote. Descendants of those who invested in companies that made food preservatives are grateful and probably living off the interest.