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8 Foods and Drinks From the '90s That Should Have Never Happened


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8 Foods and Drinks From the '90s That Should Have Never Happened
Transport your taste buds back in time with these eight foods and drinks from the ’90s that should have never happened. Photo Credit: Gracie Wilson/LIVESTRONG.COM

During the ’90s fat-free was the fad, clear drinks seemed way better for you than colored and partially hydrogenated oils (aka trans fats) were healthier than butter. To put it bluntly, we had healthy eating all wrong. Instead of sipping on green juice, munching kale and feasting on whole grains, many of us were scarfing down boxes of fat-free, high-calorie cookies, chomping on carbolicious, sodium-packed snacks and downing artificially flavored and sugar-filled beverages — and never feeling guilty about it.

While some of the fashion and music of the decade have been revived in recent years, it is definitely for the best that most of the food and drink has yet to reappear. And most of the products that are still around from back then have been reformulated to better fit in with today’s health standards. Transport your taste buds back in time with these eight foods and drinks from the ’90s that should have never happened.

Read More: 32 Discontinued Foods We Sort of Miss

1. SnackWell's
Nabisco’s SnackWell’s was packed with refined sugar and carbohydrates. Photo Credit: Gracie Wilson/LIVESTRONG.COM


Remember when everyone thought grams of fat were the only numbers that mattered when it came to weight loss? With zero fat, Nabisco’s SnackWell’s were a dieter’s dream — or so we thought. Introduced in 1993, they were an immediate hit because people really believed they were “good for you,” often binging on an entire box in one sitting. Eventually, when the “low-fat” diet myth was busted, people figured out the sweet and savory treats were actually packed with refined sugar and carbohydrates. The treats have since been reformulated with “simpler and better-for-you” ingredients, but the products are no longer selling like hotcakes.

2. Lunchables
Lunchables were packed with loads of saturated fat, sodium and sugar. Photo Credit: Gracie Wilson/LIVESTRONG.COM


A portable, wholesome and fun meal for kids with busy parents is how Kraft tried to market these kits. Filled with different meal combinations, including such items as crackers, pizza, chicken nuggets, lunchmeat, cheeses, drinks and sweet treats, kids immediately hopped on the Lunchables bandwagon. The only problem: They were far from nutritious, packed with loads of saturated fat, sodium and sugar. According to one report, the Ham and Swiss Lunchables contained a startling 1,780 milligrams of sodium. Still on the market, the Lunchables of today are slightly more nutritious than the ’90s version.

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3. Zima
Despite several rebranding attempts, Zima sales went steadily downhill until dying off in 2008. Photo Credit: Gracie Wilson/LIVESTRONG.COM


“Clear beer” Zima was introduced in 1994 as part of the whole “transparent drink” revolution. While its dye-free appearance and citrus flavor made it seem like a healthier version of beer, it was far from it. Boasting 185 calories and 21 grams of carbohydrates per 12-ounce serving, getting drunk on Zima would do some serious damage to your diet. Zima’s first year on the market proved lucrative for MillerCoors, but despite several rebranding and reformulation attempts, sales went downhill until it died off in 2008. Zima made a reappearance in 2017, but, thankfully, for only a limited time.

Read More: 18 Healthy Beers

4. Orbitz Drinks
The high-calorie, sugary Orbitz was pulled within a year. Photo Credit: Gracie Wilson/LIVESTRONG.COM


Lava lamps were so hot in the ’90s, why not make a drink that resembled one? This “texturally enhanced alternative beverage” was the brainchild of the same folks who brought Clearly Canadian to the market and was basically a similar-tasting, fruity, noncarbonated beverage with little balls of neon gelatin swimming around. Ew. Apparently people weren’t into drinking lava lamps, because the 140-calorie, drink, which boasted 30 grams sugar and 32 grams carbohydrates, was pulled within a year.

Read More: 10 Easy Drink Swaps to Cut Down on Sugar

5. Squeezit
These kitschy juice bottles were a childhood staple during the ’90s. Photo Credit: Gracie Wilson/LIVESTRONG.COM


These kitschy “fruit-flavored” juice bottles made by General Mills were a childhood staple during the ’90s. While the brightly hued, creatively bottled beverages looked like juice, they actually contained just 10 percent, and one 6.75 fluid ounce bottle contained 100 calories, 24 grams of sugar and 25 grams of carbohydrates. Squeezit exited the market in 2001, and, unlike slip dresses and track pants, they have yet to reappear.

Read More: The Best Juice Choices for Kids

6. Surge
High in both calories and carbohydrates, Surge was banned by schools around the country. Photo Credit: Gracie Wilson/LIVESTRONG.COM


Marketed for having an abundance of caffeine (a whopping 54 milligrams per 12-ounce serving), Surge was basically the ’90s version of Red Bull. High in both calories and carbohydrates, the drink was quickly banned by schools around the country. Consequently, sales suffered and the product exited the market in 2003. For years fans of the soda campaigned for its revival, and in 2014 their wishes were granted. If you want to down a 16 fluid ounce can of the high-octane beverage, plan on consuming 230 calories, 62 grams of carbohydrates, 56 grams of sugar and 69 milligrams of caffeine.

Read More: How Do Energy Drinks Affect the Body?

7. Lay’s WOW Chips
After sales for WOW chips slumped, in 2004 the company rebranded the chips as Lay’s Light. Photo Credit: Gracie Wilson/LIVESTRONG.COM


Fat-free chips with only 75 calories per serving that tasted almost exactly the same as their full-fat counterparts?! WOW chips seemed too good to be true, and they were. Containing a fat-, calorie- and cholesterol-free fat substitute called olestra marketed under the brand name Olean, dieters failed to read the fine print. Olestra caused “abdominal cramping, diarrhea, fecal incontinence (aka anal leakage) and other gastrointestinal problems.” Anyone who gobbled up an entire bag of WOW chips can attest to the side effects. After sales slumped, in 2004 the company rebranded the chips as Lay’s Light, but the wow factor suffered.

Read More: 9 Better-for-You Potato Chip Swaps

8. Anything With Trans Fat
Oreos, Chips Ahoy, Nilla Wafers and Girl Scout cookies were all made with partially hydrogenated oils back in the ’90s. Photo Credit: Gracie Wilson/LIVESTRONG.COM


Remember all those delicious Oreos, Chips Ahoy, Nilla Wafers and Girl Scout cookies you munched on during the ’90s? How about Marie Callender’s pies, Sara Lee frozen desserts, Cinnabon cinnamon rolls and McDonald’s apple pies? It’s likely they were made with partially hydrogenated oils, which are currently being phased out by the Food and Drug Administration. While most of today’s versions of these popular foods are trans fat-free, you might find they don’t taste the same. Your heart, however, will thank you.

What Do YOU Think?
What do you think? Photo Credit: Gracie Wilson/LIVESTRONG.COM


What was your favorite food, drink or snack from the ’90s? How different was your health methodology then compared to now? Are there any current food fads we will be regretting in a few decades? Tell us in the comments!

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