The more things change, the more they stay the same.
That saying holds true even when it comes to schoolyard snacks. We’re essentially enjoying the same things we were 20 years ago, just with a slight twist.
While kids are no longer playing with POGs, wearing slap bracelets or listening to Sony Discmans, it’s worth checking out today’s equivalents of snacks from the world’s most nostalgic decade: The ‘90s.
1. Chewy Granola Bar = KIND Bar
Millions of lucky kids in the '90s enjoyed opening up their lunch boxes every day to find one of three original Quaker Chewy granola bar flavors: chocolate, peanut butter, or s’mores. Now, the IT granola bar (yes, there is an IT granola bar) is the KIND bar, packed with whole grains, seeds, nuts, and lots of cool points.
Even with slightly modernized Chewy bars, KIND bars remain the fastest growing energy bar on the market with sales of $1.2 billion in 2014, up 50% from 2010. That’s a lot to chew.
2. Kraft Lunchables = Starbucks Bistro Boxes
Like Lunchables, Starbucks Bistro Boxes are appealing in the way they conveniently package all sorts of fun goodies into a little plastic tray. Sometimes they’ll come with crackers and cheese in one compartment, and maybe a little fruit snack in another—fun!
The differences lie in what each brand chooses to include in the compartments. While Lunchables come packed with processed foods and a list of ingredients that would confuse a spelling bee champion, the Bistro Box offers a far simpler, healthier alternative. While Lunchables are plenty available today, the Bistro Boxes have been quite a hit for Starbucks since their 2011 debut.
3. Hot Fries = Veggie Straws
Both are light, crunchy, and salty, yet one is clearly a bit more healthconscious than the other. Veggie Straws and their chips equivalent came onto the snack scene in the early 2000s and have been climbing the chip charts ever since. Unlike Hot Fries, they allow you to feel better about what you eat while still providing salty, crunchy satisfaction.
4. Pretzels = Pretzel Chips
Miniature salted pretzels have always been the quintessential party snack, but pretzel chips have pretty much taken over the 2000s.
With a unique texture and style that blends the flavor of a pretzel with the flatness of a potato chip, Pretzel Chips are a little bit more fashionable to tote around than Rold’s Gold.
5. Little Debbie Cakes = Trader Joe’s Cookies
Zebra Cakes, Buddy Bars, Cosmic Brownies, and Oatmeal Creme Pies—music to the ears of every Generation Y’er.
Gen Zs have found their piece of heaven with Trader Joe’s cookies, especially the Joe Joe’s creme sandwiches, with all its mouth-watering flavors. And who could forget about TJ’s Infamous Crunchy Cookie Butter? Experts are calling Cookie Butter the new cookie.
6. Peanut Butter = Hummus
For some reason or another peanut allergies weren’t nearly as prevalent as they are today. Kids would have lunches packed with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or “ants on a log” (celery with peanut butter and raisins).
Today, many schools ban peanut butter. In its place hummus has taken the mantle of favorite legume-based spread. While peanut butter had more of a salty-sweetness, hummus has an enjoyable earthy savoriness to it, yet both work equally well on pretzels or sticks of vegetables.