What Food Product Came Out the Year You Were Born?

Updated: Jun. 18, 2024

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

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York Peppermint Pattie
via hersheys.com

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. You can make Creamy Peppermint Patties at home, too.

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Vintage Cherrios
Ali Blumenthal/Reminisce

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 Cake
Taste 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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Cheese pizza, Chicago style deep dish italian cheese pizza with tomato sauce.
Supitcha McAdam/Shutterstock

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.

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A woman examines a TV dinner box she has taken from the freezer

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 Chicken
Taste 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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Chocolate spread with knife on white table
Jiri Hera/Shutterstock

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.

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Bazooka Gum
Keith Homan/Shutterstock

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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Reddi Whip
via reddiwip.com

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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Mcdonald's Meal Pics Of Fast Food Items For Fast Food Story.mcdonalds Chips And Big Mac.one Big Mac Hamburger, One Large Serving Trench Fries. Total Weigh, 304 Grams. Cost, $1.50.good Points: Protein Energy Content Close To Ideal, High Vitamin C.bad Po
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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Delicious Mouth Watering Raw Frozen Pizza On A Kitchen Table
StockImages_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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banana fosters sundaes
Taste 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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Life Magazine Ad NO-CAL CITRUS Soda 1968 Ad
via ebay.com/jenabmagmom

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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Kellogg's To End Use Of Environmentally Harming Sources Of Palm Oil
Andrew 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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Marshmallow Peeps
via Peeps/Facebook

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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Dorcas Reilly green bean casserole feature square
Shutterstock (2)

1955: Green Bean Casserole

Can you believe there used to be Thanksgivings without green bean casseroles? 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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Cocoa Puffs

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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Whopper and soda
Grzegorz 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 cofounder 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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Rice a Roni, prepared food in a box, popular side dish
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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Little Caesars Pizza
via Little Caesars/Facebook

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 U.S. 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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Oatmeal Creme Pies
Courtesy 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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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 crackers

1962: Goldfish Crackers

Pepperidge Farm was already famous for their breads 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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Chips Ahoy
via Chips Ahoy!/Facebook

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.

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Pop Tarts Vintage
Courtesy Kellogg Company

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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Kraft Singles
via walmart.com

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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Vintage Doritos
Keith Homan/Shutterstock

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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slurpees in three colors

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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McDonald's Big Mac night
Grzegorz 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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Tic Tacs Orange
via Tic Tac/Facebook

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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A box of Orville Redenbacher's Smart Pop Buttered Popcorn on a wood table
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 our popcorn taste test.

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Starbucks Mini Frappuccino
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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Egg Mcmuffin

1972: McDonald’s Egg McMuffin

McDonald’s owes a lot to the creativity of their 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. Learn how to make a copycat Egg McMuffin at home.

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Original Cup Nooodles
via Original Cup Noodles/Facebook

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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Pop Rocks
via amazon.com

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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Wally Amos, of Kailua, Hawaii, in his home office
LUCY PEMONI/AP/Shutterstock

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. See what ’70s food home cooks were making.

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jelly belly flavors
via jellybelly.com

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. Did you know Jelly Bellys were a favorite of Ronald Reagan?

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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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Ben & jerry's ice Cream, Chocolate Cookie Dough flavor, hugely popular American brand
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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Ring Pops
via Ring Pop/Facebook

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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Tostitos Tortilla Chips
via Tostitos/Facebook

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 Frozen dinners
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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1980's PLASTIC CAN Diet Coke Coca Cola Pull Tab Soda Can Columbus, GA
via ebay.com/cans-plates

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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Chicken McNuggets

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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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 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 Lemon Iced Tea
via walmart.com

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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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 like these cookies.

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MIAMI - JULY 1: A shopper picks an Oscar Mayer Lunchables product from a store shelf July 1, 2003 in Miami, Florida. Kraft Foods Inc., the nations largest food manufacturer and the maker of Oscar Mayer meats, plans to examine the nutrition of its products and take steps to fight obesity and promote health. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe 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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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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via generalmills.com

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, but good news: Dunkaroos are back.

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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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General Mills To Start Gmo Labeling
Richard 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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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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Potato Chips With Olean Label
James 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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Air 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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Yoplait Go Gurt
via amazon.com

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. Since Go-Gurts could be easily frozen and thawed, they were perfect for lunchboxes like this.

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2011 A Cupcake To Save Promise Celebrity Fundraiser
Ben 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.

Don’t miss all the iconic foods that defined the decades!