When we were kids, we didn’t think much about the food we ate. If there was something to eat in the fridge and an episode of Animaniacs on TV, that was good enough for us. But now that we’re older, we have time to reflect on some of the lesser-known facts about our favorite childhood snacks.
1. Ring Pops: Frank Richards, the inventor of the tooth-breaking candy gems, actually created them to stop his daughter from sucking her thumb. We’re guessing he never consulted a dentist on that one.
2. Airheads: There may be no better sugar rush in the world than a white cherry-flavored Airhead. But before they were even called Airheads, the perfectly chewy candy lost a national taste test to Fruit Wrinkles and was in danger of never being produced at all. That brings up an important question: What the hell are Fruit Wrinkles?
3. Bugles: In our house, Bugles were thought of as a poor man’s Combos, but we still ate them by the bagful. We were generally partial to the standard Original flavor. That’s not the case in China, where the most popular flavor of Bugle is Ketchup.
4. Orbitz: The defunct soda owed its short-lived existence to the weird appeal of the unmoving globules that filled its bottles. They were held in place with the help of gellan gum, which chemists say has properties similar to spider webs.
5. Nestlé Wonder Ball: The original version of the chocolate ball filled with toys disappeared in 1997 following complaints to the FDA. One of those complaints came from Mars, makers of Snickers, M&M’s and Twix, who paid government lobbyists to help get the Wonder Ball taken off the shelves. They said it was because the toys inside presented a choking hazard, but we’re pretty sure there was some Wonka/Slugworth-style candy feud at the bottom of it.
6. Go-Gurt: We used to convince ourselves we were having a healthy snack when we popped a Go-Gurt after school. That name never took off in England, though; instead of Go-Gurt, kids there pop a Frubes. Because in the UK, all items are required to have ridiculous names.
7. Surge: The Internet went crazy when Surge announced it was coming back this year. The orange-ish flavored soda was considered a gold standard when it came to childhood caffeination, but despite that impression, it actually had less caffeine than Mountain Dew—52.5 mg to 55.5 mg per can.