Fruit snacks from the '90s you'll sadly never have again

Most people who grew up in the '90s will remember the unique thrill that came in the middle of the school day when you would reach into your lunch box hoping to find a pack of fruit snacks nestled underneath a jumble of juice boxes, string cheese, Lunchables, and other pre-packed foods that passed for a nutritious way to feed a child in a time before Whole Foods began to fuel a new generation of parents obsessed with organic everything. Over the past few years, a '90s nostalgia trend has fueled a spate of television reboots, product re-releases, and reunion tours that aim to satisfy a millennial yearning for the simpler times of CDs, logo tees, and yes, fruit snacks. 

While many of your favorites are likely still available — heaven help the General Mills executive who ever even hints at discontinuing Gushers — there are some fruit snacks from years gone by that you will sadly never be able to eat again, at least not in their original forms. If you're passionate about Gushers, Fruit by the Foot, and Fruit Roll-Ups, you're in luck, since all of those are still widely available. Fruit Wrinkles fanatics, however, are not so lucky. We conducted a thorough investigation into the beloved fruit snacks of our collective youth to learn which ones are still around and which ones have been lost to the annals of food history. Read on to learn more about some of the '90s lunchbox favorites that didn't survive the new millennium.

Soda-licious fruit snacks

Betty Crocker released its soda-inspired Soda-licious fruit snacks in 1991, and the sugary gummies became an instant hit with kids all over the United States. Soda-licious fruit snacks contained basically no fruit (the first three ingredients listed on the box are grapes from concentrate, sugar, and corn syrup), but the fruit snack moniker probably helped some conniving kids convince their parents to pack these in their lunch boxes. The fruit snacks gained a cult following not only for their vaguely fizzy mouthfeel but also for the decidedly un-fruity flavors like root beer and cola.

The combination of corn syrup-fortified gummy candy and soda made perfect sense in the early '90s, which marked the height of the "Big Soda" boom. According to the New York Times, America's passion for the sugary, carbonated beverage soared from the '60s to the '90s before beginning a steep downward trend in the aughts. By 2015, soda consumption had taken a nosedive to the tune of a 25 percent decrease, so it's unsurprising the soda-flavored spin-off novelty items took a similar hit. 

Betty Crocker discontinued Soda-licious in 1998, though the product had largely fizzled out by 1995, and fans have been begging the brand to revive the soda snacks ever since. A Change.org petition to bring back the famous fruit snack garnered over 600 signatures in 2016. While the brand admits that Soda-licious fruit snacks were as delicious as their name implies, the company has stated that there are no plans to bring it back. 

The white fruit snack sharks in Shark Bites

Shark Bites were one of the most iconic fruit snacks of the 1990s, and they featured one of the best candy types of the era: the handful of random opaque white gummy shapes that came in every pack. Tragically, this one has fallen completely out of fashion, and modern children will never know the joys of finding the special piece in a sea of regular fruit snacks. These shark-shaped, fruit punch-flavored fruit gummy candies were developed as part of the Fruit Corners line, which was responsible for two other much-loved fruit snacks: Fruit Wrinkles and Fruit Roll-Ups. Shark Bites were first released in 1988, and they were marketed outside of the United States as a sister product to the popular Fruit Wrinkles. 

Over the years, Shark Bites have gone through some serious evolutions. Early on in their existence, the delightfully chalky white sharks sometimes gave way to other special edition gummy pieces. And while Shark Bites are technically still in production, if you're looking to take a bite of your childhood, the version you can buy now probably won't satisfy your craving. You can no longer find the pineapple-flavored white sharks in the modern version, which were without a doubt the best ones in any pack. Overall, the new Shark Bites are more translucent than their predecessors, which were all kind of opaque, with our favorite pieces being a solid white.

Hi-C Gummy fruit snacks

You probably know Brach's for its generic jelly beans, gummy bears, and Halloween candy blends that are geared toward younger children who might still prefer chewy and fruity candies like Smarties and Trolli sour sharks to more sophisticated nutty and chocolatey varieties. Brach's parent company also co-produced a fruit snack with juice box giant Hi-C, which is owned by the Coca-Cola Company. There once was a time when you might be lucky enough to get a double dose of Hi-C in your lunch box in the form of both juice and a juice-inspired pack of Hi-C Fruit Gummies. Each gummy was shaped to look like the fruit flavor it represented, making these a pretty straightforward approximation of actual fruit.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly when these were discontinued, but Yahoo! Finance reported that the fruit snacks have, in fact, been discontinued. Now, the closest you can get is an individually packed candy item called Brach's Hi-C Fruit Slices. These are not the '90s-style fruit snacks but larger Hi-C inspired jellied fruit slices that are coated in sugar crystals to give them a crunch and bite that the smaller fruit snack variety packs lacked. If you're a fan of all things Hi-C, it's worth trying to track these down, but the original miniature Hi-C Gummy Fruits are, sadly, no longer in production.

Fruit Wrinkles fruit snacks

Fruit Wrinkles were released in 1986 as part of the Fruit Corners sub-brand of Betty Crocker/General Mills, and these unassuming little fruit snacks have an absolutely rabid cult following. Case-in-point: Inthe80s.com commenter Cindy claims, "I would give my husband away for a box of Fruit Winkles," and blogger Dinosaur Dracula claims that they were "the most delicious fruit snacks in history."

Fruit Wrinkles were marketed as a healthier alternative to similar products launched by competitors like Sunkist and were touted as containing more fruit and less sugar than other fruit snacks. One commercial featuring a claymation kid named Roland tout both Fruit Wrinkles and Fruit Roll-Ups as a less-messy alternative to eating actual fruit, which is what parents back in those days really cared about. Fruit Wrinkles came in classic flavors like cherry, lemon, orange, and the ever-popular strawberry, and unlike other fruit snacks, you weren't getting a variety pack here — you had to pick a single flavor and purchase an entire box. 

As the '80s turned into the '90s, Fruit Wrinkles dropped the signature oblong shape for more modern fruit shapes, according to a 1989 commercial. A 1995 commercial for the snacks shows them back in their original shape but with the addition of cartoon "Fruitons," little fruit-fiend aliens who crave the "too big" taste of the snacks. While it's hard to pinpoint the exact year these disappeared from shelves, we couldn't find any mention of Fruit Wrinkles after 1995.

*NYSYNC fruit snacks

The '90s were a time of peak late-stage capitalism when nearly every cultural phenomenon was repackaged to create an endless chain of spin-off products. You might remember, for example, Spice Girls Lollipops, an unopened Posh Spice version of which can now sell for up to $350, or Urkel-O's Cereal, which was based on the wildly popular character from ABC's hit sitcom, Family Matters. 

The boy band boom of the '90s was no exception, and *NYSYNC inspired its own line of Brach's fruit snacks. This was just one of a slew of products emblazoned with the likenesses of Justin, Joey, Chris, JC, Lance, which also included chapstick, bobblehead dolls, and backpacks. Some boxes of fruit snacks featured a collectible "backstage pass," to encourage repeat purchases. Individual packs of the fruit snacks also contained some goop-filled pink gummy hearts etched with band member names that gushed like a tween girl at, well, an *NSYNC concert. Brach's discontinued the snacks sometime in the 2000s, but empty boxes are still relatively affordable on eBay for superfans who still can't get enough boy band memorabilia. 

Darkwing Duck fruit snacks

Continuing the trend of spin-off fruit snacks from the '90s, Darkwing Duck was one of the many popular Disney cartoons that spawned some kind of edible product. Darkwing Duck was a relatively short-lived series spanning three seasons than ran from 1991 to 1992. The show won an Annie award for voice acting in the titular role by actor Jim Cummings, who also voiced other iconic animated characters including the Tasmanian Devil, Tigger, and a brief stint as Winnie the Pooh. The show was a spin-off of the more popular and longer-running DuckTales franchise and was originally intended as a James Bond spoof that morphed into a more broad strokes play on pulp comics. 

Very little is known about the Darkwing Duck fruit snacks, other than the fact that they existed in the early '90s, likely coinciding with the height of the show's popularity, and that they no longer exist now. The discontinued fruit snacks are so elusive that empty boxes are not available for purchase anywhere on the internet, and there is no available information about the brand listed on the box, "Fruit Parade." Like the show itself, these fruit snacks are full of mystery and intrigue.

Nickelodeon Fruit roll-ups snack

Disney wasn't the only popular children's television network that got in on the fruit snack phenomenon. Its edgier rival, Nickelodeon, partnered with Betty Crocker/General Mills to produce a zany take on the ever-popular Fruit Roll-Up. According to a 1995 commercial that helped launch the product, Nickelodeon Fruit Roll-Ups were created when Ren of Ren & Stimpy broke into the Fruit Roll-Ups factory and made a flavor imbued with the essence of his stinky sweat socks, much to the dismay of fellow Nickelodeon characters Stimpy, Doug, and Rocko. Nickelodeon Fruit Roll-Ups were multi-colored and featured peel-out silhouettes of some of the network's most popular cartoon personalities, making them significantly more fun to play with than your typical fruit snack.

A 1995 write-up on the special edition Nickelodeon/Betty Crocker collaboration in Pennsylvania's York Daily Record notes that, for a three-month period, the snacks were available in a limited-run "Slimy, Grimy Green" flavor. Fruit snacks were only the beginning of the partnership between the two brands, which also included a Nick-themed Adventure Cooler flavor of the popular sugary drink, Squeezit. For a limited time, a number of General Mills snacks, including Squeezit, Fruit Roll-Ups, Dunkaroos, and others had Nick Notes on the packaging, which could be collected and traded in for Nickelodeon merchandise.

Garfield & Friends fruit snacks

Garfield & Friends was a fairly long-running cartoon for its time. It aired from 1988 through 1995, spanning seven seasons of mayhem and mischief with everyone's favorite grumpy cartoon cat. The '90s fruit snack version produced by General Mills was said to be "narcotics-level addicting," and it seems that there were two different versions of the fruit snack available.

The first version was a typical pack of single-flavor gummy blobs that vaguely resembled Garfield and his dog-pal Odie. The other was more similar to the Nickelodeon Fruit Roll-Up, according to a photo of a 1991 box on Flickr, featuring a single flat square-shaped piece of fruit punch-flavored fruit leather with a Garfield cutout. Commercials for the fruit snacks featured unique animated sequences showing Garfield himself going through a series of hilarious trials in an effort to secure his eponymous fruit snack and hawking the collectible Garfield figurines that were sometimes included in marked boxes of the sugary treats. 

Yogos fruit snack

Kellog's Yogos were futuristic little fruit snacks that sort of looked like the balls in lava lamps and translucent inflatable chairs that defined teen bedroom decor in the late '90s and early aughts. The innovative snacks featured a traditional fruit gummy interior orb that was enrobed in a colorful yogurt-based (or as the packaging states, "yogurty") candy coating. The flavors had hip-sounding, berry-centric names like Strawberry Slam, Crazy Berries, and Berry-Berry Banana, making the marketing for Yogos feel targeted toward a decidedly middle-school crowd.

The original Yogos disappeared from shelves in the early 2010s, though a revamped Yogos Bits version of the snack with a wider variety of flavors was released and subsequently discontinued. Fans of the yogurty fruit snack have reached out to Kellog's on Twitter begging for Yogos to return to stores, and while Kellog's responded enthusiastically, there has been no news of a planned revival of this fruit snack. 

Starburst Fruit Twists snack

Starburst candies have been around since the 1960s when they were originally produced by Mars under the moniker Opal Fruits before getting a rebrand that brought us the square-shaped fruit taffy that many have come to know and love. Starbursts have seen a number of mash-ups and spin-off products over the years, including Starburst Sorbet Bars, Starburst Yogurt, and another throwback classic, a line of fruit-flavored Starburst Lip Smacker lip balms. 

In the '90s, the Starburst brand was eager to get in on the gummy fruit craze and came out with Starburst Fruit Twists. This fruit snack was essentially a Twizzler but with more color and flavor variation, and of course, it was made with real fruit juice. A 1997 commercial shows a pair of grandparent-aged claymation fruits who drive through a quaint town looking for route nine, which is apparently the place where fruit goes to get twisted. Fans loved Starburst Fruit Twists, and many say that they were softer and more flavorful than Twizzlers. They've been discontinued since the early 2000s, and the closest you can get now is the Starburst Swirler, which is closer in texture and flavor to the original Starburst candies. 

Fruit String Things snack

Fruit String Things were another Betty Crocker fruit snack that encouraged kids to have more fun with their food. These were vaguely similar to the Fruit Roll-Ups that had cut-out figures etched into them that could be peeled away from the sheet of fruit leather, but instead of being two-dimensional, Fruit String Things brought its shapes into 3D. 

These were truly more about the process of unraveling them rather than the experience of eating them, and flavors were pretty limited. According to a 1995 commercial, Fruit String Things came in Cherry, Strawberry, and Berry Blue, and the shapes you could unravel might be anything from a rocket ship to an abstract labyrinth. This was meant to be more than just a fruit snack — it was a fruit snack that also encouraged creativity. Betty Crocker no longer produces this beloved fruit snack, so if you want to slurp your chewy fruit-flavored sugar like spaghetti, you'll have to settle for a classic bulk candy strawberry licorice lace, which is decidedly not the same. 

Creepy Crawlers fruit snacks

Television shows and boy bands weren't the only things that inspired fruit snacks in the '90s. Everything was fair game, even toys that were actually just a gimmick to get kids to make their own toys! That's right, Creepy Crawlers Fruit Snacks were a thing, and if you were a kid who bore the burns and scars that came along with pouring colored glue into a metal tray and putting it inside a tiny oven in order to extract a DIY plastic spider, you probably had these too. 

Creepy Crawlers Fruit Snacks were produced by the Farley's & Sathers Candy Company, according to a packaging photo, which is also responsible for classic candies like Chuckles, Jet-Puffed Marshmallows, and Fruit Stripes Gum. Perhaps in an effort to differentiate the Creepy Crawlers fruit snacks from the candies they produced, the packaging really played up the faux-healthy aspects, touting the inclusion of Vitamins C, E, and beta carotene. 

Early in the '90s, Creepy Crawler mania had struck many American households, and in addition to fruit snacks, there was also television show and a spin-off product called the Dollymaker Boutique Molding Oven that was marketed toward girls. However, the trend was over by 1996, and the fruit snacks and television show died along with it.