Friday, July 11, 2014

From the Candy Aisle: Space Dust/Cosmic Candy

Product: Space Dust/Cosmic Candy
Company: General Foods
Years - Late 70's-early 80's


Vintage General Foods Cherry Cosmic Candy Box Packs
Image by Greg Koenig

Ground control to major Tom.....

Ground Control to Major Tom.......

Take your protein pills and put your helmet on.....

Here's a fun one. In the late 1976, General Foods really took the novelty candy world by storm with it's new candy, Pop Rocks. It was a hit, so a few years later, they released a new candy (which was similar) called Space Dust. It was basically Pop Rocks, just crushed up into a fine powder.

It was instantly a huge success, but it didn't take long for train to go off the rails.

First, Parents complained that the name "Space Dust",  along with the appearance of the candy, was too similar to illegal drugs such as Angel Dust. Accusations were even made that the candy, because of its similarity to powdered drugs, would lead kids into real drug use.
As a result, the name was changed from Space Dust" to "Cosmic Candy".

That problem seemed to be solved, but more trouble was brewing. A rumor started going around that the candy was unsafe, and that a kid died while consuming the candy while drinking a soda. (I heard it was Mikey from the Life Cereal commercials). These rumors once again got parents in an uproar over the candy (just chill, parents). It got so bad that Bill Mitchell, chemist and creator of Pop Rocks and Cosmic Candy actually took out a full page newspaper ad in the Feb. 6th edition of the Pittsburgh Press in 1979, explaining that the entire thing was not true. He explains how he started making the candy back in the 1950's for his kids, and how it was perfectly save despite all the rumors about it.


The candy remained wildly popular for a few years. Stores struggled to keep it in stock.
But in a year or too, it seemed everyone lost interest in it. Store who had stockpiled the candy suddenly found themselves stuck with boxes of it they couldn't sell (I wonder if this is why unopened cases of it seem to show up for sale from time to time...)

Image from Traci*s Retro via Flickr

I love the packaging for this candy. It is so.....70's drug culture-y in it's style. It makes me want to put on some Bowie, pop in a movie like Nelvana's "Cosmic Christmas" or "The Devil and Daniel Mouse", and just space out. Maybe pop open a few packets of this......and wash it down with a Coke.....and wait.......to see........what magical places it takes me.......

For here
Am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world........
Planet Earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do.

So normally I would just end it there, but there is one other interesting, if you can call it that, article I found while looking into this stuff. It comes from the May 22nd, 1978 edition of the Vilage Voice Newspaper. I thought it was a rather strange article to be in a newspaper, but then I noticed the ad directly to it's right, and I was like "Oh...it's THAT kind of newspaper....)
It involves Space Dust Candy and, well, a sex act......

This is from an actual newspaper. I am not making this up.


The article in question in on the left, entitled "Lip-Smacker" - the other Ad is to the right....


And then there are the commercials....


Friday, June 6, 2014

From the Snack Aisle - Kellogg's Pokes

Product: Pokes Snack
Company: Kellogg's
Years: 1967 - ????


"How'd you like a poke in the mouth?" I thought to myself upon seeing these packages for the first time, thinking I was being clever and a bit dirty.
But then I did a little bit of research, and I found that Kellogg's did indeed use that tagline.
"A Poke in the mouth makes a hit in the tummy", to be exact. Great (dirty) minds think alike, I guess.

 Pokes
Image/Boxes by Grickily

So this is what I know about Pokes:
1. They came in 4 flavors. Corn, Cheese and Bar-B-Q were the original 3 flavors, and Potato Pokes were added sometime shortly after.

2. These were "Tasty little Snack Baskets", which look like they just took some Chex and opened up one end....a clever snack shape I don't think I've seen before (Bugle's are pretty similar in execution)

3. The boxes are AMAZING. I mean...LOOK at them. The Potato Pokes have an Irish Potato creature on the front! The Corn Pokes have a crazy looking Indian corn creature on it! The Cheese Pokes have a smiling hunk of (alpine?) Cheese on it! The Bar-B-Q Pokes have a ........cowboy looking......what is that.....a hunk of coal? Ok, that one I'm not sure about. But the boxes reek of the late 60's, and I would love to have a set for my collection.

4. The Reason I don't have them in my collection is because they are Rare, and Expensive if you do find them. A Corn Pokes box sold on Hakes Auctions last year for $600. My wife would kick me out of the house if I spend $600 on ANY box (unless there was a diamond ring inside of it, for her).


5. I'm not sure if these were sold in the US and in Canada or only in Canada. The only advertising I could find for them was in the Montreal Gazette, and it says on the Coupon "Kellogg's Company of Canada, 1968". I know there are Kellogg's cereals that you can only get in Canada, so maybe this was along the same lines? I never had there while they were in stores, so maybe someone can confirm for me.

I couldn't find a lot of info on these, like many of the slightly less popular brands of the 60's-70's. But an important addition to the shelves of Gone But Not Forgotten Groceries none the less.

Leave a comment if you remember these awesome yet slightly creepy looking snacks! 


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Return of the Greatest Kool-Aid flavors!!!!

Just a quick post today to point out the fact that Kool-Aid has brough back to the store shelves (for a limited time) some of the greatest previously discontinued flavors of all time. A few months ago I had a post about how I found Sharkleberry Fin on the shelf at my local grocery store and since then I was hoping they would bring back more.
Well, I'm here to let everyone know that they must have been reading my mind (or Kool-Aid is working with the NSA), because in stores now you can get Purplesaurus Rex, Rock-A-Dile Red, Great Bluedini, and Pink Swimmingo! So go! Go Now, before they are gone for another 20+ years!

(Thanks to the Impulse Buy for pointing these out! - www.Theimpulsebuy.com)






Monday, May 5, 2014

From the Beverage Aisle - 7up Gold

Product - 7up Gold
Company - 7up/Dr. Pepper
Years - 1987-1988



When I think of boring soda, I think of 7up. Now, that isn't an indictment on its taste....it does have a clean, refreshing taste that every now and again hits the spot. But lets face it, it's what your grandparents have in their fridge. It's what you give the kids when you don't want them to have caffeine. It's a good, safe, soda. Which is the reason 7up Gold was an utter and gigantic failure. It was reaching for a target demographic that wasn't even there (hip, cool people who enjoy 7up). It tried to have edge when none was needed.

What happened is that in 1987, 7up and Dr. Pepper merged into on company. Cherry 7up had just hit the market and was doing really well, so they wanted to follow that success up with another variety of 7up. But there were several reasons why that wasn't such a good idea and would lead to the soda's demise.

Flavor: Sort of an apple Cinnamon flavor, not at all what you'd expect from 7up (I'm sure the cinnamon flavor came from someone on the Dr. Pepper side...great idea, boys. If you have any more ideas, please keep them to yourself)

Color: It was a brown color. Again, not at all what you'd expect when cracking open a can of 7up (ok, when your grandparents were cracking open a can of 7up for you when you were 8)

Caffeine: Yep, it had it. Once again, to beat a dead horse (probably died drinking this swill) people who drink 7up don't expect to get any caffeine. That's why my grandparents drank it.They wanted to be able to sleep at night (or afternoon, or mid-morning.....)

Marketing: I would love to tell you that they test marketed the shit out of this stuff, and that all signs pointed to it being a smash hit, which makes it even stranger that the stuff never took off. But I can't tell you that, because it was basically rushed into production with very little testing. The company didn't want to miss the boat on the success of Cherry 7up, so they rolled it out way too quickly.

Name: Had they given this soda it's own identity, it might not have failed so hard. I'm talking a completely new brand. Instead, they kept it part of the 7up family, and instead of calling it Apple Cinnamon 7up or what-have-you, they called it GOLD. Now I don't know about you, but I don't usually drink gold, so I don't have a reference point for it's taste (actually, gold is completely tasteless and odorless, so there's that too....). So calling it Gold left the taste of the soda a mystery for consumers. And like most people, if you don't know what your buying, you don't.

The Curse: The original prototypes for the cans were made with real gold leafing, and rumor has it that gold came from the lost tombs of King Tut.  Because of this, every can created on the production line was cursed, and anyone who drank it turned into a brain hungry zombie. Remember that song Zombie by the Cranberries? That was a great song.
"In your head, in your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie,
Hey, hey, hey, hey, oh, dou, dou, dou, dou, dou..."
Ok, I made that last one up, there was no curse. But there may as well have been, everything else was against them on this idea. (Note: 7up DID in fact release a Cranberry 7up, which was successful, so everything came full circle there and worked out for you, the reader).

Anyway, to sum up, 7up Gold failed hard. Even the CEO of the company admitted it.
In an article in the New York Times (1988), CEO John Albers stated, ''I'll be honest. It's a failure. I've been around for a long time, and you think you learn your lessons and practice intelligent marketing, but you can be sidetracked.''

And lets be honest with ourselves.....nobody really misses it. 
If you'd like to  refute that claim, feel free to post in the comments below.
 
Check out this awesome 7up Gold commercial, featuring one Kyle Gass of the famed Tenacious D -
 
 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

From the Snack Aisle: Chester's Cheese Doritos

Product: Chester's Cheese Doritos
Company: Frito Lay (Pepsico)
Years: 1995

At some point in our lives we all need to make hard decisions. Go to college or travel the world. Buy a SUV or buy a minivan. Eat that meatball you found under the couch or not eat that meatball you found under the couch. We make them every day. But the good people at Frito Lay (and I am not saying that to get free samples, Frito Lay......though you do have beautiful eyes. You know that, right? (That is for the free samples)) took it upon themselves back in 1995 to say "Why Choose, bitches? You want Doritos, but at the same time, you also want some delicious cheesy Cheetos. You are high as a goddamn kite, and we're not one to judge you, so lets take the choice out of the equation....and make......CHEETO FLAVORED DORITOS! BOOM!"

Well, as great of an idea as it was, I have to say I certainly don't remember them. And I was in college at that time, so I was, well, lets just say I was their target demographic. (There's a time and a place for everything kids, and that time and place is called College). After scouring the interwebs trying to find a picture of the package, all I could find is this article about them testing this product. Most everyone who tried them loved them, though some said they were too cheesy. And then there is Bill (the single guy). His objection to this product? "Just who is this Chester Cheese guy? Is he really that famous? Why couldn't they just call these cheese flavored Doritos? And what does a cheetah have to do with cheese or tortilla chips?

Well Bill, the reason you are still single is because you ask too many questions.
And Chester Cheese Doritos, the reason you are still not available in stores is because people like to make hard decisions. You either want a Coke or you want a 7up, you don't want a Coke flavored 7up.
And the same goes with your chips.

Oh, and because they are (according to the taste test) way too cheesy, but in a good way?


I kind of wish these were still around, if for no other reason to see what other kinds of mutated Island of Doctor Moreau style chip inventions they would come up with. 
Funyun flavored Fritos?
Dorito flavored Pretzels?
The world will never know.