Thursday, April 12, 2012

From the Snack Aisle: Screaming Yellow Zonkers

Product: Screaming Yellow Zonkers
Company: Lincoln Foods
Years: 1969-2007

Sometimes in life, you are aware of certain things without ever getting to experience them.
I am aware of White Castle hamburgers, but there aren't any remotely near where I live, so I've never had them.
I am aware of perms, but unless I lose a bet or get paid a LOT of money, I'll never have one.
And I was aware of Screaming Yellow Zonkers when they were around, but for whatever reason always passed. And now, it's too late. (for the Screaming Yellow Zonkers, not the perm, but I'm still gonna pass on that one).

Screaming Yellow Zonkers was a popcorn snack produced by Lincoln Foods in the 60's-2000's. It had a very sweet, sugary glaze over them. No Peanuts. No prize at the bottom. Just a sweet, sweet popcorn snack.

Screaming Yellow Zonkers Ad -1983

Doesn't sound so interesting, does it?

Well, the real draw of the Screaming Yellow Zonkers was not what was inside, but what was on the outside: one of the most brilliant packages ever. The box was a striking black box (claimed to be one of the first black packages on the market) with all kinds of cool, goofy illustrations and text around the box, including tips on "How to Wash your Zonkers", or "How to Mate Your Zonkers".  On the bottom of the box, a quick guide was printed explaining how to determine if it were indeed the bottom: “Open the top, and turn the box upside down. If the Zonkers fall out, this is the bottom. If they fall up, this is the top. If nothing happens, this box is empty.”

The box was brilliantly created by Hurvis, Binzer and Churchill, a young start up ad agency out of Chicago. Artists such as Charlie White and Seymour Chwast illustrated the boxes with imaginative drawings that just scream all kinds of awesomeness.

Ovaltine Products - Screaming Yellow Zonkers! - Win a Continent box - 1970's
Box Photo by Jason Liebig

And what makes the boxes even cooler is that they would frequently come out with new boxes full of other goofy stuff. Brilliant, just brilliant. Had I been paying attention, the collector/hoarder in me would have been thrilled.

Unfortunately, in 2007, Lincoln Foods was bought out by Conagra, and the Screaming Yellow Zonkers were discontinued, leaving me, like a fool, wishing I had picked up a box or 10 or 100 while I had the chance.
Instead, I'm left alone to eat my Poppycock and Cracker Jacks. Peanuts and all.

Lincoln Snacks - Screaming Yellow Zonkers! - The Sillys are Back - snack box - 1970's 1980's
Box photo by Jason Liebig


  1. I never thought the Zonkers tasted that interesting, but you are right that the box is very distinctive.

  2. I just picked up a box the other day at Walgreens. They're pretty tasty.

  3. Yes. I bought some recently also... Good lord, maybe I should have checked the expiration date!

  4. note the ingredient list difference on the box...

  5. note the ingredient list difference on the box...

  6. The commercial sounds like it was narrated by Mel Brooks. XD

  7. I have one unopened box left from the 2013 re-issue. I assume they're still good and really want to eat them... but once I do, they're gone.

  8. Zonkers were my fave in high school, loved, loved, loved them!! Very buttery sweet. I drool thinking of them.

  9. The box design and the name were based on the Beatles movie Yellow Submarine. Psychedelic designs and funny ad lines and bright colors on black backgrounds were all the rage in '69 and for the next decade or so.

  10. My most favorite popcorn snack when I was a kid! They put them out as a Limited Edition about 10 years ago. Where I lived, we had a shop that specialized in other store's overstocks, slow sellers, etc. I went in there one day, and what do I see? A CASE of this Popcorn from the Gods! I couldn't get it in my cart fast enough! And yes, I bought the entire case! And was a very happy, fat old woman everyday until they were gone!

  11. I have a flattened 39 cent box. Wonder if it is worth anything. Hmmm...

  12. Would love to see this product come back.My kids and I loved it.My kids are all grown with kids of their own and still crave it

  13. Screaming Yellow Zonkers...came back again in 2017 ....the t-RUMP family.