Growing up, my parents rarely took us to restaurants or picked up fast food. I'd like to say it's because we were health conscious back in the '80s, but we were eating Hamburger Helper, Kraft Mac & Cheese, and Chef Boyardee on the regular, so no. It was basically because we were always on a budget.
My mom was really strict about sugary snacks though. We ate ice cream or had popcorn with M&Ms for dessert, but I think that's just because those were my dad's favorite treats. We didn't get much more than that. Occasionally though, after hours of yard work or on report card days, we'd get one dollar each to spend at the nearby mini mart. We'd stretch it out as far as possible, choosing lots of five and ten cent candies. I'm talking about Blow Pops, Now and Laters, Lemonheads, Jolly Ranchers, Laffy Taffy, Jaw Busters, Double Bubble, Airheads, and my all-time favorite, Atomic Fireballs. We'd take home our brown paper bag and make the stash last a week!
Sugary drinks and sodas were only allowed once in a while. We'd sometimes get a Capri Sun if we were hanging out at my dad's softball games all day. And my mom was a Crystal Light fanatic so we always had a pitcher of lemonade in the fridge. We didn't buy Hi-C, Squeez-It, Sunny D, Kool-Aid, or sports drinks. Soda was restricted to camping trips when we picked up a couple six-packs of store brand root beer, orange, or lemon-lime pop.
When I was older, with a little more freedom and an allowance, I'd walk to that same mini mart with friends instead of my parents to pick out some candy and a drink. Plain soda wouldn't do (because I was so sophisticated?), so I always grabbed one of two things: Clearly Canadian or New York Seltzer.
I'd say ninth grade is when my regular soda consumption started. My junior high had pop machines and I'd get a Mr. Pibb just about every day. I'd switch it up with Cherry Coke once in a while, but Mr. Pibb was my jam. I probably paired it with a basket of fries and called it lunch.
In tenth grade, I started drinking OK Soda. I honestly can't tell you what it was meant to taste like. It reminded me of a "suicide." You know, when you mix all the flavors of fountain soda in one cup? It was fruity and I think an orange-ish color, but I can't tell you much more than that. I drank a lot of it because my BFF collected the cans. They really were kinda cool.
In the fall of my senior year, Surge hit the nation in a big way. Or maybe it was just like that here? It was marketed to teens as a more hardcore version of Mountain Dew and apparently made deals with high schools. One day a lime green truck pulled up, passed out hats, t-shirts, and cans of soda, then installed a Surge pop machine next to the Coke and Pepsi ones. It wasn't great tasting, but I sometimes drank it because it was a quarter rather than fifty cents.
These days I only have soda once or twice a month. I lived off Coke in college for the caffeine and got three cavities upon graduation! That scared me forever and I gave it up. We don't have it in the house and we only buy it when we host parties. My kids have never tasted a single drop of soda, though I might introduce them to root beer floats this summer.
It's crazy to think that all my favorite drinks were completely discontinued. How did I get so old? Surge stopped production 2003, but because of a Facebook fanpage, the drink was re-released and can be bought on Amazon. I vaguely remember hearing about this, but it wasn't until I visited my brother in San Diego last year that I realized it actually happened. He had a case on top of his fridge! I had to taste one, but then gave it to Jacob because it was exactly how I remembered...gross.
I heard about a Clearly Canadian revival last year, but it isn't in production yet. Last month I saw the Original New York Seltzer comeback on Facebook and had to order a case. Root Beer and Vanilla Cream were my favorite, so I went with Root Beer. My 12-pack arrived in just four days and I cracked one open while watching the kids play in the backyard. It is delicious.
What were your favorite drinks growing up?
Which discontinued treat would you like to taste now?