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Food Long Since Forgotten

So I was up late on a recent evening occasion, and although there are far more weighty things with which I could be occupying my brain, I settled instead on the topic of long-forgotten grocery goodies that I once enjoyed as a kid. Oh yeah…this is serious stuff.

Undoubtedly, each of you can think of something you used to enjoy snacking on as a child, but which you can no longer obtain for one reason or another. Maybe the product has been discontinued. Maybe it’s a regional product that’s not sold where you currently live. Or maybe the recipe has been changed and the darn thing just doesn’t taste like it used to. Whatever the reason, when you really think about it, you probably still long for those good old days, when pleasures were as easy to come by as opening the cupboard in your childhood home’s kitchen.

Here are some of the tasty yummies I used to enjoy, but now sorely miss:

Apple Slice soda.
Slice soda — introduced in 1984 largely as Pepsi’s answer to Sprite — once included this oft-forgotten flavor amongst its ranks. It was like drinking carbonated apple juice, but somehow way better. I used to drink great gobs of this stuff whilst sitting at the dining room table in 1986, playing Donald Duck’s Playground on our IBM XT computer. Um, wow.

Keebler Chocolate Fudge and French Vanilla Creme sandwich cookies.
Originally packaged in blue and yellow bags, respectively, these cookies were the ultimate retail snack. No grocery store cookie has ever tasted this good since. These were first discontinued in the early nineties and then reissued a few years later under the “Keebler Classic Collection” moniker, although they no longer tasted anywhere near as good! They were finally discontinued permanently around the turn of the century. My dad and I both used to make a big production out of dunking the chocolate fudge cookies in milk. Damn, was that tasty.

A can of Tahitian TreatTahitian Treat.
A strange soda whose taste I often liken to that of a carbonated Hawaiian Punch, it’s an ultrasweet red concoction that I first sampled in 1991 during end-of-the-year festivities for my fifth grade class. Some teacher had waltzed down to the local Dairy Mart and picked up some of the cheapest crap they could find, probably, but I absolutely loved the stuff. Years later, when I’d visit my friend Pooch’s house every weekend, his parents found out about my adoration of the wacky red soda and would stock their fridge with Tahitian Treat when they knew I was coming. The Wikipedia article for the stuff (at least while it still existed; the article has since been deleted because Tahitian Treat was deemed “non-notable”) states it’s primarily available in the south, but I can’t find it here in Florida — and I used to get it all the time back in Michigan!

Faygo Honeydew Mist.
One of Faygo’s weirder flavors, this honeydew melon flavored, puke-green soda was a strange but yet addictive taste, available for a limited time in the late ’90s. I picked up a 2-liter of the stuff from Clyde Smith’s market in Westland, MI on Saturday, July 5th, 1997 (and please don’t ask why I remember that) and found it quite delish, scarfing nearly all of the stuff during that evening’s Duke Nukem “Duke It Out in D.C.” gameplaying session. Faygo discontinued the flavor shortly thereafter, which wasn’t altogether unusual since they routinely introduce and then discontinue quirky flavors. I don’t really miss the stuff, at least not for its taste…it’s more like a link to one of the better summer vacations in my life that I wish I could get back.

General Mills S’mores Grahams cereal.
This cereal was a short-lived variant of Golden Grahams that shipped in a red box and added marshmallows and chocolate to the mix. I remember it had a big goofy animated marshmallow character on the front of the box. Oh, and the cereal was damn tasty, too. It’s another one of those products that was discontinued, then brought back, then discontinued again. I remember having it once as a kid in the ’80s during its initial run, and then in high school (right around the time of the Faygo Honeydew Mist discovery, actually) I found it on the shelf at Your Better Market and picked up a box. Kellogg’s introduced their own version of this cereal a few years ago, which they call “Smorz,” but it doesn’t taste the same.

Little Caesar’s Pepperoni Stuffed Crust piza.
You can still get stuffed crust pizza at Little Caesar’s today — and I highly recommend that you do, by the way — but for a short time in the mid-’90s, when Pizza Hut first started the whole stuffed crust craze, Little Caesar’s had not only their own stuffed crust pizza, but an additional variant that included both cheese and pepperoni stuffed into the crust. This concoction was, quite simply, delicious. They discontinued the pepperoni variant about a year later; it has never returned. Bastages.

Bill Knapps logo, circa 1994Bill Knapps.
Okay, Bill Knapps was not really something you bought at the grocery store. It was, rather, a national chain of low-cost, no-frills restaurants that featured simple comfort foods and primarily catered to old folks. Speaking of the geriatric demographic, I hear that Knapps started its days as a popular family diner, for folks of all ages, and that those people stayed with the place as they got older and then, well, you wound up with a clientele that my friends and I liked to call “Wigs and Walkers.” In the ’80s, Bill Knapps was the dinner destination for my parents and grandparents nearly every weekend, amounting to an almost religious family tradition. Their chocolate cake, soups and chicken fricassee (or “chicken and biscuits”) was the stuff of legend. Even my wife Apple thoroughly enjoyed the place, which always prompted a smug “Ha!” from me — most of my friends and family figured I was one of the few twenty-somethings who actually enjoyed eating at Knapps.

The entire Bill Knapps chain imploded from a hemorrhage of funds in the early 2000s, thanks to their costly (and utterly fruitless) efforts to rework their image to appeal to young families. This makeover, including installation of PlayStations, pinball games, televisions and ridiculous crap (like shower curtains) on the restaurant walls, cost Knapps a fortune and ended up doing nothing but turning away their loyal elderly diners in disgust. Realizing their error, Knapps did a complete 180 and went “retro,” returning to their classic decor and menu, and it worked — the old folks started coming back — but by then the damage was done and the losses too great. The whole chain folded.

A Large Hot Fudge Cake DeluxeBill Knapps’ website address, www.familydining.com, became home to an independent guide to restaurants on the Lake Michigan shoreline (before going offline entirely ca. 2012 – Ed.), but they still have this picture of Bill Knapps’ Hot Fudge Cake Deluxe on their server. In fact, if you hit up their homepage, they’ve got a recipe for a low-carb version of Knapps’ au gratin potatoes on display. Based on my search of the web, the chicken fricassee recipe has never been released, but Apple makes a bitchin’ interpretation in our crock pot which serves as a handy replacement. Thanks for keeping the dream alive, darling! 😀

6 thoughts on “Food Long Since Forgotten

  1. Hmm, yes, that sounds like a right jolly idea! I always go spaz up there buying foodstuffs that are not available here, like Awrey’s cake doughnuts, date cookies, Campbell’s Chunky split pea soup and so on. Don’t see why next month should be any exception. 🙂

    And that’s not even mentioning the restaurants and stuff, like Buddy’s, Ritter’s, Archie’s, Chin’s tiki bar/Chinese place, and the Family Bug…oh, yeah, they pulled a Knapps. As a protest against the Wal-Mart they’re building where Wonderland was, so I hear.

  2. Of course, you’ll have to get some Donutown too. 🙂

    I had some the other night. Now, if I go there and the owners are there, they know to get me a half-dozen donuts. Maybe I go there too often? =P

  3. I was lucky to find Tahitian Treat in twelve ounce twelve can boxes at Hillers or Krogers here in Ann Arbor, MI.

  4. You wouldn’t be so kind as to pass along your chicken fricasse recipe would you? Man I miss that stuff!

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