1. 1. Cereal
Stuffing down bowls of sugary cereal while watching Saturday morning cartoons like the Smurfs and Dungeons & Dragons. Reading the back of the box from your ‘cereal fort’ before you went to school. Kix was as healthy as cereal got back then—no whole grains need apply. Frosted Flakes was super-healthy because it was endorsed by Tony the Tiger and tigers were athletic and stuff when they ate cornflakes encrusted in sugar. Cereal was chosen by the quality of the prize, the cereal-to-marshmallow ratio and the attractiveness of the cartoon mascot.
2. My sense of what was advertising and what was programming was so vague, I still weep for the Trix rabbit, even today…
Note the stellar prize and the proud boasting of its sugar frosting and corn puffs circa 1979.
3. 2. McDonald’s was like, a health food.
Because the commercials said so, if your parents bought you McDonald’s Happy Meals, they were totally the best parents ever. Plus, Happy Meal prizes were really good back then. And McDonald’s could encourage you to be athletic because it sponsored the Olympics and everything. You could even win more McDonald’s by playing the Olympics game. The pies were still fried in the 80s. And the food cost almost nothing.
5. And you’d get free coupons for Halloween…
Giving these out today would qualify as dietary child abuse.
6. 3. Food was totally okay to give as a reward to kids as a bribe.
Pizza parties on Friday for good behavior!
Oh, the carbs, oh the humanity. And back then meeting common core standards meant not beating up anyone on the playground for the entire week.
7. And you’d get a reward in your lunchbox just like this…
Hostess cupcakes to balance out the classic 80s lunch of (non-natural) peanut butter and jelly on white bread and a banana on the side.
8. Or if your parents were SUPER healthy, chocolate chip granola bars were your reward…
9. 4. In fact, sugar was everywhere—you got candy when you parents went to the BANK.
Remember brick-and-mortar banks?
10. The point of Halloween was to get as much sugar as possible….
None of the parents gave their kids’ candy away or paid their kids to throw it away…
11. 5. And somehow, no one had peanut allergies, didn’t eat sugar, or had lactose intolerance, or was gluten-free.
Food allergies are real and obviously nothing to play around with but for whatever reason in the 80s, I don’t remember any kid saying “I am vegan and lactose intolerant” when offered one of these…