A Record of the Foodstuffs I'll Never Eat Again
They're making Surge again, and... I hate to say it. Surge deserved to die.
Google "Crystal Pepsi" or "Nerds Cereal" and you will find plenty of nostalgia concerning all sorts of discontinued products. The thing is, most of those trendy foodstuffs of yore tasted bad or looked weird and earned their fates. Survival of fittest. Don't feel bad, it's nature's way.
But there are several products that I will never consume again, and it makes me sad not because they were some novelty, but because they tasted great. They were unique and now they're gone forever, and this is my gallery of foods I will miss, recorded for posterity and my aging memory.
Ore-Ida Cheddar Browns
My entire childhood, my family, my parents cooking brunch on a Sunday while my brother and I played Nintendo after church, cold winter mornings before school when my mom made us warm breakfasts because she cared about our health and our school performance and wanted to make us happy, all of that would rush back to me in a deluge of memory and feeling if I could just eat one more bite of an Ore-Ida Cheddar Brown. Those things were so good, salty and cheesy, and they took forever to cook, but it you left them in the pan they got so brown and delicious. One more box of Cheddar Browns, what I wouldn't give. I like to imagine someone out there has a box in the back of his or her freezer, but they would be so freezer burnt by now. Hope dies with ice crystals and freezer odor.
Jolly Good Fruit Punch
Jolly Good was a Wisconsin brand of soda, purchased by the can, which was delightful. Mixing and matching pop cans on a little cardboard pallet, that's how I learned to plan and organize. Sour Pow'r registers on many people's nostalgia scale, but Fruit Punch was so sweet and fruity and amazing that I can still taste it, unlike many of these other products. A bit of good news - Jolly Good has a Facebook page and is once again producing soda, for sale at Cedar Valley Cheese Store in Random Lake, Wisconsin. Supposedly more flavors are on the way, and maybe broader distribution. I will attempt to corral my optimism, as that news makes me quite excited.
Campbell's Select Italian Wedding Soup
My favorite canned soup of all time perished in the Great Campbell's Salt Purge of 2009. From what I can tell, they moved Italian Wedding to their "Healthy Selects" line, took out the sodium and the flavor, and when I ate that last can of the good stuff, I didn't even know. I would have appreciated it more. I would have spent more time. I would have licked out the inside of the bowl. Now they sell an Italian Wedding soup as part of the Campbell's Cunky Line, but it's not as good. It's got a weird, gross carrot aftertaste. I could try to make my own, but it would never compare.
Coffee Mate Blueberry Cobbler Creamer
Please hold on. I understand blueberry coffee sounds atrocious, but it wasn't. It so, so was not. This sweet nectar was never intended to last; it was a special holiday flavor, but I first tried it at my in-laws on a blustery winter day, Christmas or thereabouts, and it transported me, it flew me to a land of flavor where everything good about coffee and breakfast and fruit and baked goods and the holiday season blended together in a vortex of steamy warmth and sweetness. Cuddling has a flavor, and it's coffee with a generous pour of blueberry cobbler creamer.
Apparently Oompas existed in the 1980's as Willy Wonka's version of Reese's Pieces, and there is plenty of candy nostalgia for that peanut butter version. But in the early 2000's, Wonka released a new Oompa, which copied Skittles, except bigger, chewier, and significantly tastier. Every time my new wife and I drove to visit my parents' northwoods cabin, we stopped at the Kwik Trip in Medford and I enjoyed a bag of Oompas while we held hands across the big bench seat of my 1985 Buick Regal. The scene was almost as sweet as the candy, sweet enough to make most people nauseous. Oompas were young love in a plastic pouch, and now they're gone. Thankfully my marriage survives.