We all had that favorite snack – the one we hoped was in our lunchbox when we cracked that baby open in the cafeteria. The one that made our friends envious and made everyone want to trade with us. For me, that was the glorious and now-extinct Snack Pack pudding cup.

If you never got to experience this, trust me when I tell you this gloopy treat is a far cry from today’s plastic-sealed chocolate puddings. It came in a little metal can with a razor-sharp pop off lid that was hilariously deemed “child-safe.” Perhaps because little kids could open them without use of a can opener, unless the aluminum ring came off. Then, you were left with a round tin of metal-encased sadness and you’d consider trying to puncture the can with your protractor and a rock.

Snack Pack Pudding can

In the 70s, “child safe” meant “potentially artery-severing.”

The Snack Pack pudding cup was even better than the little packs of cheese and crackers with the red plastic spreader thing, because if you had to, you could probably use the lid as a playground shank. It was dessert and security. I did slice my thumb open on numerous occasions, but childhood is all about learning, right?

Look at this. You could never defend yourself with these silly plastic cups.

I surveyed friends, family, and the Sweatpants & Coffee staff about some of their childhood favorites and learned that many of us had a fondness for canned pasta, although there is some debate about which was better – Chef Boyardee or Franco American. Our recapper, Barbara, says, “I’m French-Canadian. What do you think we ate?” My husband, however, felt like Chef Boyardee offered a better variety of squishy, meat-paste filled pasta-like foods, but that Franco American won out because of Spaghetti-Os. “All Franco American really had was Spaghetti-Os but complaining about that is like complaining that all Picasso did was paint.”


The king of canned pastas.

There was equal controversy regarding Little Debbie snack cakes vs. Hostess, with strong feelings on both sides of the packaged fruit pie issue. Apparently, you love one and hate the other. There are no fence sitters. Try asking your friends and see what happens.

Honorable mentions in the favorite old school lunch foods category include:

  • Cup O’ Noodles
  • Canned mandarin oranges, fruit cocktail, or peaches (“In heavy syrup, not that watered down nonsense.” – Bob H.)
  • Lunchables (“I wouldn’t touch them now, but I loved all the little compartments!” – Jen V.)
  • Keebler Fudge Stripe Cookies (“Brandished on a finger while you ate around it as much as possible before it cracked.” Greg J.)

In the “hard to explain” category, we must include Spam and Vienna sausage. It’s actually not hard to explain if you grew up in Hawaii like I did and canned meat was a staple – it’s a post-WWII thing. But other people seem to have meat product shame with regard to these delicacies.

What was your childhood favorite?

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