Healthy Versions of Old-School Junk-Food Snacks

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Americans love to snack. The market research firm NPD reported that we consumed nearly 386 billion ready-to-eat individual snack foods in 2018. Another marketing survey forecast that the salty snacks market alone in the U.S. will exceed $29 billion in 2022, up from $24 billion in 2017. And while healthier snacks are trending, NPD notes that “indulgent snack foods are also staging a comeback by walking the line between health and enjoyment.”

People tend to remember the snack foods of their youth — or even just the snack foods they ate up until a few years back but have since given up — with nostalgia. They might associate unrestrained consumption of sweet or salty packaged goods with an earlier, carefree time in their lives. And they might have given up certain junk-food snacks out of health concerns.

Click here for healthy versions of old-school junk-food snacks.

Or maybe they just stopped eating the snacks because they disappeared from the shelves. Food companies will regularly discontinue items if they don’t meet sales goals. Companies sometimes bring back these snacks, however, often with recipes adapted to changing tastes or dietary trends. And frequently, snacks phased out in the U.S. continue to be manufactured and sold in Canada and/or Mexico. After Dunk-a-Roos were pulled from American shelves in 2012, their manufacturer, General Mills, briefly maintained a website called Smugglaroos, through which Canadians could send “contraband” packages of the snack to their U.S. neighbors.

Some of the old-school snacks on this list compiled by 24/7 Wall St. have disappeared from the marketplace and stayed gone; others have left and then come back in altered form; and some have been here all along.

By definition, junk-food snacks aren’t particularly good for us, even when they’ve been reformulated to remove less than salubrious ingredients. But there are often substitutes available that will echo at least some of the flavor and texture of the originals, while being healthier — either because they’re lower in calories, sodium, fat, etc., or because they’re made with organic ingredients and/or without preservatives, trans fats, and other things many snackers these days would prefer to avoid.