The Secret Black Market Of 1990s Lunchbox Trades

Before Trader Joe's corn syrup-less Bunny Gummy Tummies and Friends (that's a real thing by the way), there were the unabashedly nutrition-less school lunches of my childhood — when Teddy Grahams were the same thing as graham crackers and lunch meat could consist of up to like, four animals and some mutant corn. Nope, this isn't a processed food bashing sesh. It's a processed food memorial for the previously innocent items parents now get citations for packing in their kids' lunches. They were fun, and while those days are pretty much behind us, I thought I'd shout out a few things I used to trade for when the black market opened around noon every day.


Few kids got full cans of soda in their lunchboxes, so apparently few parents were cool like that. Or maybe we were all just aware that 9-year-olds can survive on sugar water for a while, if sugar and corn syrup are the same thing.

Various chewy things in foil packets

Better known as fruit snacks, or Obaminations.


My mom wouldn't buy these for me, so I was super bad at poking the straw in when I finally got my hands on one.

Anything on Wonder Bread

I could never get over the fact that it tasted like nothing.

Quick Drake's/Hostess memorial-within-a-memorial

Cupcakes, Yodels, Funny Bones, Swiss rolls, coffee cake, Devil Dogs!

I'm calling for a mass confession: Dunkeroos, String Thing, Halloween candy every day for like, a month. Those weird chewy brownies wrapped in cellophane with the plastic frosting, and "introduction to" walnuts. I came up in the heyday of the most villainized delicious stuff humanity has probably ever created. After all those years of bombardment with junk, I'm still kickin' and going on about kale chips in California before proper morning caffeination, so whatever was going on in your lunchbox, I understand. And I will trade you my pudding cup if you tell me. Come on. Don't be a dork.

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