Top Ten Disappointing Toys You Found in Assorted Food Items of the ’90s
The usual cribbing from me of a Thursday evening, weekly shopping day. Circa 1997, I should hasten to add. Toys. In Food.
If you think about it for a second it’s a genius marketing ploy. Designed by marketing execs to guilt parents into buying the most mouldy, processed, e-number-laden shite so little Billy can collect all six mega action fun group toys in the set. All the better if the cereal/yoghurt/ice cream company had combined forces with a box office smash to provide branded plushies of the characters from the film.
‘But I waaaaant oooone pleeeeease?’
‘But you don’t even like chocolate truffle beeswax orange frappacino fingers.’
‘I dooo, I promise, I’ll eat them aaaalll.’
Fast-forward two weeks and a nearly full box of mould-covered fingers tumble into the refuse.
You don’t really see toys and food much anymore. It seems food marketing people maybe developed a conscience? Ha! Budget issues, more like. Eitherway, here at Ramp.ie we’d like to pay homage to The Most Disappointing Toys You Found in Assorted Food Items of the ’90s.
Rubbish strawberry yoghurt reminiscient of some type of B-movie alien goo. Came with an alien character as part of a larger alien family. The packaging and TV spots were all very Eurotrashy. Ayran children having the fucking time of their little lives, wooshing around a circular yoghurt pot with a toy alien in the hollowed middle. I had to have one. There was also a variant which had chocolate balls filled with yoghurt. Something I’ve yet to see again, in fact. They were good. The toys, though, were rubbishy plastic moulds capable of choking a two-year-old in 10 seconds flat. Now that I look at the name Frufoos I see it was a combination of “fruit” and “UFOs”, something that was clearly lost on me as a child…
2. Kinder Eggs
One cannot possibly laud the pairing of shitty toys and rubbish food without discussing Kinder Eggs. The mother of all crap toys, Kinder’s goodies were often too elaborate and came with a sheet of tiny stickers so complicated the six-year-old me just wanted to crush and ball up every last one of them. I think I probably got more enjoyment out of the egg shaped containers than the toys. The theme of the toys changed every few months too, accompanied by a TV campaign to inform us of such. Y’know the important stuff every six-year-old should know.
3. Kelloggs Cereal
In any ’90s kitchen cupboard you’d find a slew of mugs adorned with the Cornflakes cockerel, plastic bowls embossed with Snap, Crackle and Pop, or novelty spoons featuring the head of Tony the Tiger. But it’s not just crockery. I remember Coco the Monkey Encarta CDs, Frosties cycling gear, Jurassic Park lenticular thingies and so much more. Kelloggs were the kings of child bribery. Especially with their little cardboard windows of doom with the toy poking out the front. Designed to lure every gammy, snot-nosed child to shove their stubby digits to the bottom of the box to find the treasure within. Delightful.
4. McDonald’s Happy Meals
The Hamburglar, Ronald McDonald, diabetes, all the things a wide-eyed child could acquire from the happiest meal on earth. Coupled with some meat you wouldn’t feed a dog and chips that potato famine survivors would refuse was the Happy Meal toy. By Christ they had the BEST toys, complete with some old-school gender stereotyping! Hot Wheels for the Boys/Barbies for the girls, remember? And you could even buy the toys separately for 50p if you just wanted extra dinosaur water pistols to make your parents reconsider their family planning menthods. McDonald’s had the toy-creating power of an evil, globally-active clown so it’s no surprise that they always came out tops.
5. Other notable mentions
I am reliably informed Weetabix had some form of bookclub for kids. I’d wager the books probably had more flavor than those dried-up, wheat-laden cow turds. Not a fan. I hide it well though.
Then there were Christmas cracker toys, the cheapest crap a man could stuff into a bit of cardboard. Usually their saving grace was a HILARIOUS joke that you’d definitely never, ever heard before, and the world’s most stylish paper hat. Even the ‘luxury’ – and I use that word hesitantly – varieties contained nothing more impressive than a mini screwdriver kit, or a nailclippers at best. How did we ever contain our excitement? But wait! you cry. They don’t contain foodstuffs, so they can’t be on the list. WELL, Cadbury’s do chocolate-filled Christmas Crackers containing a Miniature Hero. Now that’s definitely worth bragging about and much more useful than a thimble that could only fit the finger of a newborn. Sweatshop idea anyone?
Do you have some faves that I’ve missed? Or something for me to rant about in the world of advertising/marketing? Drop me a mail at Don@Ramp.ie
Remember, fear may stimulate my imagination, but chillies stimulate my bowels.