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From Gushers to SpaghettiOs: Do Our Childhood Foods Still Taste Good?

02/10/2014 03:59 pm ET | Updated Apr 11, 2014
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Whether you grew up in the age of Pong or PaRappa the Rapper, your youth was marked with some sort of interesting and awesome food that dominated your lunchbox (which, let's face it, was Lisa Frank no matter what decade you call your childhood). But don't you ever wonder what happened to those foods after you grew up and started eating difficult cheese instead of the Easy variety?

We did, and that's why we decided to go back in time to our halcyon days and retry our favorite childhood treats. Turns out some still hold up. Others prove that kids sometimes have really dumb tongues.

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Snackwell's Devil's Food Cookie Cakes by Lee Breslouer

What they taste like: These are as delicious as they tasted in the '90s, and still fat free! You first bite into a pillowy chocolate cake cut with a tiny bit of marshmallow to make you feel real "naughty", because when you're a woman in her mid-40's who's been stuck in a loveless marriage for 15 years, buying a box of these in the supermarket is what passes for naughty. What I'm saying is that I'm not the target audience for Snackwell's. But I still love them.

Are they as good as you remember?: Absolutely. It's like my taste buds got in a time machine to 1994.

How can they be adapted for adults?: Sign me up for a boozy chocolate cake milkshake made with these suckers.

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Ellio's Pizza by Ben Robinson

What it tastes like: Growing up in New York, I had abundant access to world-class pizza. Hell, the nothing joint named Jimmy's Pizza at the top of the hill was (and still is) better than 99 percent of slices I've had anywhere since. But Jimmy's was always there, and Ellio's was something I had to have at, like, Trav's house. Man has always lusted after the frozen pizza his mom refuses to buy him.

Whatever the surrounding factors, I remember it being delicious. Poor me. After 12-15 minutes in the toaster oven, the unseparated triptych of rectangles actually looked fairly appealing. Then I bit in, and tasted... sameness. Somehow the cheese tasted the same as the sauce, which tasted the same as the crust. The homogeneity was a neat trick I suppose, but an undelicious one.

Is it as good as you remember?: No, unless my memory broke.

How can it be adapted for an adult palate?: Lobotomizing those adults' tongues.

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Crackers 'N Cheese Handi-Snack by Andy Kryza

What it tastes like: Once a go-to snack that could score you anything in a trade -- pizza, nuggets, you name it -- Handi-Snacks have retained their "is it really cheese?" flavor, but the crackers are now made by Ritz, meaning they're more buttery than ever. That should be a good thing. But where they upped the ante on the cracker, the cheese is now soupier and somehow tastes even faker than before. And the new crackers totally prevent the cheese from seeping through the holes (they're sealed with butter) like a Play-Doh factory. They're actually kinda gross, but not the good gross I remember, and I can't figure out why I just stuck my tongue in the cheese reservoir and opened another pack.

Is it as good as you remember?: Not nearly.

How can it be adapted for an adult palate?: Toss the cheese and sub in some good old-fashioned Easy Cheese.

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Easy Cheese (w/ Ritz Crackers) by Mike Barish

What it tastes like: I expected it to have a horrible aftertaste, or for the texture to totally turn me off. But it's delicious. It tastes like the cheese in Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, which, you know, is awesome. It doesn't taste like the cheese you'd get at a wine tasting, but, let's be honest, when was the last time you were at a wine tasting? If it was, however, served at a wine tasting, you'd sound pretty smart if you called it "infinitely eatable."

Is it as good as you remember?: Yes. Possibly better.

How can it be adapted for an adult palate?: Skip the Ritz Crackers and upgrade to something whole grain (maybe even with some sort of seeds). A crispier, crunchier cracker will prevent the Easy Cheese from forming a mortar in your mouth.

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