35 Popular '90s Food Trends, Ranked

When it comes to food, nostalgia can sometimes be one of the best ingredients. It's a conduit to the tastes, textures, and times we hold dear. Your favorite sandwich can remind you of a carefree childhood moment, while the sting of a sugary soda can harken back to a memorable family trip. Nostalgia can be bittersweet, but fortunately, food has a way of balancing out the experience.

One era of food that casts a spell of nostalgia is the 1990s. From sugar rush-inducing beverages to breakfast game-changers and immersive themed restaurants, the '90s were a time of color and fun. While many popular foods, drinks, and snacks from the era drifted away with the changing tides, others have impressively stood the test of time.

That said, if there's one thing you can say about the '90s, it's that processed food never tasted so good. So, in honor of when cats ate lasagna and mutated teenage turtles inspired us to eat more pizza, we've put together a list of popular '90s food trends.

35. Orbitz

The '90s were filled with many gimmicky products that were way more fun than actually good. One eye-catching oddball beverage that promised not only a refreshing taste, but a chewy one as well, is Orbitz. Looking to recreate the mesmerizing allure of lava lamps, another popular product of a bygone era, Orbitz soda featured tiny floating balls in it. Unfortunately, the soda was syrupy, and the ballsy gimmick didn't stop Orbitz from being discontinued.

34. Kid Cuisine

By the '90s, microwavable frozen dinners had been a popular go-to for decades since hitting the market in 1954. At the time, a frozen dinner geared specifically towards kids made perfect business sense. Kid Cuisine debuted in 1990, luring hungry kids with classic meal options like the All-American Fried Chicken and the Constructor Beef Patty Sandwich. While an undeniable childhood classic, by today's health-aware standards, Kid Cuisine might be better off left on ice.

33. Sunny Delight

Drinking Sunny Delight always somehow made you cooler. Its iconic commercial sold us on the idea of it being the most refreshing, best-tasting juice in the world — or at least better than that mysterious "purple stuff." Falsely marketed as rich in vitamins, Sunny D's syrupy taste thrived during the sugary heights of the '90s. Even though Sunny D isn't really orange juice, it was placed next to it at grocery stores.

32. Squeezits

Many '90s products often featured an interactive element that made enjoying them an entire experience. Squeezits are a perfect example of that. Sugary and, well, ... sugary, the best thing about them was not the taste, but the fun bottle they came in. It was made to be squeezed, and kids couldn't get enough of it. If you wonder what happened to Squeezits, sadly, a squeeze of sugar wasn't enough to keep sales from declining.

31. Dunkaroos

Americans have an odd fascination with animal-shaped cookies. In the 1990s, kangaroo-shaped Dunkaroos hopped onto the snack scene. The cinnamon-y cookies weren't actually the highlight, though — a tiny tub of sugary frosting was the real selling point. While its popularity in the States waned over the years, Dunkaroos are still widely available in Canada and can be ordered online. If you'd rather avoid the exchange rates, you can take a hop down memory lane with this homemade Dunkaroo recipe.

30. Viennetta

One iconic frozen treat from the '90s is Viennetta. Made with layers of ice cream and frozen chocolate, Viennetta had an elegant appearance, yet was affordably priced. A deliciously decadent dessert for a few dollars? There's no wonder this fancy frozen treat ruled the '90s. Sadly, its popularity faded and it was discontinued. For many years it was only available outside of the U.S., but Good Humor recently reintroduced Viennetta. While not as popular, one slice is still never enough.

29. Grilled fish and salsa

Salsa had a major buzz during the 1990s. At one point, according to The New York Times, it had even beaten ketchup in retail sales. Clearly, salsa had made a big impression on Americans. One nostalgic food trend from the '90s was the heavenly pairing of salsa with grilled fish. It's a classic duo that's still enjoyed today because of its versatility, which lets you pick and choose different fish and salsa pairings.

28. White chocolate

Although it isn't actually real chocolate, this white-colored creamy confection made a wave during the '90s. According to an Associated Press article from 1989, food experts forecasted that white chocolate would be the hot chocolate of the '90s. It was popular in Europe long before the U.S. because, at the time, federal regulations didn't allow the term "white chocolate." Nestlé was pivotal in introducing it to American consumers in 1985. Throughout the decade its popularity would grow with the help of Hershey, Ghirardelli, and Cadbury.

27. Sesame-crusted tuna

A menu mainstay at restaurants across America during the '90s was sesame-crusted tuna (or pepper-crusted tuna). Seared and served rare, it was typically topped with a wasabi-mayo drizzle or another wasabi-laced variation. Fresh, tasty, and healthy, there's no wonder why this90s go-to is still a popular dish today. The best part is that it's easy to make at home. Keep the era alive and well with this sesame-crusted tuna steak recipe.

26. Themed Restaurants

Another popular trend from the 1990s that made eating out a whole lot more fun was themed restaurants. Whether you were enjoying the overhanging jungle aesthetic of Rainforest Cafe or dining like an A-lister at Planet Hollywood, there was no shortage of imaginative themes to experience. Themed restaurants reached their peak in the '90s, expanding all over the nation. Success would be short-lived though, as Rainforest Cafe, Planet Hollywood, and ESPN Zone saw a drop in revenue.

25. Hubba Bubba Bubbletape

From its catchy name to its clever packaging, Hubba Bubba Bubbletape definitely gave '90s kids something to chew about. It came in a pink tape dispenser-inspired packaging with over 72 feet of bubble gum — that's more than two school buses in length. Kids would chew to their heart's content, and in fact, thanks to Hubba Bubba, "bubble gum face" was a pretty common occurrence. Time-tested and chewed, Hubba Bubba is still one of the most popular bubble gum brands in the world.

24. Trix Yogurt

One could argue that yogurt is the adult version of pudding, and while that isn't technically true, from a kid's perspective, pudding is definitely the more enjoyable of the two. In the 1990s, Yoplait set out to make yogurt more kid-friendly with Trix Yogurt. Featuring unique flavors, colorful packaging, and an overload of sugar, Trix Yogurt captured the hearts of tiny tots everywhere. Even today, Trix Yogurt remains a popular go-to for parents.

23. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Ice Cream Bar

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were at peak popularity during the 1990s. The cartoon spawned everything from comic books to beach towels and coffee mugs, so of course, TMNT-inspired foods made perfect sense. Ironically, one of the most famous food products inspired by the pizza-loving quartet is the Ninja Turtle ice cream bar. Shaped like their heads, you could choose your favorite of the four brothers. You can still find these iconic bars on neighborhood ice cream trucks and online.

22. Butterfinger BBs

These tiny balls of crunchy, buttery, goodness made the '90s all the more sweet for kids. During their peak, Butterfinger BBs nearly joined the ranks of candy heavyweights. They packed all of the delicious flavor of Butterfinger bars yet were more movie, road trip, and share-friendly. Having the ”'90s cartoon kid idol Bart Simpson as the mascot didn't hurt either. Sadly, Butterfinger BBs had a tendency to melt easily and were discontinued back in 2006.

21. Ecto Cooler

Every now and then, a food product helps solidify a film's cultural impact. Inspired by the paranormal classic "Ghostbusters," Ecto Cooler was released by beverage brand Hi-C in the late '80s and gained popularity in the '90s. Much to the disappointment of many who enjoyed its citrusy tangerine flavor, Ecto Cooler was discontinued in 2001. It made a brief return with the release of 2021's "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," yet wasn't actually sold in stores.

20. Fruitopia

Life was much simpler when flavored drinks contained dangerous amounts of sugar. Fruitopia was one such beverage. It was introduced by Coca-Cola in 1994 as a response to the popularity of flavored teas like Snapple. Fruitopia featured an assortment of flavors with cool names like Grape Beyond and Citrus Consciousness. Although successful throughout the '90s, it was discontinued in 2003 simply for lacking excitement. Today, it can only be found in the U.S. at McDonald's as a fountain drink, yet is still available in Canada and Australia.

19. Pillsbury Toaster Strudel

Although released in 1985, Pillsbury Toaster Strudel established itself as the official competition to Pop-Tarts with their 1994 advertising slogan "Something better just popped up." While attempts at knocking Pop-Tarts from the top spot proved unsuccessful, their popularity endured through the '90s to today. In all honesty, marketing might've been the biggest determining factor in the battle of toasted pastries, as you can easily find someone who prefers these over Pop-Tarts.

18. Stuffed crust pizza

There are few innovations in pizza more iconic than Pizza Hut's Stuffed Crust pizza. It was a rare genius idea that surprisingly hadn't been invented until the '90s. While the original inventor of stuffed crust is debated, Pizza Hut is the brand known for solidifying it as a piece of food history. Created as an answer to boring pizza crust, but the extra cheese was super salty, making it both a highlight and a downside.

17. Espresso martini

In the '90s, the cool kids kept the night going with a caffeinated and cosmopolitan espresso martini. Elegant and aesthetically pleasing, the espresso martini has become a timeless libation that is still enjoyed worldwide. It was originally conceived in the 1980s after a model requested a drink that would "wake me up and then f**k me up." Since that fateful night, espresso martinis have done both to many a model as well as countless other martini lovers.

16. Molten lava cake

As is quite normal in the world of food, the origin story behind molten lava cake is up for debate. Although some credit it to French chef Michel Bras' coulant au chocolat, the person responsible for its ubiquity throughout the '90s is restaurateur Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Vongerichten claimed to have stumbled upon molten lava cake by mistake in 1987, eventually adding it to the menu of his dining room at the Trump International Hotel, where it became a big hit. Restaurants all over America soon began offering their own molten lava cake.

15. Ring Pop

Iconic is an understatement when it comes to this nifty '90s candy. Ring Pop took the mobile-friendliness of lollipops and made them fashionable. Rather than holding a stick, kids could wear their favorite Ring Pop flavor. In fact, the massive success of Ring Pop was mostly due to its novelty. They're actually pretty messy and have a tendency to run down your hand. Ring Pop is still widely available, yet not nearly as popular as they once were.

14. Airheads

Airheads are another hugely popular candy from the '90s. Sugary and straightforward, Airheads opted for simplicity rather than fun interactive packaging (unlike many other candies of the time). Each package features a single strip of fruit-flavored candy and is so good that you could easily eat five in one sitting. Available in eight flavors, even now, millions of Airheads are produced each day — a testament to the candy's staying power. Fun fact: they're also vegan and gluten-free.

13. Planters Cheez Balls

There are fan pages dedicated specifically to this iconic '90s snack. When it comes to Planters Cheez Balls, there are two guarantees: satisfaction and cheesy dust-laden fingers. Much to the trauma of longtime fans, it's a product that has been discontinued and relaunched several times over the years. It was last discontinued for a 12-year stretch before it returned to shelves permanently in 2019, along with its "Cheez" in powdered form. Suffice to say, this legendary snack is here to stay.

12. Extreme candies

If there's anything you can say about humans, it's that we love trying extreme and unpredictable flavors. During the 1990s, there were several popular extreme candies. From tart, to sour and tongue-stinging hot, the '90s were made for adventurous candy lovers. Warheads and Fruit Gushers excelled at giving kids the sourface, Red Hots had you running to the nearest water fountain, and Sweet Tarts tasted addictively bittersweet. Even today, these candies are still loved by kids and adults that still have the '90s kid living inside of them.

11. Boca Burger

It's easy to forget that not long ago, meatless proteins were nearly non-existent. Brands like Boca Burger and Morningstar Farms helped to lay the groundwork in the '90s. If you were eating Boca Burger back then, you were far ahead of the plant-based curve. While still around, by today's standards, Boca is no longer leading the pack for alt-proteins. Its distinct taste will always be remembered by those who braved the early days of veggie burgers.

10. Bagel Bites

The concept of pizza is one of those genius ideas so good that it's tasty no matter what form it takes. Cheese and pepperoni are just as delicious on a tortilla as they are on a crust, which is why Bagel Bites are so darn classic. In the '90s, these miniature cheese and pepperoni-topped bagels were hits amongst families. Even today, Bagel Bites are super popular and now available in six different flavors, along with a breakfast line of Bagel Bites.

9. Hot Pockets

In addition to Bagel Bites, the '90s also popularized another classic pizza-adjacent snack called Hot Pockets. Closer in comparison to a calzone, Hot Pockets are microwavable meat-filled pastries that have a fanbase spanning back over three decades. They're quick, easy, and come in over 50 different flavor varieties that can be enjoyed by all ages. A proven classic, it's clear that Hot Pockets have solidified their place in our culinary zeitgeist for many more years to come.

8. Snapple

Easily one of the more memorable beverages of the '90s, Snapple helped to lay the foundation for craft-brewed drinks. It began with iced tea before expanding to fruit flavors. While Pepsi and Coke were battling it out over the soda throne, Snapple had unintentionally tapped into a non-existent market. Snapple's success continued beyond the '90s, introducing bottle cap facts that became a signature of the brand. Unfortunately, in today's craft brew-heavy marketplace, Snapple is no longer the belle of the ball.

7. Arizona Beverage Company

Another beverage brand that helped popularize ready-made tea is the Arizona Beverage Company. Launched in the early 1990s, its co-founder Don Vultaggio actually credited the inspiration behind the brand to Snapple's success. He wanted a drink that exuded a warm and healthy environment, a goal most beverages at the time weren't aiming for. Its artistic packaging made it stand out and helped it become an instant hit. Arizona is still a common choice for its taste and cost, which has maintained at 99 cents since 1992.

6. Lunchables

In the '90s, no snack made kids more envious during school lunch period than Lunchables. PB&J? No way. Baloney and cheese without the CapriSun and pudding sides? Hard pass. No matter what you had a craving for as a kid, Lunchables had you covered. The biggest downside is that every kid couldn't afford them, which contributed to their love and hate. Cafeteria politics aside, Lunchables are still enjoyed today and were even officially added to school menus earlier this year.

5. Capri Sun

While the '90s were a time of high fructose syrup and artificial flavoring, there were some truly genius approaches to product packaging. One of the best examples of the era is Capri Sun. It was sold in an iconic silver-colored juice pouch and opened by puncturing a tiny hole with a thin straw. Capri Sun stood out from the rest with its unique packaging, but it's the commercials that helped to make it truly successful. Even today Capri Sun is a popular kid's drink around the world.

4. Chicken Caesar salad

Chicken Caesar Salad was one of the most beloved salads of the 1990s. It was a mainstay on menus from restaurants to coffee shops, and the salad dressing was popular too. And that's because chicken Caesar salad is simply timeless. Refreshing romaine lettuce, deliciously creamy dressing, crunchy croutons, and a sprinkle of Parmesan, there's no surprise why it became such a culinary staple. Even at home, a grilled chicken Caesar salad is a quick and reliably tasty go-to.

3. Sun-dried tomatoes

Tart, chewy, and packed with flavor, sun-dried tomatoes are one of the best recipe-enhancing ingredients, period. They became a go-to for chefs during the 1990s, which ultimately led to their cultural ubiquity. Like any hot new ingredient, chefs quickly jumped on the trend, resulting in a decline in quality as well as demand. Despite their gradual decline, sun-dried tomatoes are still considered a super delicious, versatile, and beloved ingredient to this day. 

2. Pesto

The '90s also saw the rise of pesto. According to a 2008 article from Sunset, pesto's earliest mention in a major publication can be traced back to a New York Times issue released in the mid-1940s. Sunset would be the first to publish an actual recipe in 1959. Even still, it wasn't until the '80s and '90s that pesto began gaining popularity amongst chefs and home cooks. You don't need a history buff to tell you how popular it's become over the years.

1. Pop-Tarts

Without a doubt, Pop-Tarts are the most iconic food trend from the '90s. Although originally released in the 1960s, Pop-Tarts attracted parents and kids alike with their iconic commercials and easy preparation. Today, the company offers dozens of flavor options and is still beloved by all ages. Although a number of different iterations have been introduced over the years, the original pastry with frosting style remains the company's most popular product.