I’ve got the munchies for some Eighties snacks…

So many of my fond memories of the 1980s revolve around the sights, the sounds and the fashions.

However, a recent party for my daughters got me thinking about the foods and snacks I enjoyed (or endured) during my formative years.

They seem to fall into one of three categories: a) They have become classics; b) They have been brought back due to popular demand; or c) They have vanished without a trace.

Top of my ‘gone-but-not-forgotten’ list has to be Burton’s Daily Fish ‘n’ Chips – a bizarre snack with an indescribable taste which was nevertheless strangely more-ish.

Shaped like fish or chips, they came in packets which were meant to resemble newspaper. Clever, eh?

The product was discontinued in the early-Nineties but now has something of a cult following due to its popularity with people like me who were at school at the same time as Zammo Maguire.

Sadly, Burtons has said it has no intention of producing Fish ‘n’ Chips again – presumably because no-one could decide whether they were biscuits or crisps.

Which means they join another of my old favourites which is consigned to the great snacks graveyard.

Pacers were plain white coloured chewy spearmint flavoured sweets, launched as a sister product to Opal Fruits (now called Starbursts) which eventually included three green stripes.

Tragically, this brand was discontinued in the late Eighties despite the fact that, at one point, Scottish football giants Celtic were nicknamed ‘The Pacers’ because of the similarity of their kit to the sweets.

One brand that I wish had gone the way of Pacers and Burton’s Fish ‘n’ Chips is Hubba Bubba.

Launched in the U.S. in 1979, the unique selling point of this product appeared to be that it was less sticky than other bubblegums.

Not an avid bubble-blower, yours truly was more concerned with the fact that it seemed to lose any taste it had within about 10 seconds of you chewing it and thus I haven’t bought any since 1983.

Another Eighties snack phenomenon which I could have lived without was Slush Puppies.

Marketed as a ‘slush’ beverage, the machines which dispensed this stuff suddenly popped up at petrol stations, cafés and amusement arcades.

Won over by the novelty and cute dog-in-a-bobble-hat logo, my brother and I pestered our mum for a Slush Puppie on the sea front at Rhyl and eventually wore her down.

I guess we should have realised that no fruit on the planet comes in a radioactive blue colour. Suffice to say we didn’t ask for a second helping.

Other foods which are inextricably linked to the Eighties and have survived to this day despite their inherent naffness include Pot Noodle.

Even though it comes in a plethora of flavours, I reckon that nothing which looks like it was preserved under ash at Pompeii and relies on a sachet of tomato ketchup or soy sauce to perk it up can be good for your digestive system.

By the same token, during my late teens I remember a girlfriend’s mum treating me to McCain micro chips and micro pizzas for weeks on end.

I hadn’t the heart to tell her that pizzas weren’t supposed to be soggy and that the chips were meant to taste of something.

But not all Eighties snacks were lost on me. Indeed, I should say that it was Monster Munch that got me started down this route.

A baked corn snack in the shape of a monster’s paw, with four fingers and a hole in the hand, it was actually launched by Smiths in 1978 but only really became popular in the early to mid-Eighties.

As smelly, ridiculous-looking and strangely addictive as they ever were, Monster Munch are a genuine UK snack classic and still a surefire hit with kids. Or were at last week’s party at our house.

Then there’s Diet Coke. Launched in 1982, it has since given weight-watchers like myself lots of excuses to eat badly and justify this in our heads because our drink only contains one calorie.

Let’s also not forget the chocolate bar which screams 80s like a Betamax tape and which is enjoying something of a resurgence.

Introduced across the UK in 1983, the Wispa bar was discontinued 20 years later but resurrected in 2007 thanks to an internet campaign.

Finally, we come to another treat which has stood the test of time but is arguably more famous for the TV advertisements and little musical ditties than the product itself.

I am, of course, referring to frozen ice cream Cornetto.

Apparently, the words to THAT song should be: ‘Just one Cornetto, give it to me, delicious ice-cream, of Italy, vanilla and choco dream, Give me a Cornetto, from Wall’s ice cream.’

But, if you’re like me, you’ll remember the playground version of this song which involved the words ‘you must be joking – they’re 40p’.

Blimey. 40p. Now I am showing my age.

Pick up a copy of the Weekend Sentinel every Saturday for 12 pages of nostalgia

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The Eighties is the decade most of us remember fondly

The original Now That's What I Call Music album.

The original Now That’s What I Call Music album.

Sunday, December 25, 1983. Christmas Day. That’s when I officially fell in love with the Eighties.

I sat in my bedroom marvelling at my brand new copy of the original Now That’s What I Call Music album, my shiny new record player and the sturdy black singles box containing my first 45s.

I’ve still got that album and all the seven inches – Status Quo’s Margeurita Time, Paul Young’s Wherever I Lay My Hat, and Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl, among others.

That day I played them from the moment we’d finished the turkey until I was ordered to bed.

Suddenly, at the age of 11, I realised music wasn’t the sole preserve of my parents.

Apparently, there was more to life than Elvis and Roy Orbison – despite years of brainwashing by my mum.

Money saved from my Sentinel paper round was soon being spent on singles and albums.

I walked up to Hanley on Saturdays and bought everything from Adam Ant, Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran to Bruce Springsteen and the mighty Bon Jovi.

Through music I discovered that girls weren’t just things to make you flush red if they looked at you in class or, heaven forbid, spoke to you at break time.

I took umbrage with Michael J Fox because a certain girl in the top class at Holden Lane High called him ‘dreamy’ after watching Back To The Future.

I was mesmerised when Kim Wilde or Belinda Carlisle came on the telly – and fell hopelessly in love with Susannah Hoffs from The Bangles.

I am delighted to say that while the Eighties may be the ‘decade that taste forgot’ it is also the decade that has stubbornly refused to go away.

Of course, it helps that my generation of 30 and 40-somethings are now in control of so many TV remotes and perhaps have the most disposable income.

But it is a fact that, for some time now, there has been a genuine appetite for 1980s nostalgia.
An internet campaign brought the Wispa chocolate bar back from the dead.

Monster Munch crisps have been relaunched.

Hit 80s TV shows like Starsky and Hutch and The Dukes of Hazzard have, sadly, been turned into big-budget movies.

What’s more, you can’t move for Eighties bands and singers hitting the road again to relive past glories.

People like Rick Astley, Bananarama, Midge Ure and, er… Kim Wilde (blush), who all performed at Alton Towers’ 30th birthday party at the weekend.

We lap it up because of music’s wonderful talent for forcing us to don rose-tinted Ray-Bans and reminding us of a special time in our lives.

When my sister-in-law celebrated her 40th birthday earlier this year it has to be said that the highlight of her raucous party weekend was the 1980s music.

I danced – I use that term loosely – until 3am and, as I lay in bed that night it occurred to me that I couldn’t see children of the Nineties or Noughties yearning for their formative years with quite the same enthusiasm.

For some, the Eighties was a grim decade of industrial unrest, high unemployment, terrible hair and worse clothing.

But, to me, as a child growing up in the Potteries, it is a decade that will always be golden – a time of great certainties, household names and sunny optimism.

In the Eighties, our milk man delivered bottles of pop in a variety of radioactive colours and the ‘outdoor’ at the top of our road sold Black Jacks and Fruit Salad sweets for half a pence.

Royal Doulton and Wedgwood seemed like immortal employers and a job on ‘the Mich’ (Michelin) was a job for life.

It was a time when Hanley still had family businesses like Bratt and Dyke where I could spend hours just mooching around.

It was the decade when the Boothen End proper at the Old Victoria still roared its defiance and when a certain bloke with a flat cap took over the reins at Vale Park – promising nothing and delivering the best era in my football club’s history.

It was a time when this newspaper still produced the much-anticipated Football Final on Saturdays.

It was also the decade of the Garden Festival that transformed 180 acres of derelict land in the heart of Stoke-on-Trent into the thriving retail and business park we all now take for granted.

Yes, the Eighties may well be ‘the decade that taste forgot’.

It’s also the decade that I, and I suspect many others, are most happy remembering.