Tag: 90’s

Ernest Scared Stupid Was Hokey, But Fun

Ernest Scared Stupid

Somebody with a runny nose is gonna die.

Having already applied his bumbling shenanigans to one holiday in 1988’s Ernest Saves Christmas, slapstick neighborhood doofus Ernest P. Worrell set his sights on Halloween in 1991’s Ernest Scared Stupid. Purring singer/actress Eartha Kitt joined in the spooky/goofy shenanigans, as did an army of slimy trolls.

This time around, Ernest is in suburban Missouri, working as a garbage collector. As always, he’s a friend to kids everywhere, so when a group of neighborhood preteens asks for his help building a treehouse, Ernest naturally obliges. But this particular oak tree happens to hold Trantor, a 200-year-old evil troll, and as local crone Old Lady Hackmore warns, the troll will be released if a Worrell puts his hand on the tree the night before Halloween and says, “Trantor, I call thee forth.” Well, stupid is as stupid does…

Once Trantor is released, the mean, mucous-covered munchkin sets out to capture the souls of Ernest’s young pals by turning them into wooden dolls. That’s bad enough, but when Trantor tries to pull his wooden magic on Ernest’s pet dog Rimshot, the little snotface has crossed the line. Ernest is out to kick some troll tushie, and this time, it’s personal.

The Halloween season wasn’t as good to Ernest as Christmas had been three years earlier. Ernest’s “human cartoon” slapstick still brought in fans, but not as many as previous films had. Ernest Scared Stupid was the last Ernest movie made in partnership with Disney subsidiary Touchstone, but director John Cherry and actor Jim Varney plugged ahead without the corporate backing, turning out Ernest Rides Again in 1993 and four more direct-to-video Ernest films over the following five years.

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Are You Afraid of the Dark

The age-old tradition of the campfire ghost story got a 1990’s update in Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark? Debuting as part of the Friday night SNICK block in 1992, the show featured a group of teen and preteen storytellers, each telling tales of the spooky and the macabre.

Horror fan Gary was the founder of the Midnight Society, a club of kids who each week retired deep into the woods, lit a campfire and took turns scaring the living daylights out of one another. In addition to Gary, the original Midnight Society lineup included Betty Ann, Kiki, Frank, Kristen, David and Eric.

As each episode began, one of the Midnight Society members would begin spinning his or her web of gloom, and the show would segue into a dramatization of the story. The familiar vampires, werewolves, haunted houses, mad scientists, etc., were all present in the kids’ tales, but the stories also delved into Twilight Zone territory. Kids were given twisted morality lessons about prank phone call police, magic mirrors that showed inner ugliness, the problems with having your wishes all come true, and so on. And for the hard core scare fans, the Midnight Society also had its share of voodoo, cannibals, scary clowns and raising the dead.

The Midnight Society was the show’s only regular cast, as other actors took over during the stories themselves. That left plenty of room for guest stars, and Are You Afraid of the Dark? filled the bill with appearances by Bobcat Goldthwaite, Melissa Joan Hart, Neve Campbell, Boy Meets World’s Will Friedle and TV’s original Riddler, Frank Gorshin.

Midnight Society members came and went during the show’s first run, with Sam, Stig and Gary’s kid brother Tucker joining up to replace the exiting spook meisters. With the start of the sixth season—which came after a three years of no new episodes—an entire new Midnight Society was formed, with only Tucker hanging on as the group’s new leader. Excitable tomboy Vange, upscale Megan, burly farm boy Andy and streetwise Quinn were now the ones sharing their chilling yarns.

After more than seven seasons and dozens of nightmares, the Midnight Society continue to hold their macabre meetings in the woods, and as long as kids love good ghost stories, the tradition will surely stay alive.

And do you remember that cool dust they would throw on the camp fire to make the flames change colors?  Well you can get the can of crystals so you can replicate it at your own camp fire.  Check them out here on Amazon.

Eerie, Indiana

Eerie Indiana

This ultra-quirky sitcom was notable for any reasons. Not only did it place the family sitcom in a unique setting and situation, its sophisticated handling of its paranormal elements also paved the way for later non-sitcom shows like The X-Files and Roswell.

The show focused on Marshall Teller, a young man who felt quite homesick when his inventor father, Edgar, uprooted the family from their New Jersey home and moved them to Eerie, a small town in Indiana. Also along for the ride were Marilyn, Marshall’s mom, and Syndi, his narcissistic older sister. Marshall’s post-move depression quickly gave way to bemusement when he took stock of his new surroundings.

The town of Eerie truly managed to live up to its name. Bizarre things went on night and day: Elvis Presley lived in a little suburban house, there were two young men who had remained teenagers since the 1960’s by sleeping every night in giant plastic containers called Foreverware, and the dogs in the pound were making an escape plan that could only be heard over a friend’s set of dental retainers.

Unfortunately, Marshall’s parents and sister either were too busy to notice or wouldn’t believe him when he pointed these things out. Luckily, he found an ally in Simon, another kid his age who also believed that strange things were afoot in the town of Eerie. Together, the duo would ride their bikes around town and keep tabs on all the unusual goings-on.

Although nominally aimed at children, Eerie Indiana was smart enough to be enjoyed by older viewers. The series’ eccentric sense of humor made frequent use of in-jokes related to television and film, touching on everything from Twin Peaks to Godzilla. Also, the show wasn’t afraid to play with the medium of TV itself, something it did memorably in an episode titled “Reality Takes A Holiday.” In this episode, Marshall found a script for a television show in his mailbox and then realized his life was being turned into a show called “Eerie, Indiana.”

The show was canceled in April of 1992 after 20 episodes. However, it became popular again after the similar The X-Files became a hit, getting frequent reruns on various cable stations and building a cult of dedicated viewers. It remains popular with fans of the bizarre today for its mixture of eccentric humor and its sly knowledge of horror and science-fiction conventions.

Sea Monkeys Were a Cool Concept

Sea Monkeys

There have been plenty of toys that allowed to children to put their natural creative energies to work. Legos, Erector sets, and countless other similar items let kids build elaborate kingdoms and complex machines to satisfy the need to create. Sea Monkeys took this process one step further and allowed more enterprising youngsters to actually create life. With the help of elaborate ads that seemed to appear in every comic book released during the late 1960’s and 1970’s, the scientific marvels known as Sea Monkeys became one of the most popular toys of all time.

Sea Monkeys are not actually monkeys, but they do come from the sea and are real living things (contrary to popular belief and urban legend). To be specific, they are “Artemia Salina,” or “brine shrimp” in layman’s terms. They were thought of as mere fish food for many years until Harold von Braunhut, a man who is famous among toy enthusiasts for inventing X-Ray Spex, discovered these marvels of the sea. He saw their potential as a pet and developed a simple, three-step kit that allowed aspiring young marine biologists to raise their own brine shrimp in a container of water.

Honey Toy Industries obtained the rights to Von Braunhut’s kit and began marketing it in 1960 as Instant Life. When it didn’t become an immediate hit, Von Braunhut came up with the brainstorm of advertising the kit in comic books. Von Braunhut also noticed that the little brine shrimp resembled monkeys when they grew to adulthood, so he added the phrase “Sea Monkeys” to the packaging of Instant Life. As a result, sales for the newly-named Sea Monkeys began to skyrocket, and Sea Monkeys ads became an ubiquitous presence in the ad pages of comic books everywhere.

By the 1970’s, Instant Life was one of the coolest toys a kid could own. As a result of its success, Honey Toy Industries changed its name to the more official-sounding Transcience Corporation. Also, Instant Life became known simply as Sea Monkeys, since the fanciful depictions of Sea Monkey families used in the ads had become the crucial selling point. Indeed, comic book-reading kids everywhere fantasized about raising their own kingdoms of these strange humanoid-looking creatures.


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Sea Monkeys gained additional hipness when they were packaged with special containers called Ocean Zoos. These mini-aquariums have since become the definitive home for Sea Monkeys. Sea Monkeys gained another home when the Deluxe Sea-Monkey Speedway was introduced in 1974. This device, which took advantage of the fact that Sea Monkeys swim against the current, included “tracks” so the Sea Monkey owner could raise champion Sea Monkeys. Another success, the Speedway led to follow-ups like Sea-Monkey Cycle Race, Sea-Monkey Ski Trails, and Sea-Monkey Fox Hunt. There was also the Incredible Sea-Bubble, a mini-aquarium on a chain that could be worn as a necklace.

The Sea Monkeys phenomenon had become an institution by the end of the 1970’s. Its success also inspired a follow-up pet from Transcience Corporation known as the Crazy Crab. They were actually hermit crabs, a land-dwelling scavenger species. Like the Sea Monkeys, they became a hit and inspired a craze. In the 1980’s and early 1990’s, Sea Monkeys moved on to new distributors like Larami and Basic Fun with middling degrees of success. They were no longer as hip as they were during their 1970’s heyday, but the novelty of Sea Monkeys remained strong enough to keep them selling on name-value alone.

In the mid-1990’s, Sea Monkeys made a triumphant comeback when they began being distributed by ExploraToys. Now that the toy was old enough to be retro-hip, both kids and the adults who grew up with the Sea Monkey phenomenon were buying Sea Monkeys. They have also transcended their comic-book ad origins to be sold in national toy-store chains. And as long as toy fanatics want to take their love of creating things to the next level, Sea Monkeys will allow them to “create life.”

New Kids on the Block – The Original Boy Band

New Kids on the Block

New Kids On The Block was the original ‘boy band’ of 90’s. They sold records by the millions with their r&b-inflected; bubblegum pop, filled concert halls with screaming girls wherever they went, and dominated teen magazines with their hunky yet clean-cut image. They also set the tone for future boy groups like the Backstreet Boys and N’Sync by introducing rap and funk elements to the teen-pop sound.

This group was formed by Maurice Starr, the music impresario behind the early success of New Edition. He chose the five members-brothers Jonathan and Jordan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg and Danny Wood, all Massachusetts natives-and supervised them as they undertook a year of intensive voice and dance training. The group released their first album in 1986 and began touring the U.S, including a stint as the opening act for Tiffany’s 1988 tour. The non-stop concerts would pay off in early 1989 when “You Got It (The Right Stuff),” a rap-styled slice of dance-pop from their second album, Hanging Tough, became a #3 hit. The New Kids had officially arrived.

Hanging Tough quickly became a #1 hit album and stayed on the charts for two years. It also spawned two #1 singles: “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)” was a sweetly harmonized ballad, while “Hanging Tough” was a combination of pop and rap spiced up with an infectious ‘Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh” chant. The group continued to tour, including visits to both Disneyland and Disney World, as they began to dominate MTV and teen magazines. They scored additional Top-10 hits with “Cover Girl,” a remake of the soul classic “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time,” and the Merry, Merry Christmas album.

1990 began on a high note for the New Kids when they won the Favorite Group and Favorite Album honors at the American Music Awards. They also scored a Top-10 hit with a lush ballad called “This One’s For The Children.” New Kid dolls were put out by enterprising toy company and sold by the millions as the group went on another highly successful tour. That summer, they released Step By Step, which quickly shot to #1. It produced another two hit singles in the danceable title track and “Tonight,” a typically smooth New Kids ballad.

By 1991, the New Kids were a phenomenon that had inspired books, comics, videotapes, a recorded-message hotline, and even a Saturday morning cartoon. Their next release was No More Games, an album of remixes (along with the original title track) that became a Top-20 hit. The New Kids embarked on their first international tour and scored major successes in England and Japan. In between all this activity, Donnie Wahlberg found the time to write and produce the #1 hit “Good Vibrations” for his brother, Marky Mark. Meanwhile, the New Kids continued their seemingly endless touring until late 1992.

After a well deserved break, New Kids On The Block (now renamed NKOTB) returned in 1994 with Face The Music. A new song called “Keep On Smiling” was also featured on the soundtrack of Free Willy. That summer, NKOTB stunned their international fan base by disbanding. Since then, Jordan Knight and Joey McIntyre have gone on to successful solo careers, while Donnie Wahlberg has found success acting in films like Payback and The Sixth Sense. But wherever they end up in the future, Jon, Jordan, Joey, Donnie and Danny will always be remembered for inventing the idea of “the boy band” with New Kids On The Block.

Xena: Warrior Princess

Xena

Xena, that raven-haired, armor-wearing, ancient-times heroine, first appeared in an episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys called “The Warrior Princess,” as “gasp” a bad guy. Er, girl. To be more precise, Xena was an evil warlord bent on killing Hercules. Fortunately for Hercules, she had an epiphany and reformed her evil village-destroying ways. She went from pillaging the innocent to protecting them, which just goes to show you, sometimes you can’t judge a warlord by her blood-covered battle-axe.

Where Hercules, a half-god, had brute strength, Xena’s bag was tactical warfare with a penchant for acrobatics and martial arts. Her weapons of choice were her sword and her chakram, a menacing razor-sharp Frisbee-style object. She knew where to pinch and jab pressure points of opponents, she was good with a whip, and best of all, she had got a real taste for her work-she enjoyed the rough and tumble with the bad guys. What else could you want for your fantasy heroine?

But there was a whole lot more to Xena than just the sword and girl power brawn. She had a son whom she rarely saw and used to have one true love who ended up murdered, but on the upside, she opened herself up to companionship in the form of the trusty Gabrielle-a small village girl who gave up a career as a bard to travel the world with Xena. Fans speculated about the exact nature of their relationship, but whatever the case, the chatty and warm Gabrielle made for a good foil to the all-business Xena.

Xena

Xena was set in what the show called the “Golden Age” of myth, before ancient Greece or Rome, probably around 1300 B.C. Episodes found her dabbling in the Trojan War, witnessing the Israelites and the Philistines getting their war groove on, watching David fight Goliath, and she also ran into Julius Caesar and Hippocrates in her travels. She and Gabrielle even time traveled to the 1940’s, where they played archeologists who recovered the “Xena Scrolls,” an account of a notorious warrior princess’ adventures.

The series was filmed in New Zealand, where unknown actress Lucy Lawless was plucked for the Hercules guest spot, and later for the series. She was the perfect combination of athleticism and humanism, of mythic hero-type and real lady. And any lady who expertly wields a chakram is just automatically cool, and of course, gives a whole new angle to the game of Ultimate Frisbee.

Retro Comic Book Ads

 A short time ago, my good friend Hoju Koolander over at Retro-Daze brought forth for our enjoyment, an article in which he looked back fondly at some retro comic book ads found within the pages of some vintage comic books. I myself had been working on the same kind of article, and while great minds think alike, I’m glad to see that he and I do as well! I personally don’t think we could ever get enough of this type of article, and am thankful that he doesn’t have a problem with me putting together the exact same kind of article, albeit, with different ads. If you haven’t done so, I highly suggest you go and take a look at his article on this subject, 5 Retro Comic Book Ads.

Flipping through pages of retro comic book ads is kinda like opening a time capsule. They are usually full of pop culture icons, products that are fondly remembered, and some that jar no memory what so ever in our brains. Being a big fan of retro advertising in all forms, I am especially fond of slowly browsing the pages of comic books looking for those ads that make light bulbs goes off overhead. In this edition, I found a couple of those.

All of the ads in this article are from the comic book, X-Men 2099 #2, cover dated November 1993, from Marvel Comics. I picked this issue up from a quarter bin at a comic book convention recently, with the sole intention of using the ads within it for an article.

X-Men 2099
While I never read a single issue of X-Men 2099, I was a fringe fan of the 2099 concept from Marvel Comics. I really enjoyed the Doom 2099 series, and thought the Spider-Man 2099 series was pretty good as well. I was just never a big fan of the X-Men comic books in general. I thought the mid-90’s cartoon was good and really well done though.
Kids Choice Oatmeal

The first ad I came across, was inside the front cover and is for Quaker Instant Oatmeal Kid’s Choice. It looks like it’s a variety pack that features four different flavors, that would hopefully please even the pickiest of us kids / pre-teens / teens or whatever you were in 1993.

I’ve written of my love for a bygone instant oatmeal in the past, and while I have always been a big fan of Quaker Maple Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal, I don’t really remember this Kid’s Choice pack. It appears to be mostly just a variety pack that had been re-branded to appeal to a younger generation instead of the adults. A quick watch of a commercial for this oatmeal has enlightened me to the fact that at some point there was a “CinnaMagic’ flavor included that would change color instantly when water was added. I’m guessing that flavor came after the Cinnamon Graham Cookie that is featured on the box in this ad.

Above and beyond the cereal, check out the clothing on the models in this picture. You have the preppy kid up top in his khakis and sneakers, the cool street kid rocking the backwards hat, sweat shirt and sweat pants, and the best touch of all….the striped athletic socks with the sweat pants tucked into them! On the side it appears we have another Zack Morris wannabe, and with a ‘Daddy’s little angel’ on the floor next to him. And the best is on the other side of the box. Corporate America’s vision of what a 13 year old hippy chick would dress like.

 

Continue reading “Retro Comic Book Ads”

Dick Tracy Was a Colorful Homage

Dick Tracy

Dick Tracy was Warren Beatty’s ode to Chester Gould’s comic strip, a sharp, colorful world populated with handsome good guys, strange-looking bad guys, vampish vixens and damsels in distress. The film seemed like it had been actually set in a comic strip, thanks to the bright, bold set design, along with costumes and makeup faithfully translated from the printed page.

Warren Beatty stars as Dick Tracy, the square-jawed, yellow-suited lawman who fights and disposes of his city’s villains with ease. The mobsters, tired of always being sent to the big house by Tracy, decide to band together and rid themselves of him once and for all. But Dick Tracy has other problems at the moment. He has recently met an orphan named The Kid that he grudgingly cares for, but is not sure he can be the father The Kid needs. Also, his relationship with his girlfriend, Tess Trueheart, is strained because he devotes more of his time to crime fighting than he does to her.

And then there’s Breathless. Pop superstar Madonna plays the seductive Breathless Mahoney, a beautiful and blond nightclub singer reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe. She has her eye on Tracy, and despite his better judgment, he finds himself increasingly drawn to her. Tracy must find a way to fight the corruption overtaking the city and come to terms with his complicated personal life.

Dick Tracy

Dick Tracy featured an impressive array of cameos, including Al Pacino as Big Boy Caprice and Dustin Hoffman as the mumbling Mumbles. Beatty infused Tracy with a surprising quality of vulnerability-shown through his relationship with The Kid and Tess’-that is not often explored in one-dimensional comic strip heroes. In fact, beyond the car chases, explosions and gunfights that made Dick Tracy a kid’s paradise, the film also had heart.

Dick Tracy received seven Academy Award nominations, including a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Al Pacino. It won three awards, for Best Art Direction, Best Makeup and Best Song for Steven Sondheim’s jazz-tinged “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man).

Hypercolor: The Clothing That Made People Want to Touch You

Hypercolor

We have seen the future, and it changes color with heat.

Really, you practically couldn’t afford not to buy a HyperColor shirt. I mean, it changed color, right? That was like getting two shirts for the price of one. So that price tag you saw? Remember, that was 50% off what it should have cost you. You should probably buy two then, since you’re such a great bargain shopper.

What wasn’t to love about HyperColor shirts? Well, a few things, but we’ll get to those later. For now, let’s talk about how rad they were. Introduced by Generra at the tail end of those color-crazy 80’s, HyperColor promised a t-shirt revolution. A patented “Metamorphic Color System” caused the shirt’s color to change when it came in contact with heat. Press a warm hand onto your belly, and your purple shirt would have a temporary pink handprint. How cool was that?

Body heat, hot breath, blow dryers’ any heat source was enough to change green to yellow, blue to green, and so on. It was like a Mood Ring for the body, and matched up with acid wash jeans or Body Glove bike shorts, it made you the most outrageously outfitted fashion plate in your school.

Unfortunately (and here’s the “what’s not to love” part), there were some drawbacks. Like the fact that wearing a HyperColor shirt seemed to give everybody the right to put their sweaty palms all over you or breathe on you. Or the way your shirt reacted to all heat, including the kind produced by your armpits (no volunteering to answer questions in class on HyperColor t-shirt day). Suddenly, the idea of a heat-sensitive shirt just wasn’t all you had dreamed it would be.

The HyperColor craze faded like a bad tie-dye by the early 90’s, and Generra had to lay off one-fourth of its staff by the spring of ‘92. Apparently, the world just wasn’t ready for odd-colored sweat spots and rampant personal space invasion, even for the sake of a chameleon fashion statement.

Why Wendy’s Ain’t Like it Used to Be

After I sat down and put together the post, Back When Pizza Hut Was an Experience, that got me to thinking about several other food establishments that just aren’t what they used to be.  The happy, friendly, and tasty places I remember from when I was a kid growing up in the 80’s and early 90’s no longer exist in the form that we loved back then.

In this post, there is another old favorite of mine in a cross-examination of just where they’ve went wrong through the years, and that old favorite is Wendy’s.

As I’ve mentioned many times before, when my old man would come home each from weekend from working out-of-town, he would always take the family out to eat on Friday or Saturday night.  Places like Western Steer and Bonanza were frequent favorites, Pizza Hut was a rarity, and when we weren’t going to one of those places, the destination was Wendy’s.  So it’s fair to say that I visited Wendy’s a lot in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and feel like I have a pretty good grasp on what set it apart from its competition back then, and what made it stand out.

So let’s get to it, and take a look at how much Wendy’s has changed since those days, and not really for the better.

Their Commercials Are Not Near As Good As They Used to Be

Wendy's

So first up, let’s take a look at what brings an establishment to people’s attention, and makes them want to visit in the first place, the television commercials advertising the place or products.  For years, Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas was a fixture in commercials for the chain.  He looked like he could be your own grandpa, and put forth a welcoming personality that seemed to not feel like an over-produced commercial, but rather an invitation to dinner from an old friend.

These days, we get this young yuppie girl they call “Red”, where the commercials focus more on trying to be funny (and failing), or hip, and don’t do much to get a vibe across to the viewer as to the core values of the restaurant.  Heck, they barely focus on the food they are promoting.  With the Dave Thomas commercials, you got a little humor, but he almost always put forth his philosophy of making good, old-fashioned hamburgers.  Check out the two examples below, and see the difference in the way they go about their advertising these days:

Man, there’s something about an old Wendy’s commercial with Dave Thomas that really takes me back.

 

The Logo and Signs Have Changed

One change you may not have noticed, is that they have dropped their old slogan of “Old-Fashioned Hamburgers” from their advertising.  It’s gone from their logo now, and more and more of their location’s signs are being changed to the newer logo.  This is a small change, but it’s symbolic in that they are trying to get away from their past, and what made them unique in the first place.  The fresh hamburgers.  They still make them like this, so why not use that fact in advertising?!?

Wendy's Sign

 

Their Tables Inside Their Restaurants Are Boring

One of the coolest features in the old school Wendy’s locations were the tables that featured printed pages from old Sear’s catalogs from the early 1900’s.  Sitting there as a kid, I would marvel at the antique products featured on the table while I chowed down on my burger and fries.  Today, they’ve joined the rest of the fast food fools by using plain-looking, boring tables.  Compare the two below.  Which one enhances the dining experience a little?  If you said the plain one, you can just stop reading this article now.

Wendy's Tables

 

Their New Menu Offerings Have Gone To Hipster

Wendy's Hamburgers

Back in the day, Wendy’s was the home of great tasting, old-fashioned, fresh hamburgers and chicken sandwiches.  When they added a new menu item, it was usually a larger version of an existing item, or small tweaks that were usually only available for a limited time.  You could always count on the Classic Single, the Classic Double, and the Classic Triple.  Want bacon on one of those?  Sure, why not.  I would like to believe that if you asked Dave Thomas for some avocado on your burger, he would look at you like you are a moron.  Avocado don’t belong on an old-fashioned hamburger.  Sautéed onions?  Absolutely.

Today, they are always trying to hit that magic ingredient that will maybe spark a sale, when all they really need to focus on is quality burgers with quality burger condiments. A flatbread instead of a bun?  Get out of here with that noise!

 

They Done Away With the Biggie Size

Wendy's Biggie Size

Now I’m all for health conscious eating, but if you’re going to Wendy’s, you know what you’re in for.  So why take away the iconic “Biggie” size?  Those who don’t want it, don’t have to order it.  But for those of us who do, it’s no longer available.  Their Biggie Sweet Tea was awesome, and being able to upgrade your large fries to Biggie size should be protected under the “Freedom of Choice” provision in the United States Constitution.

 

Their Kid’s Meals Are No Longer Fun For Kids

A lot of the major fast food chains are suffering from this one these days.  Due to pressure from multiple organizations, the chains have relented and started changing their kid’s meals to feature healthier options.  Wendy’s now feature a burger or nuggets, with apple slices, and a box of juice.  Now, you can still get the fries and a soda, but their advertising features the former options.  They don’t even like to really advertise special tie-ins with their kid’s meals any more.  It’s extremely rare to see a cool box for the kids meal’s like they used to.

Look at that awesome old school kid’s meal below!  A fresh Junior burger, golden fries, and a Frosty….all packaged in a cool Disney’s Gummi Bears box for maximum fun!

Wendy's Kids Meal

 

They Changed Their French Fries

This one sadness as much as any other on the list.  I was a huge fan of their french fries for years.  They were thicker than the fries at McDonald’s or Burger King, a little less crispy, but so good.  They tasted like french fries we used to make at home.  Being that they tasted home-made, they fit perfectly alongside their old-fashioned hamburgers.

Wendy's French Fries

Now days, they have the Natural-Cut Fries with Sea Salt.  They made the change around the time that sea salt was all the rage, and have yet to revert back.  Their fries of today always taste a little burnt to me.  They are thinner, the ends are crisper, and they aren’t a great tasting french fry.  Add to that the fact that they don’t taste nearly as good dipped in a Frosty as their elder counterparts.

French Fries in Frosty

Man, that used to be the absolute best part about going to Wendy’s….dipping your french fries into your Frosty.

 

There Should Only Be One Flavor of Frosty

For many, many years, ordering a Frosty at Wendy’s meant you were getting a rich, chocolatey, ice cream treat.  A while back, I ordered a Frosty, and the young lady at the counter asked me what flavor I wanted.  I gave her what I’m sure she though was a dumb look, and said, “I just want a Frosty.”  She again asked me the flavor, and had to explain to me that they are available in Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry.  I politely corrected her saying, “No Ma’am, there’s only ONE flavor of Frosty, and that’s chocolate.  I’m not sure what those other two things are, but if they aren’t chocolate, then they aren’t Frosties.”

Wendy's Frosty

Why mess with such an iconic menu item?  As a kid, you hoped you went to Wendy’s because you could get a Frosty.  You didn’t need multiple flavors, all you needed was a Frosty.  This is just another example of how they continue to mess with their classic menu that made them successful, profitable, and famous.

 

They Changed the Taco Salad

On those weekends when my Dad wasn’t able to come home, my Mom and I would go out on Saturday afternoon and eat at either McDonald’s or Wendy’s.  When it was Wendy’s, that meant it was Taco Salad for lunch.  It’s what she like, so it’s what I got as well so we could enjoy the same thing.

Wendy's Taco Salad

The Taco Salad was unique, but quite simple.  You got a platter of lettuce with some diced tomatoes, a cup of their chili to pour over that, some shredded cheddar cheese and some taco sauce for topping, and a small bag of taco chips to enjoy with it.  We would mix them up and talk as we ate, and I have a lot of fond memories attached to the classic Taco Salad.

So about 10 years ago, they decided to change it.  No longer were there taco chips…they were replaced with tortilla strips.  The pack of taco sauce was replaced with salsa.  The diced tomatoes went away.  Their sales of the Taco Salad also went away.  Once again, they tried to “modernize” one of their menu offerings and appeal to a small segment of the market with what they considered a “fancier” version.  There was never anything wrong with the original version, but they gave it the ax anyway.

 

They Got Rid of the SuperBar

Wendy's Superbar

Of all the things Wendy’s tried through the years, the Superbar may have been the best idea they had.  It was a set of three food bars that expanded their dine-in options several times over, and was a big hit.  One bar was a salad bar, with normal salad bar options, as well as some jello and pudding for dessert.  The next bar was the Mexican Fiesta bar, which had all the things you needed to make tacos and burritos.  There was chili, taco meat, melted nacho cheese, hard and soft taco shells, and other goodies.

The last bar was the Pasta Bar, and featured spaghetti noodles, fettucine noodles, spaghetti sauce, alfredo sauce, and garlic bread that was made by flattening and grilling their hamburger buns with garlic salt and butter.  It was delicious.  You could also order a baked potato, and top it from the SuperBar.  That’s what my old man did, so it’s what I done as well.  We’d fill the potato with the chili and nacho cheese.

The SuperBar was our go-to order while they had it in their stores.  A lot of Friday night’s were spent eating from it and talking and laughing as a family before Mom would do her shopping for the week.  To me, the Superbar is one of the most iconic things that comes to mind when I think of Wendy’s, and it’s a shame they ever got rid of it.


Well, there you have it.  Why Wendy’s Just Isn’t the Same Anymore….at least in my opinion.  I have a lot of nostalgic memories tied to Wendy’s, so maybe I have stronger feelings on the subject than others, but I’d love to hear your thoughts and memories as well.

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