Weekend Reading 07/30/23

Every weekend, I like to share a curated list of retro, geek, & nostalgia-themed articles, stories, and posts that I’ve come across in the last week. It gives you a chance to escape the daily grind, and just sit back and pass the time reading about the good old days. So with that in mind, here are some things I wanted to share with you.

In the News

  • Sinead O’Connor has passed away. She was 56. The Dublin singer is probably most infamously remembered for ripping up a picture of the Pope during a live performance on Saturday Night Live, but she also produced the number one world single in 1990 Nothing Compares 2 U.
  • RetroCon has gotten a lot more exciting for me with the news of a Dukes of Hazzard reunion taking place there this year. John Schneider, Tim Wopat, and Catherin Bach are confirmed for appearing at the two-day convention which emanates from the Greater Oaks Convention Center in Philadelphia PA September 9th and 10th. For the lowdown on all of the guests, events, and other details check out Retrocons.
  • Tubi has announced its full August release schedule, and there are several old classics coming that are worth revisiting. My personal recommendations to revisit include Dante’s Peak, The Great Escape, the Jaws franchise of movies, Stand by Me, and Fletch. They have also picked up the rights to the modern entry to the Fletch franchise with Fletch Lives. That one should be worth checking out as well. TubiTV is a free streaming service that everyone can enjoy.
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Hardee’s Fried Chicken of the 90s

Hardees Fried Chicken

Like most other American households in the 1980s, when my family wanted fried chicken, we got it from Kentucky Fried Chicken. Not KFC, but Kentucky Fried Chicken. We weren’t all metro back in those days using just the initials to identify the fast food chain. Other than the price, not much has changed from then to now. You can still get an 8-piece bucket of chicken, along with two family sides, and four biscuits. It’s an American staple at this point.

But then in the early ’90s comes Hardees with their fried chicken offerings. The chain had purchased the Roy Rogers chain and started using their recipe to sell fried chicken in a good deal of their locations. Not having a Roy Rogers anywhere close to here, we were totally unfamiliar with their brand of chicken.

Coupon for Hardee’s Fried Chicken Family Meal, Johnson City Press 1995

My family was a little skeptical in the beginning for a couple of reasons. One was the fact that here is this burger chain selling fried chicken all of a sudden. It was as foreign of a concept as Kentucky Fried Chicken starting to sell Big Macs would have been. And two, how is anyone going to compete with the Colonel’s secret blend of herbs and spices? Well, the answer to that part is they couldn’t, but Hardee’s could certainly compete with the Colonel’s extra crispy recipe. The chicken at Hardee’s was of the extra crispy variety, which I loved, but the bigger draw was the biscuits.

The biscuits at Hardee’s have always been at the top of the fast food biscuit world, and because they were now selling fried chicken, you could get their signature biscuits at any time during the day. It was almost like a little slice of heaven had fallen to earth. But the chicken and biscuits combo proved to be a good one, and for a while there, my family switched to Hardees when the craving for fried chicken hit, and we didn’t really go away from it until Hardee’s pulled it from their menus around these parts. But I still think back on it and remember fondly all of the weekends at the lake, busy evenings after school, and Sunday afternoons eating Hardee’s fried chicken and biscuits while watching my NASCAR with my old man.

GI Joe Killer WHALE Hovercraft

Throughout my memories of the mid-’80s, two action figure lines dominated my playtime. Masters of the Universe and G.I. Joe. The cartoon series and the Real American Hero toy line were a powerful combination. I lived and breathed G.I. Joe pretty hard back then. I mean, I still do today, but not nearly like I did back then. The toy line was full of awesome toys, and I still miss one in particular that I never had the pleasure of owning…the Killer WHALE Hovercraft

Like most things I salivate over in old toy commercials, I never owned the WHALE, nor did I ever get a chance to play with it. So watching the kids in this commercial put it through its paces makes me excited even today. The fact that it actually floats on water is a big drawing point, and watching the depth charges roll off into the water almost sent me over the edge. It was a stellar toy in a line full of them, and yet it still stands apart from the rest because of all its cool features.

I mean, it seems like the ultimate assault weapon during playtime. The twin guns, the depth charge feature, and the belly of the thing holds even more Joe figures. And check out the commercial for it below…what about that environment they are playing with it in? I wish I had had a place like that to take my Joes back then and fight out the battles between G.I. Joe and Cobra.

Nintendo Cereal

In 1988, I was all about Nintendo. It had probably taken over as my favorite toy by that point if you want to consider it a toy. And I was already self-aware of my finer tastes in junk food. So Nintendo cereal coming along was right up my alley. It was made by Ralston, who was the king of producing commercially-licensed cereals in the ’80s and ’90s.

This short-lived cereal featured a split package designed and contained both Super Mario Bros. cereal and Zelda Adventure cereal. The Mario cereal was “fruity” flavored and was made up of super mushrooms, Goombas, Koopa Troopas, and Bowser-shaped pieces. The Zelda side consisted of berry-flavored Links, hearts, keys, boomerangs, and shields.

Given how I love gimmicky junk food, the fact that this mimicked Nerds cereal by featuring two different flavors packaged separately in the same box made it a sure bet that a box of this would end up coming home from the grocery store with us. And since she knew how big of a Nintendo fan I was, my mom didn’t put up a fight when I asked to try it.

I can’t recall the taste or if I was a fan or not, but the fact that it had no marshmallows was not a good start for a kid’s cereal if you want to make it long-term. It hit the market in 1988 and was gone in 1989. While it may not have stuck around long, it made a lasting impression on a lot of people, myself included.

WWF Thumb Wrestlers

WWF Thumb Wrestlers

The WWF Thumb Wrestlers were my consolation for not having the LJN figures.  Now I really didn’t mind not having the full-sized LJN figures as they weren’t very fun to play with due to their inflexibility. The only reason I wanted the full-sized LJN counterparts was because everyone was getting them.

The Thumb Wrestlers were cheaper, so I was actually able to pick up several packs of these with my weekly allowance, and that gave me enough variety to really enjoy having these.  I had Hulk Hogan, JYD, Hillbilly Jim, Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, and Big John Studd.  As I said, enough variety to play around with and have some matches. 

The WWF machine was clicking on all cylinders and they really knew what they were doing with these thumb wrestlers. I mentioned how they came packed two per package…well, they mixed them up and the same figure would appear in multiple packs. This meant that you could theoretically find any matchup of the figures you wanted. To the best of my research abilities, here are the two-pack combinations that were available:

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