Suddenly S’Mores

Suddenly S'mores

Nabisco unleashed Suddenly S’Mores on the world in 1990, and I was in on them early on. I had seen the commercial numerous times and was on the lookout for them at the grocery store every time we went. Growing up in our rural area, we were always behind other parts of the country when it came to the timeliness of receiving new junk food on the shelves.

So after a while, we finally got them in our area, and I was elated. I remember when we first opened them. They were such a novelty at the time, that the whole family wanted to try them, so there we were, all four of us gathered around the microwave to watch the magic. That’s because the gimmick of Suddenly S’Mores was that it was an uncooked s’more basically. There were the two “graham crackers”…really just two graham-flavored cookies, chocolate on each one of them, and some kind of dehydrated marshmallow sandwiched in the middle. You had to microwave them and then you’d have fresh, warm, gooey s’mores.

Back then, microwave doors were a little harder to see through than they are now, and my mom was a big proponent of how a microwave would destroy your eyes if you looked into it while it was cooking, so she was trying her best to keep my dad, my brother, and me away from the door. All of this took place in like 15 seconds because that’s about all the time they needed to do their thing.

Clipping courtesy of the Sun Herald June 06, 1990

When the first one was ready, I got the honor of trying it. At the same time, my brother was putting one in to try. That first package we had didn’t make it through the first night. We liked them so much, we ate the whole thing!

Of course, Mom was much more willing to part with the money they cost on the next visit since Dad asked her to get more. Our enthusiasm waned a little and the second pack lasted two nights. Things went on like this a couple of more times before the novelty really wore off for everyone in the family but me. I loved those things and was enjoying them on a regular basis.

Then one afternoon I was too lazy to microwave them and just opened a pack and ate one. I found that they were just as delicious as the microwaved version but in a different way. It’s hard to explain, but I really liked them straight from the package. I started taking them to school in my lunch as my dessert and soon found another redeeming quality about them…they were incredible trade bait at lunchtime. Since they came two in a pack (I think), I was able to enjoy one and trade the other for things like a pack of Shark Bite fruit snacks, half of a fruit roll-up, or any number of other tasty treats.

It’s hard to dig up much information about how long these lasted on the market, but I don’t think they made it past 1990. It was a heartbreaker when I finally accepted the truth that they were gone and wouldn’t be coming back. It’s still one of the junk foods I miss the most all these years later.

Hot Wheels Sto and Go Playsets

Oh man, what a rush of nostalgia this past weekend. I’m sitting on the couch watching college football, and at the same time, checking out the TRN Slack Channel. It’s where everyone at The Retro Network congregates online and share all kinds of retro stuff and family life with each other.

So anyway, I’m checking it out and come across a picture that Jason had posted of his latest thrift store find. It was the Hot Wheels Sto and Go “City” playset. This particular playset holds a special place in my nostalgic heart for reasons I’ll explain in just a bit, but first, let me explain what a Sto and Go playset was for those who may not know.

In the early 1980s Hot Wheels started releasing their Sto and Go playsets. It was a playset that doubled as its own carry case. You could carry it around and when you wanted to play, you just popped it open, pulled out some cars, and away you went on whatever adventure your mind could come up with. All of the Sto and Go playsets had a theme.

The first one released was the Service Center. My brother owned this one and being in the same house, of course, I got to play with it. It was more fun than just imagining that you were taking your cars to the gas station or to get them washed, but in comparison to the other sets they would release, I found it a little lacking in the fun department.

The only one I personally owned was the Construction Site playset. It was great fun when you owned numerous construction vehicles as I did. That crane you see in the picture was the most fun part of it. I used that crane to lift so much stuff to the top of the playset, that I almost broke it on numerous occasions. When the weather was bad, and I couldn’t take my construction cars outside, I could always bust this out and let the good times continue.

The City Sto and Go playset was the one I really adored. Neither me nor my brother owned it, but it was one of the “community” toys that were at my grandparent’s house. The buildings that this playset had look a whole lot like the buildings on main street in Hazard County from the Dukes of Hazzard TV show. My cousins and I all had the ERTL Dukes of Hazzard cars, and I was always sure to take mine along for a visit to the grandparents. We’d take this playset outside with our Dukes cars. Being how most of Hazzard County seemed to have dirt roads, we’d set the city playset up in the middle of the action, and then incorporate all the dirt and grass around it as the rest of Hazzard County. The garage that says “Fire Station” above it became Cooter’s garage, and the Police Station was still the Police station where Roscoe’s car stayed when he wasn’t chasing the Duke boys. We had so much fun out of this playset, that one of my cousins and I still talk about it to this day.

Hot Wheels put out several more Sto and Go sets through the years, but these were the only three I ever had the joy of playing with. There was another one of them that really caught my attention, and to this day, I still hate that I never got to play with it. It was the Sto and Go Freight Yard. I’ll leave you with a picture of it, but I’ll save my thoughts on it until the next “Toys I Never Had” post.

Saturday Nights Main Event

There’s never been anything quite like Saturday Night’s Main Event for great Saturday night entertainment. I became aware of it after it had already begun its run, and didn’t even get to get my first live glimpse of one.

My first was on Saturday night May 1, 1986. I didn’t have a TV in my room, so I slept in my dad’s spot in his bed since he was out of town. He had a little black and white TV on the nightstand beside the bed. I tried hard to stay awake to watch it, but I didn’t make it. I had fallen asleep before it started. It was probably the news that did me in.

But I woke up just in time to see what was supposed to be the start of a Ricky Steamboat vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts match. Ricky Steamboat was my favorite wrestler at the time, and I was always excited whenever I got a chance to see him on TV. Unfortunately for 8-year-old me, the match didn’t really happen, because Jake attacked before the match and nailed Steamboat with the DDT on the concrete floor. I was super pissed! While I hated that I didn’t get to see an actual match, the angle did lead to some good ones down the line.

The next big event I can really recall from SNME was the Hulk Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff cage match from January 1987. I wrote about it in depth over at TRN last year, so I’m not going to go into much detail here. But I did want to share that I knew that match was happening that night, but my excitement level got turned up to 11 while watching The Golden Girls, as one of the commercials was a short promo from Hogan with the cage in the foreground. That was awesome.

And then in March 1987, the episode that featured a battle royal as a way to hype the upcoming Wrestlemania 3. Hogan and Andre went at it in that battle royal, and the whole thing was awesome.

There were numerous other memorable moments to be enjoyed through the years on Saturday Night’s Main Event, and every now and then on Saturday nights, I get really nostalgic for it. TOnight is one of those nights.

Mortal Monday (1993)

So I missed this anniversary by a day, but way back on September 13, 1993, the home video game version of Mortal Kombat hit stores in an event dubbed Mortal Monday. The Mortal Kombat arcade game was an instant hit when it landed in arcades around the country, so turning it into a game for home consoles was a no-brainer.

I probably played the arcade version just a couple of times when it got big, but being as how there weren’t any arcades close to where I lived made playing it more than that a virtual impossibility. But I was still excited for the game coming to home consoles nonetheless.

I was a Street Fighter II fan and played it at home all the time, so another fighting game seemed cool. Now I wasn’t one of the fanboys who were all excited about the fatalities and such, I just enjoyed fighting games. Mortal Kombat had an interesting story attached to the game so that was a plus as well. But my friend Geoffrey couldn’t shut up about it’s pending release. Between his excitement, the plethora of commercials advertising it, and the many ads for it in comic books and magazines were enough to make my head spin. When Mortal Monday finally arrived, I was kind of relieved because I wouldn’t be inundated with the hype anymore. Or so I thought.

What overtook that was Geoffrey’s non-stop babbling about how awesome the game was. He was one of those Sega Genesis kids, so his version had the fatalities intact. The SNES version did not. I still sometimes wonder what kind of deal Sega made to have that kind of exclusivity. But I did my duty as a best friend and went over to his house to play it, and enjoyed it, but not like he did. He just could not shut up about that game for weeks. But me, I went home and played Street Fighter II. That was my game.

But looking back on it all now, it was quite the promotion for a video game, and it even had a cool tag line in “Mortal Monday”. They drilled that into people’s heads. I guess it worked since the franchise went on to spawn numerous sequel games and movies.

Happy belated anniversary to Mortal Kombat and it’s Mortal Monday promotion.

If you’d like to read more about Geoffrey and video games, check out the entry for the Game Genie in an old comic book ads post I did, Even More Old Comic Book Ads. And if you remember the hype, share your memories in the comments!

Hardee’s New York Patty Melt Burger of 1993

Back in 1992, Hardee’s stumbled across a major hit when it introduced its now-iconic Frisco Burger.  They combined grilled sourdough bread (in a round slice) with a 1/4 lb burger patty, two slices of Swiss cheese, bacon, mayo, and tomatoes and turned them into a culinary masterpiece.  After strong sales upon release, they were looking to duplicate that success. Enter the New York Patty Melt. 

Introduced roughly 4 months after the launch of the Frisco burger, the New York Patty Melt was the heir apparent to their first hit.  Unfortunately, it was not to be. Sales of the Patty Melt didn’t come close to those of the Frisco burger, and it was dropped from the menu about 6 months after its introduction.  But man, that was a great six months. 

The New York Patty Melt borrowed from its famous Frisco cousin and used a regional favorite bread by using New York Rye.  Sliced the same way as the Frisco (round), it too was grilled and paired with a 1/4 lb beef patty. A layer of a melted cheese blend, crispy bacon, and soft grilled onions finished off this burger.  Like most kids, I wasn’t a big fan of onions, but on this burger, they fit right in. But for me, the real star of this taste sensation was the rye bread. I had never had it before, but this burger moved the bread up my list of favorites in a hurry. 

As is the case when doing a piece like this, I was quite disappointed when I went to order it one time only to be told that it was no longer available.  If my father hadn’t been standing there beside me, my fifteen-year-old self may have let out a string of curse words aimed in the cashier’s direction. Luckily, however, the Frisco Burger was still available, and it ranked pretty high on my list back then too.  But for me, the Frisco Burger was always the Sundance Kid to the New York Patty Melt’s Butch Cassidy.