There’s no doubt that candy from the ‘80s just hit different.
Could it be that it was due to way lower health standards? Maybe… OK, probably, but what the hell did kids care about health? That’s the time when you’re supposed to go nuts and eat a gooey mash of chemicals, dyes, and sugar. That’s what we did, and we turned out alright.
It’s a sad sight strolling through candy aisles today, with hardly anything but the old guard of candy bars still limping on. You’re lucky to even find a box of Mike and Ikes or Goobers anymore! But hope isn’t lost. There are still a handful of candies that used to be everywhere in the ‘80s still out there waiting to be found.
Some were around long before the ‘80s, but that decade was their heyday, and for whatever reason, they seemed to fall off the face of the Earth from there. We can’t say they’ll taste as good, but at least they still exist.
Big League Chew
We wish we could put candy cigarettes on this list, but sadly those indeed have been killed and replaced with a far tamer version. However, we still have the not-so-subtle tobacco gum in Big League Chew. Something about pinching out those strands of gum yourself makes it all the sweeter … which probably comes down to us shoving four times as much gum into our mouths as a normal stick.
Caramels were a dime a dozen back in the day, but if you were lucky enough to give Cow Tales a try, they wouldn’t just be a candy for grandma anymore. The trick is the cream center that balanced the caramel and justified the whole cow bit. Don’t ask us why they stuck “tales” on the end, though.
Chupa Chups Lollipops
Nothing says “America” like flavoring one dessert after another. In this case, you’re getting ice cream flavored lollipops that just make way too much sense to not be a bigger thing. You get all the flavor of ice cream without having to worry about it melting! The only shame is they only come in chocolate and vanilla or strawberry and vanilla.
Cry Baby Tears
What’s more ‘80s than a candy that made fun of you for not being tough enough to handle how sour it was? Cry Baby Tears really are that sour, and boy did they know it. Each candy was tear shaped and said “cry baby” right on it. Hand one of these to a kid today and watch them suffer!
In hindsight, these lollipops really only survived because of how delicious the pop was and not for the “convenience” of the design. The whole idea was that you pushed the candy up, licked it, and then could cap it to save for later. Fine in theory, but who the hell doesn’t finish a lollipop in one go? No way, man, once you unwrap a lollipop you’re committed.
Hot take, but the banana Runts are king. Fight me. Green apple is cool too. I remembered being so stoked when I got my first job at a movie theater thinking I might get some free candy as a perk only to realize Runts were nowhere to be seen. Still, they survive, and I’m telling you it’s all because of that banana.
Pop Rocks were a revolution. A candy that felt like lightning on your tongue? Sign me the hell up! Plus, everyone heard about that “friend of a friend” who ate Pop Rocks while drinking soda and their stomach exploded, lending an extra air of excitement to the treat. What other candy was so popular that it spawned one of the most infamous rumors of the ‘80s that spread across the entire country?
I’ll admit I never ate these things. Can you blame me? For one, it says they’re made of wax, and two, it felt way too weird to eat something shaped like lips as a kid. It’s still weird today, but for different reasons. They have rebranded to Wack-O-Wax but still keep the same oddly uncomfortable lip shape.
This gum will outlast all other candies. The Bazooka empire was way ahead of its time by making a gum whose flavor lasts as long as the average kid’s attention span, which is to say about 15 seconds. Just long enough to read a four-panel comic, spit your gum in the wrapper, and move on.
This is another ancient one, but only sold on the west side of the country. Or rather they were, since now you can just order them online wherever. But if you’ve never heard of Abba-Zaba, it’s a taffy with a chocolate and peanut butter center. It sounds a little weird, but how could it be bad with those two flavors holding it all together?