What to Drink, Based on Your Favorite ‘90s Candy
You won’t see us crying over lost loves or layoffs, but you will see us pining for the candy brands of our youths. We no longer chomp down on these nostalgic sugary treats, either because it’s not socially acceptable to eat sour straws and gummies every day when you’re an adult, or because the malicious candy barons full-on discontinued our favorites. To relive the best times of our childhood and those moments fueled by boatloads of sugar and artificial dyes, here is the cocktail equivalent of every classic ‘90s candy.
The Airheads “out of control” commercials for the stretchable, moldable candy made you believe that your chosen method of consumption—stretching the Airhead thin, rolling it into a ball, shaping it into a boomerang, twisting it into a spiral—would rock your physical world as well as your sugar-addled brain. There are as many ways to drink a Martini as there are ways to eat an Airhead, though unfortunately none of them will create a candy tornado.
Ring Pop: Champagne Cocktail
Ring Pops were the flashiest bling on the blacktop. True playground fashionistas would load up their hands with multiple pieces of this candy jewelry at once to feel extra fancy. The classic Champagne Cocktail makes us feel classy in pretty much the exact same way. It even has a sugar cube resting at the bottom of the glass for that good ol’ sugar rush.
Shark Bites: Bad Hombre
The great white shark is king of the sea, and the great white Shark Bite was definitely king of the lunchroom candy swap. This cocktail, served in a shark-shaped cup, similarly garners all the attention in the bar. Greek yogurt syrup adds a creamy texture reminiscent of the seafaring gummies, while tequila, crème de cassis and orange liqueur add fruity flavor, like gobbling down the entire packet of sharks at once.
Dunkaroos: Dunkaroos Shake
As one of the essential food groups when we were little, Dunkaroos were a daily necessity. The dreamy icing predated the internet’s obsession with unicorn everything and was the purest realization of straight sugary bliss. This boozy milkshake—made with rum, vanilla ice cream, heavy cream, a hint of orange blossom water, and enough sprinkles to send you into a funfetti frenzy—is thick enough to dip a Dunkaroo cookie into.
Scooby Doo Fruit Snacks: Creepy Crawly Worm Jello Shots
Zoinks, Scoob, look out for those creepy crawly worms! Don’t worry about these ghastly gummies; they’re actually no scarier than any of the gh-gh-gh-gh-ghosts on Scooby Doo. It’s a proven fact that any food is more enjoyable when it’s shaped like a recognizable figure, whether it’s a fruity gummy shaped like your favorite mystery team member or a Rum & Coke Jello Shot shaped like a ghoulish worm.
Butterfinger BB’s: B-52
Whopper-like BB’s are a clear sign that anything is better in projectile pellet form. This candy shrunk the classic Butterfinger flavor into a food fight-ready package, and it garnered a legion of fans who now pine for this discontinued candy (there’s even a Change.org petition to force Nestlé to bring BB’s back). The B52 shot provides a similar sweet hit in a condensed package, though it’s better for bombing yourself than strafing a friend.
Warheads: Whiskey Sour
We originally developed our super sour proclivities by sucking on tart Warheads, and those preferences later led us to the Sour family of cocktails. A Whiskey Sour is noticeably more balanced than a Blue Raspberry Warhead, and the pH level in the cocktail won’t rot your teeth.
Crispy M&M's: Last Word
While nostalgic candy lovers have tried to revive many lost treats, such petitions rarely succeed—which is why the recent return of Crispy M&M’s is such a heartwarming story. The clearly superior M&M's flavor was originally intended as a limited release in the late ‘90s, but Mars revived the malt-spiked chocolate wonders. The Prohibition-era Last Word was similarly lost to the sands of time until Seattle bartender Murray Stenson revived it in 2004. The cocktail is as elegant, balanced and satisfying as our favorite M&M's flavor.
Gushers: Strawberry Gushers Sour
This strawberry cocktail bursts from the glass with bright fruity flavor (thanks to a citrusy strawberry oleo saccharum), just like the super juicy gummies. It’s tinged with Aperol and spiked with vodka for a lightly tart cocktail that feels like a Gusher all grown up. In case your head inflating into a giant strawberry [remember those kooky commercials?] wasn’t enough of a clue to this cocktail’s candy inspiration, the drink is skewered with actual strawberry Gushers.
Fruit by the Foot: Bahama Mama
General Mills’ “3 feet of fun” was enough candy to last all afternoon if you were economical about it—though we were more likely to scarf down the entire roll in a few gloriously fruity seconds. The oversized Bahama Mama is the tiki equivalent, made with enough rum and fruit juice to last a whole evening, or just enough to slurp down in one boozy rush.
Sour Punch Straws: Unicorn Spritz
The Unicorn Spritz may look like a grape Sour Punch Straw, but lemon juice is actually what provides the tart punch in this elongated Gin Sour. The cocktail is infused with zippy fizz from soda, and the rim pops with more colorful sugar than a whole pack of sour straws.
Wonder Ball: Supercall’s Chocolate Martini
When you hear the name “Chocolate Martini,” you may conjure an image of a tongue-coating sweet monstrosity. Like the Choco-tini, Wonderball was both created and ruined in the ‘90s. But our take on the cocktail is a pleasant chocolatey surprise akin to breaking into a Wonder Ball to discover a special prize.
Pop Rocks: Pop Rocks Rocktail
The bright blue color of this Highball makes it look like it’ll blow any second. Made with simple syrup infused with Tropical Punch Pop Rocks, the cocktail uses tequila, tart pineapple and Prosecco to create its own boozy fizz. A rim of Pop Rocks pops on your tongue as you sip, making for a doubly explosive drink.
While Jawbreakers of some sort have been around since the ‘70s, Ed, Edd and Eddy caused a major demand spike in the ‘90s—the three scheming protagonists essentially idolise the rock-hard candy in every episode. The Negroni earns the same affection from bitter lovers all over the drinking world, but it can also be a hard nut to crack for newcomers who have yet to develop a taste for Campari. We haven’t broken our jaws on this bright red cocktail, but we have blown out our taste buds with too much of the Italian bitter liqueur on occasion.
Rice Krispie Treats: Sagada Ube Shake
Kellogg's eventually picked up on the obsession with homemade Rice Krispie Treats and captured the cereal-turned-candy in prepackaged flavors like Chocolatey Drizzle and M&M’s. If the brand is interested in expanding their range, we suggest they consider ube, the bright purple yam that flavors many Filipino desserts. This spiked milkshake proves the flavors are a match, topping a mixture of rum, ube ice cream, ube jam and milk with plenty of Rice Krispies cereal.
Baby Bottle Pops: Slippery Nipple
You see what we did here, right? This sweet shot of Sambuca and Irish cream is more creamy than tart, but any cocktail based on a baby’s bottle is a stretch. Just let us have this one.
Bubble Tape: Scorpion Bowl
Bubble Tape was less of a candy and more of a challenge, tempting countless kids to stuff asphyxiating amounts of gum into their faces all at once just to prove they could. The Scorpion Bowl poses a similar challenge, hiding a massive amount of booze in its basin that’s way too easy to drink down in a few seconds.