Power-ranking the top 25 old-school lunchbox snacks

the best lunchbox snacks

During elementary and middle school, there was always that nerve-wracking moment right before you opened your lunch where you knew that if you didn't get a good snack next to your PB&J and Capri Sun, YOUR ENTIRE DAY AND MAYBE EVEN YOUR LIFE WOULD BE RUINED FOREVER. With that said, we ranked the 25 most popular snacks, from day-ruiner to day-maker. So pay attention, MOM. 25. An AppleSeriously mom? A Red Delicious apple that is now kind of warm and has those gross, mushy spots and is all mealy, and I can't even pawn it off on my teacher to be a kiss-ass because she also thinks it's gross? Get one of these in your G.I. Joe Storm Shadow Edition lunchbox, and YOU KNOW things aren't going well at home. 24. Pretzel Sticks Pretzel sticks are really the pretzel version of phoning it in. They're mad salty, so you absolutely need to have a sweet juice box to pair them with, but they're also so thin, that you can't even suck the salt off and pretend you have a cigar and you're '40s Boston politician James Curley passing out patronage jobs to your Irish-Catholic political allies in exchange for pardoning you for mail fraud. Wait, what are we talking about again?23. Go-Gurt Again with the things that are good when they're cold, but now really gross because they should've been refrigerated, except people in the '90s didn't know that yet. Also, you have to suck on a plastic wrapper that can give your tongue paper cuts if you're not careful, and NO ONE IS EVER CAREFUL when eating Go-Gurt.

kudos bars

22. Kudos
No, we're not referring to claim or praise for exceptional achievement. Kudos were essentially a clever move by Mars to produce a candy bar that moms would think was healthy enough to pack in a lunch. And for about 11yrs in a row during the '80s and '90s, my mom fell for it. But that cleverness comes with a cost: they split the difference between granola and candy bar, and ended up being a not very exceptional version of either.
 21. Donettes
Why am I getting so fat? I don't understand it. It's not like I'm eating AN ENTIRE BOX OF DONUTS every lunch. Oh, right. I am.
 20. Snack Packs
Sorry, Adam Sandler, but Snack Packs aren't moving any higher than 20 on this list, partially for the aforementioned "these things taste weird when they're not refrigerated" clause, and partially because my mom wouldn't buy them, even though she essentially bought me 11yrs' worth of candy bars. Resentment minus refrigeration equals revenge.
 19. Oreos
Oreos are good. No one is going to say Oreos aren't good. But here's the thing: that crumbly-ass chocolate cookie gets all up in your teeth, and makes you look like you've outlined each tooth in black magic marker, and that's going to kill your make-out game with Kristin Fletcher, and she's going to end up dumping you in a note Jane Crowley gives you at lunch written in purple marker. It's just how shit goes down. 

nutter butter

18. Nutter Butters
They're peanut-shaped sandwich cookies filled with peanut butter. They make you so effin' thirsty. The cookies kind of look like they have tire tread on them. The peanut butter filling is weird and tends to clump together in an unreasonable manner. They throw me off my game. They're only ranked higher than Oreos for the aforementioned teeth-embarrassment issue. 

17. Twinkies
You know what's kind of gross? A sponge cake filled with cream that lasts longer than most Egyptian pharaoh's tombs. You know what's kind of delicious? A sponge cake filled with cream that lasts longer than most Egy-- you get the point. Twinkies cause a confluence of conflicting emotions.

16. Goldfish
No, this is before they had those Flavor Blasted sh*ts and started making them into cookies and adding actual eyes and other terrifying details. We're talking back in the day of Plain, Cheddar, and Parmesan. Plain meant your mom didn't love you; Cheddar meant you were normal; Parmesan meant your grandparents were kind of Italian.

15. String Cheese
Before incidents involving them created jam bands moderately less popular than Widespread Panic, string cheese was just that thing mostly girls ate at lunch. It's delicious, sure, but I always sort of got skeeved out by the top, which would get a little bit smushed and greasy from the oils in your fingertips as you tried to peel it off, and then it was all I could really think about. Middle school was hard for me, okay?!?!

14. Animal Crackers
They've got to be the ones in the box that looks like a train car transporting all sorts of dangerous animals in a not very safe manner. Those kind were delicious. All the rest of them were too damn dry and flaky, plus you'd lose the respect of the rich kids with those train boxes. Lose-lose.

13. Cheez-Its
Speaking of rich versus poor: God bless the kid whose mom packed him Cheese Nips. Bringing Cheese Nips to a Cheez-It party is like wearing a Polaroid of a tuxedo taped to your chest to a black tie event; it's just not going to go well. Cheez-Its, meanwhile, were salty, cheesy, and delicious, and only occasionally gave you orange stuff all up in your toofs.

honey buns

12.  Iced Honey Buns
Yeah, they're great and all, but: what the hell kind of mother is giving their kid iced honey buns? (SPOILER ALERT: Generally speaking, this is the exact same kid who got Donettes and now deals with type 2 diabetes.)

 11. Fruit by the Foot
How many feet was it? Three? Six? Were the makers of Bubble Tape somehow involved? Seems like the makers of Bubble Tape might be involved.

10. Ritz Bitz
How many times does making a food smaller make it better? Never! Until these. They’re like the opposite of the huge cookie from Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. They also earn extra points for the little sandwiches with the cheese or peanut butter in the middle.

9. Hostess Fruit Pies
Whatever you do, NEVER look at the nutritional information on these. In a legit feather-rumpler, we vote for cherry over apple.

8. Rice Krispie Treats
When Mom made them, even though she made you help, they were pretty good. When Kellogg’s started mass-producing them, they were even better, probably because you didn’t help.

handi snacks

7. Handi-Snacks
That little red rectangle of a knife represented Freedom of Spreadability, and at that point in your blissfully Manchego-ignorant life, there was no “really incredibly fake cheese” before “cheese”.

6. Fruit Rollups
Any time you can play with your food in more than one legitimate way before consumption, you’ve got a winner. Pull out the shapes, eat said shapes first, maybe stick said shapes on things, scrunch it into a ball to see if it’ll chew for longer like that, accidentally eat part of the cellophane and not really give a crap -- the list never ended.

5. Teddy Grahams
When you evolve from a lunch snack to a breakfast cereal, you know you got something going on. Now make with the steak-size TGs for dinner.

4. Gushers
Again, play-with-ability is a factor. Was it more fun to squash them with a soda can to see how far the juice would fly, or eat them? TRICK QUESTION!! It was more fun to be the kid who had them and didn’t even care about the answer to that, because he traded them three days a week for five times as many snacks. Maybe the finest example ever of something existing as both snack and currency.

3. Combos
No other snack has ever shoved an entire pizzeria into a pretzel.

2. Dunkaroos
If you’ve never put every single bit of chocolate on one kangaroo, you have never lived a day in your life.

shark bites
Grant Marek

1. Shark Bites
Ever hear the story about the kid who got an entire bag of Great Whites? Yeah, that kid turned into Barack Obama.