HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Foods that you first heard of on TV as a kid.

Growing up in Montana we didn't exactly have a large network of ethnic groups around, so watching television as a kid was somewhat of a window to the outside world. There were several food items that I had no idea what they were until many years later.
Here are just a few:

Din sum
Matzoh Ball soup
Po boys
Baba ghanoush

There are many, many more, but I'm more intersted to hear from other chowhounds.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Hot dogs.
    Corned beef hash.
    Carnation Instant Breakfast.
    Pop Tarts.
    Skim milk.
    Sugared breakfast cereals.

    5 Replies
    1. re: mrbozo

      ha. i was def thinking Pop Tarts as well.

      Mostly the junk food I never ate anyhoo...
      Corn Pops, Captain Crunch, all breakfast cereals really
      Fruit by the Foot
      Sara Lee products (Nobody does it like Sara Lee!)

      The good foods I learned to appreciate I often just experienced out in restaurants with my mom or with friends (moreso the latter as mom was an unadventurous dieter - thank goodness my friend's mom took us for sushi!).

      1. re: mrbozo

        Lucky Charms and Count Chocula - I was fascinated with them when I saw them advertised, but my mother would have never bought them (I never even bothered asking, knowing the answer in advance).

        When I finally had Lucky Charms at my aunt's house when I was maybe 13 years old, the dried out marshmallows and the resulting disgusting milk color were a deep, deep disappointment. A little part of my childhood died that day.

        1. re: Cachetes

          That's so funny, as I had a similar experience at an older age. We never bought the crap cereal except occasionally Captain Crunch and Corn Pops. However, I always grew up seeing the commercials for Cookie Crisp, and was so appaule that these were a "breakfast cereal" (read dessert guised as meal)... I couldn't even bring myself to eat more than a couple, and certainly not to put them into a bowl for them to have any opportunity to attempt to masquerade themselves as sustenance. Lucky Charms were crap too, as was Honey Crisp, Smacks, Cocoa Krispies. I will say though that after trying Frosted Flakes and Cocoa Puffs as an adult that those are good enough as a sweet treat (never a meal).

          1. re: Cachetes

            I'm with you on the Lucky Charms experience. I finally talked my mom into letting me have Lucky Charms as a dessert (as opposed to breakfast meal) - and after one bowl the rest went untouched. That being said, I didn't discover Cinnamon Toast Crunch until I was in college - and that would have been a much better cereal-as-dessert choice.

            Other than other food commercials that never made it into the house - my other food via TV was Turkish Delight courtesy of The Lion with Witch and the Wardrobe. Which was probably a mix of reading about it and seeing the TV version. That being said, the actual product never did anything for me.

            My other significant "what is that??" TV food commercial was a Whatchamacallit. Or however that candy bar is spelled. The commercials truly confused me to death, and it took me a while just to figure out it was a candy bar.

            1. re: cresyd

              i'm with you on the turkish delight, cresyd. i read about it in the book, and became obsessed with finding out what it was really like!

              the ones that really stick out in my mind that i know i heard about on TV for the first time were ovaltine & tang...and a bit later, sunny delight.

        2. SPAM (from Monty Python) -- had my first when I was about 20 in Spam musubi
          McDonalds (never had it until I was...maybe 17?) - like McNuggets? No idea.
          Jello pudding -- still never had it
          Pop Tarts -- had my first at about 25.
          Kool-Aid -- never had it.

          I'm impressed you even heard of spaetzle...My mum made fresh spaetzle -- to die for. I can do it but it's so much effort and they taste so much better when someone else makes them!

          1 Reply
          1. re: khh1138

            We had just about every sugar cereal, hostess treat, soda, Kool-Aid, and my mother baked everyday, too. My best friend always said coming to our house was like going to Willy Wonka's factory, and she spent an awful lot of time at our house as kids.

            The odd thing now is I don't eat any junk food or soda (sans potato chips, my true addiction) and my passion for foods I never had as a kid is overwhelming as well as my distain for processed foods.

            I heard spaetzle mentioned in a cartoon once as a kid, and it stuck in my mind for years until that curiosity was satisfied...I love simply love it!

          2. Growing up in a Korean household, a lot of traditional "American" food was foreign to me... here's a few off the top of my head.

            Pot roast
            Rice pudding (still have never tried this!)

            1. scooter pies...moon pies.....razzles...pixy stix....chunky bar....milk duds...milky way bar...nestle quik...quisp cereal....

              1. labna!

                in season 4 of the simpsons, bart develops a crush on a new girl who moves in next door. she's very worldly, and tells bart, "take your kafta bi sanieh and dip it in the labna."

                and bart replies, "now THAT's good labna."

                7 Replies
                1. re: beelzebozo

                  I remember watching that episode as a kid and thinking that you don't dip into labne and wouldn't eat it with kofta.

                  1. re: JungMann

                    I've had it where it wasn't pressed and you could dip into it if you wanted to, but I have definitely used bread and not a kofta.

                    As to me- I'm still waiting for my first experience with Khlav Kalash. Where is that vendor, anyway?

                    1. re: TongoRad

                      I didn't realize that they had that kind of labne in Afghanistan... or that they named their dishes in Arabic!

                      The Khlav Kalash guy was supposedly in the plaza between the WTC towers. If I never get to try Khlav Kalash, the terrorists have won.

                      1. re: JungMann

                        "I didn't realize that they had that kind of labne in Afghanistan... or that they named their dishes in Arabic!"

                        Maybe that's why Two Guys From Kabul was on the brink of failure. Conan O'Brien wrote that one, right? I'm sure he had a pretty detailed backstory all written up for those guys ;)

                        1. re: TongoRad

                          whatever the case, the purportedly inaccurate joke has inspired me to cook chicken curry this evening.

                    2. re: JungMann

                      Well, where I've had it, you definitely do dip into labne and eat with kofta, stuffed grape leaves, kebabs, etc. The labne I know (from Lebanon and Arabian peninsula is drained, not pressed.)

                      1. re: pikawicca

                        i trust the girl from the simpsons on this one, and i trust you too, pika.

                  2. Sushi - I was out of childhood & heard it referred to on 90210! A few years later I started coming across it in the area I lived. At that point the area had a small Thai and smaller Vietnamese population, but not much of anyone from other Asian countries. Now there are Sushi places easily found there!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: meatn3

                      hey, sushi from the simpsons, too! season 2, "one fish two fish blowfish bluefish," when homer eats fugu and thinks he's going to die. excellent episode.

                    2. yup..

                      growing up in Australia I was fascinated by your cereals.. Capt'n Crunch and things like that.

                      I always wanted to know what Dr Pepper was, (and nearly hurled when I did try it in the States in my 20's)

                      Pop tarts, Oreo's.. and the big one??

                      At the opening credits of Roseanne, it showed the fam all sitting down eating pizza, and they sprinkle something on it... like a salt shaker.. sprinkling it on slices of take-away pizza.

                      What the hell WAS that??

                      5 Replies
                        1. re: purple goddess

                          I haven't seen that in years, but my guess is that it's Kraft parmesan cheese in the green can. Many kids in the U.S. grew up thinking that was the real deal...including yours truly.

                          1. re: kkak97

                            this is what i thought, also.
                            season 5 opener: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=xoDJtP1...

                            but, it is not kraft, but some generic grated parm-in-a-can! fitting for roseanne!

                          2. re: purple goddess

                            red pepper flakes, a customary post-bake shake-on for pizza in america.

                            1. re: Emme

                              Or oregano. Most pizza places arounf here have a shaker of red pepper flakes and one of oregano on the table.

                          3. Ok, I'm showing my age, I grew up in Boston and I was familiar with lots of foods but watching the "Partridge Family" when I was a kid they were always at burrito and taco stands. I begged and begged my mom to make them but at that time the ingrediants weren't really available in Boston so it wasn't until a few years later that I got to try them.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: joan828

                              Seriously, I remember Alice on the Brady Bunch eating vichyssoise on an episode where she was on a date. While the episode was memorable simply because Alice was actually on a date, the whole thought of vichyssoise really stuck with me.

                              1. re: kkak97

                                You know, my first response was "pork chops and applesauce" also from the Brady Bunch. I didn't know that people ate them together.

                                1. re: thinks too much

                                  Really? I grew up eating applesauce with pork chops - love the combo! And I'm so happy I'm not the only one here who remembers The Brady Bunch and the Partridge Family. And even Donna Reed! *G*

                                  1. re: thinks too much

                                    this was also in a simpsons episode, and where i heard it first. season 3, "oh brother, where art thou?" i believe. homer's long lost brother herb has a private chef who will make homer porkchops and applesauce any time he wants.

                                  2. re: joan828

                                    Yeah- tacos weren't too common on Long Island during the 70's either, at least not among my friends and family. That is, until those commercials made them look so fun: "I like making them" "I like eating them". Once I got my mom to buy one of those kits, though, I was hooked for life.

                                  3. I was 9 when I saw The Breakfast Club on tv and Molly Ringwald's character brought "sushi" for lunch. I immediately decided that it must be something very cool:) But when I found out what she was actually eating, it was several years before I agreed to try it!

                                    1. As a kid, I used to watch Our Gang shorts on TV and there seemed to be a lot of jokes involving Limburger cheese. I've still never encountered it in real life, though I do like stinky cheese.

                                      1. Ovaltine (Captn. Midnight), Bosco & Cocoa Marsh, Instant Breakfast, Flavor Straws, "Chunky, What a chunk of Chocolate!" " Me Hee for Yoo Hoo", Yogi Bera and "Tastee Cake Cakes and Pies". Jingles

                                        1. I grew up in Australia, and when I was a kid there wasn't much in the way of US imports... so the first time I ever heard of M&Ms, hershey's kisses, were all either in kids books or on television.I remember the first time I saw an actual twinkie in the store - I HAD to buy it just to see what it tasted like because I'd wondered if they were made up.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Kajikit

                                            same with Oreos. When they came to Coles I just HAD to buy them!

                                          2. Tang. That dates, me, I guess.

                                            8 Replies
                                            1. re: BobB

                                              Remember when pizza was a new "exotic" food? And frozen did not exist?
                                              "Here is the airplane and you are the hangar."
                                              Uncle Ralph to Markie Mapo
                                              (Mapo commercial)

                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                Sure, I was probably about 11 when I was visiting my cousin and he suggested we get a slice of "pizza pie" at a nearby Italian place. It was the first time I'd had it and it was quite possibly the most delicious thing I'd ever put in my mouth up to then.

                                                P.S. The nitpicker in me has to remind you it was Maypo - and darn yummy stuff, too!

                                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                  Yeah. The original Chef Boyardee pizza in a box. The cheese and the sauce were in these little cans and you mixed the crust yourself. It wasn't bad for what it was. How about Jiffy-Pop popcorn, Great Shakes, Fizzies, Koll-Aid and other interactive treats that required some degree of preparation? Not especially good, but gave you something to do. I guess the microwave oven changed a lot of that.

                                                2. re: BobB

                                                  I'm in the same vintage as BobB, I can recall Space Sticks in their snazzy silver paper wrappers.

                                                  1. re: lrostron

                                                    Who can forget the stiff but spongy texture upon your first bite of Space Food Sticks? Even as an acne ridden adolescent, it was a moment of clarity where I realized that there is "real food" and then there's the stuff that "they're trying to sell us." They had the aura of post-Sputnik jingoism combined with an apparent joint venture between Pillsbury and Dow Chemical.

                                                    Here's a vintage commercial:


                                                    1. re: FoodFuser

                                                      Oh, Flashback! I can still taste that cardboard spongy thing that I'm sure any self-respecting astronaut would refuse to eat. What a memory - thanks for nothing. Just Kidding!

                                                      But Tang... that actually has happy memories for me. For some reason I really enjoyed stirring up a glass for breakfast, even while refusing to drink my Mom's fresh-squeezed orange juice!

                                                      1. re: FoodFuser

                                                        oh gosh, NOW i remember those space food sticks. like blended compost with peanut butter or choco-flavor, then extruded to dry out like wild raccoon dung, neatly enclosed in space age foil wrap.

                                                        fuser, you are too hilarious: "apparent joint venture between Pillsbury and Dow Chemical"!! lol

                                                      2. re: lrostron

                                                        maybe i just have beverages on the brain [tang, ovaltine, sunny-d], but the "snazzy silver" comment reminded me of the foil capri-sun juice pouches. when those things first came out they were THE coolest drink to have in your lunch.

                                                    2. Ovaltine, on "Capt. Midnight"

                                                      Bet you now guess MY age...


                                                      Oops, Passdamug beat me to it - dang!

                                                      10 Replies
                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                        Bill, at least it wasn't the radio show :-)

                                                        Good to see you post. You've always been one of my favorite hounds.

                                                        1. re: kkak97

                                                          Such kind words! I am blushing, but you just cannot see it.

                                                          I actually have a few (repressed?) memories of the radio version. I'd play beneath my mother's ironing board, while she'd listen to "Inner Sanctom," baseball, "Amos N Andy," "Boston Blackie," and "Captain Midnight."

                                                          My next TV food reference was a space program, sponsored by Ralston Purina, and their hot cereal at the time. I was actually the 2nd place winner of their "name the planet" contest. However, my prize was a Schwinn "English Racer." It was taller than I was, and I had not even graduated past "training wheels" yet. My dad traded my prize for a 24" balloon-tired (little did I know that one day fat-tired trail bikes would be all the rage), bike. Some years later, I paid full price for an identical English Racer, from my newspaper money.

                                                          I had completely forgotten about Ralston Purina, until you replied. Still Ovaltine was the first.

                                                          Trying to recall any radio food items, but the memories are too cloudy.

                                                          I guess that we can all tell who the "old guy," is, on CH.


                                                        2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                          OK Iggy Hunt (Captain Midnight's side kick), Who sold Kellogg's Sugar Frosted Flakes?
                                                          Tony the Tiger, "They're Grrrrrrreat!'

                                                          The Good&Plenty, Good&Plenty, Good&Plenty choo choo.

                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                            Hey, I remember when Tony was but a cub...

                                                            Because of the more contemporary citings on this thread, I've tried to go back and see if I can recall some of the items, with previous spokes "persons," or with previous affiliations to TV programs (back from MY day).

                                                            Didn't "Sky King," have a food sponsor? Where's the Wayback Machine, when you need it?


                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                              from the "wayback machine," aka wikipedia...

                                                              On November 2, 1947 in the episode titled "Mountain Detour" the Sky King Secret Signalscope was used. Listeners were advised to get their own for only 15 cents and the inner seal from a jar of Peter Pan Peanut Butter (produced by sponsor Derby Foods).


                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                Wow, and quick too! I thought that there was a food item. I would NEVER have come up with Peter Pan.

                                                                It must have been a requirement, that the "inner seals" from various items were necessary to get the "prize."

                                                                Now, however old I am, I have to admit that it was not until about '53, that I first saw "Sky King." Gosh, think of all those episodes, that I missed.

                                                                Another early food/TV reference, that I recall was the actor Andy Devine for sugar-coated puffed cereal. Guess that I need to head to the Wiki-pedia, to see which western TV program he was on ("Buffalo Bill?") and what the cereal was (Sugar Pops?).

                                                                Now, I AM feeling old,


                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                  Ok, GoodHealth, what product gave you the title to one square foot of land in Alaska? I can't remember, I think it was breakfast cereal, but I sure as hell remember the certificate! I wonder if mom has it squirreled away some where?

                                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                    ask and you shall receive...


                                                                    it was quaker puffed wheat & puffed rice cereals.

                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                      Seeing the 1 sq. in certificate was a blast from the past. It was aa sq. in., not a foot. We used to goof around trying to calculate how much cereal we'd have to eat to get a usable amount of land.

                                                                    2. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                      hopefully, that'll be the one square foot they need to drill for oil. you'll be rich, and be able to buy lots more cereal!

                                                            2. With 4 kids and a teacher (who also owned a flower shop!) ,my mom tired her best to cook from scratch. There was the odd processed food thing in the house but these stand out:

                                                              Rice a Roni - to this day I've never tried it. I don't even know if we have it here in our grocery stores. I'd never really looked. Is it like hamburger helper but, a Rice version??

                                                              For sugared cereal, I was finally able to try cinnamon toast crunch when I was about 13. It was gross. Too sweet. I just left the bowl after 2 bites. Good thing it was at my aunt's place. I'd have felt bad if mom bought it and none of us touched it. We didn't have much money. We always felt bad if something was wasted.

                                                              For desserts, my sister one time order baked Alaska at a restaurant because Daddy Warbucks loved it on Annie. Well when it came to our table and she saw it, she was so upset. She hates ice cream cakes AND Meringue. Oops! Again she really felt bad that mom had paid for it. The thing was flippin' huge. Oh well Mom ate it. Funny though, I know Mom hates ice cream cakes too...LOL

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: livetocook

                                                                i sent a box of cinnamon toast crunch to a friend in belgium and they went ballistic. it's hugely popular around the house, too.

                                                                1. re: livetocook

                                                                  ahh, yes. daddy warbucks and his baked alaska. for years i wondered what it was! while we're talking movies, "the flamingo kid" was my first introduction to aspic.

                                                                  i know the first time i ever heard of ambrosia it was on TV, but i don't remember what show.

                                                                  i distinctly recalls that when i first saw the honeycomb cereal commercials with "honeycomb kids" i made my mom buy it for me. we had a treehouse in the backyard, and their clubhouse was so cool that i wanted to be like them. in fact, i'm pretty sure every sugar cereal that ever made its way into the house did so because either my sister or i saw it in a commercial during saturday morning cartoons...

                                                                  1. re: livetocook

                                                                    if you can't find rice-a-roni, break up a half a pound of vermicelli into approximate 1/2 inch to 1 inch long pieces. Add an equal amount of plain uncooked rice, and lightly brown the vermicelli&rice in butter or your choice of oil. add a couple of tablespoons of your favorite "italian" seasoning mix, pour in a can of chicken broth, let come to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes or so.

                                                                  2. Tootsie Rolls - but not from TV, but from the Beach Boys album Surf's Up circa 1971 or 2. The track Disney Girls mentions toosie rolls and we in England had no clue what they were.

                                                                    1. "Ronzoni sona buoni, means Ronzoni is so good!

                                                                      1. Rice A Roni, the San Francisco treat... I can still hear the jingle. We went to dinner at my aunt's, and she served it. I had never eaten anything like it, because my mom and grandmother made everything from scratch. I thought she was so cool for serving it! (I was only nine. What did I know).

                                                                        Ditto on all of the sugared cereals, although we usually had only Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies in our house because my parents didn't like the idea of chocolate cereal. Also, Carnation Instant Breakfast, which we were allowed to drink by the time we were teens. I also remember the ads for convenience foods targeted toward cooks, such as Shake 'n Bake, and any frozen vegetable you can imagine hawked by Peg Bracken, who allegedly wrote the "I Hate to Cook Book". Never ate any of those until I had my first apartment, and I remember being very disappointed. Perhaps the worst abomination was for some kind of instant potatoes, marketed in commercials in which they showed cooks just killing themselves trying to make mashies from scratch. The "good" cook mashed and mashed, the "better" cook riced and riced, but the "great" cook just whipped hers up from a box.


                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: RGC1982

                                                                          rice-a-roni, the sodium-frisco treat!

                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                            Soda, I came from a family of 8 where milk and bread were standards, along with potatoes. When we did get soda it was from a local bottler and we never had it in the house. We only had pizza from a parlor that froze it and we cooked it at home, never from a pizza place. I also remember TV dinners as a novelty with that lovely cherry or apple cobbler side dish. Juice drinks other than from concentrate frozen were scarce and sought after too. I do remember the first time we did Kentucky Fried Chicken while on a trip to Maine....

                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                              Oh the sodium! I always wondered why the chicken flavored Rice a Roni smelled strangely like that other nearly-lethal sodium cocktail, Lipton chicken noodle soup in the box.

                                                                              Now that I take a BP pill every day, I really wonder how everyone else does it.

                                                                              1. re: RGC1982

                                                                                I'm the just opposite RCG, I take pills to retain sodium. So really saltly products taste really good to me.

                                                                                If I had to take BP like you, I'd wonder the exact same thing!