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:
Matzoh Ball soup
There are many, many more, but I'm more intersted to hear from other chowhounds.
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!).
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.
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).
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.
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!
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!
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.
Rice pudding (still have never tried this!)
scooter pies...moon pies.....razzles...pixy stix....chunky bar....milk duds...milky way bar...nestle quik...quisp cereal....
"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 ;)