'Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops?'
A book co-written by a TODAY.com producer looks at the lost toys, tastes and trends of the 1970s and 1980s. Where are you, Quisp cereal, Malibu Barbie, and Dynamite Magazine?
Forget Highlights -- the cool preeteen read in the 1970s and 1980s was Scholastic's Dynamite Magazine. Sure, there were celebrity features, but fans also recall the Dynamite Duo superhero stories, cartoon vampire "Count Morbida," "Foxy Fiddler" the colt and kid-submitted "Bummers," which paid a whopping $5 per selected gripe. It's just one of 200 items from the 1970s and 1980s fondly remembered in the new book, "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops?"
Today, it's easy for Xbox aficionados to sneer at the simplistic graphics of the Atari 2600. But few gaming consoles have been as beloved. "Pac-Man" and "Frogger" were favorites, but fans also remember bizarre games like "Journey Escape," in which gamers tried to guide the band Journey to their spaceship. Don't stop believin'! Now new versions have been released, complete with the same cheesy fake-wood paneling.
The original Malibu Barbie came out in the early 1970s, but she was so beloved that multiple reproductions have been issued. This 2001 edition came with something the '70s original would never have dreamed of -- a bottle of sunscreen. Once more unto the beach!
Barrel of Monkeys
Barrel of Monkeys may have been one of the most low-tech toys ever made, but we loved them anyway. They're still around, and even made an appearance in the "Toy Story" movie series, where at one point the toys chain them together to try and rescue a fallen Buzz Lightyear.
'Charlie's Angels' trading cards
Boys had baseball cards, but girls fell for "Charlie's Angels" trading cards, issued in 1978 to capitalize on the hit show. The packs included stickers and that horrible dusty gum, and you were encouraged to collect them all and flip them over to assemble an enormous puzzle. No one ever did that.
There's always a rumor that candy cigarettes have been made illegal in the US, but it's not true. However, many brands have relabeled them "candy sticks" or simply "candy," and they're harder to find. Check the bottom shelves of your favorite gas-station snack department, and smoke 'em if ya got 'em.
Love's Baby Soft
Love's Baby Soft was practice perfume, and even strict moms often gave their OK. Many an impassioned Oscar acceptance speech was delivered into a bottle of Love's, clutched firmly in a 12-year-old's hands. Need to reacquaint yourself with this sweet scent? We found it still being sold at Sears.
Dapper Dan had his cotton-stuffed finger on the fashion pulse of the '70s. He was supposed to teach kids to snap, button and zip, but really, he taught us a lot more about what colors do NOT go together. Dapper? Not so much.
'Free to Be ... You and Me'
A boy who loved his doll, a girl getting chomped by tigers, and a dog fixing a sink? They all lived together happily inside the pages of "Free to Be ... You and Me," which was also a record album and a TV special. A 35th anniversary edition of this inspiring Marlo Thomas project was released in 2008, and in 2010, Target used the main song in a TV commercial.
Funny Face drink mix
It wasn't Kool-Aid, but Funny Face drink mix was beloved by tribes of thirsty kids in the 1970s. Jolly Olly Orange, seen here, wasn't that flavor's original name. It started out life as Injun Orange, which was quickly yanked. Chinese Cherry was also hastily redubbed Choo-Choo Cherry, thanks to stereotypical drawings on the original packages. The drink is gone, but the plastic mugs live on in many a thrift store.
Hugo, Man of a Thousand Faces
Hugo, Man of a Thousand Faces was also the man of a thousand nightmares. He was kind of the boy equivalent of the Barbie Styling Head. You could affix any number of provided disguises on him, including a scary scar, a wig, glasses and a goatee. There's now an online version, of course.
Some metal lunchboxes can still be purchased, but most stores sell softer meal containers now, which makes you much less likely to crown your playground rival over the head. Still, the designs on these retro boxes make our mouths water..."The Fall Guy"! "Starsky and Hutch"! "Holly Hobbie"!
Holy enduring memories! The Mego Superheroes were only 8 inches high, but they were super-powered in any kid's play arsenal. The female heroes, dubbed the "Super Gals," had bouffants that put the Ronettes to shame. Mego filed for bankruptcy in 1982, but the figures remain beloved.
Open the door ... for your Mystery Date! This is the 1972 version, but this goofy game lives on today, as there is reportedly even a "High School Musical"-themed version. You try to collect the three cards required for each themed date, from skiing to a formal dance. If you opened the door to the Dud, the brainy dude with glasses, you lose your cards! We're pretty sure the Dud was Bill Gates.
The time is right! For Pepsi Light! At first, this lemony cola took out only half the calories, but eventually it moved to a one-calorie version. Its light burned out around 1986, but don't give up hope. Pepsi tried another lemon cola , Pepsi Twist, in the 2000s.
Transistor radios came in all shapes and sizes in those days before iPods. This one's the Panapet, which was hauled around on a chain leash, a futuristic dog that barked staticky Barry Manilow songs.
G.I. Joe first invaded toyboxes in 1962, but in 1975, he was relaunched as part of an "Adventure Team." Kids fell for his Kung Fu grip, even though all it did was replace his hard-sculpted hands with soft rubber. That phrase lives on: In the 2009 movie "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra," Marlon Wayans' character comments that another character has a "kung fu grip."
Pop Rocks were the candy that fought back while they were inside your mouth. Eventually they spawned a glorious urban legend about Mikey from the Life cereal commercials chowing down on Pop Rocks and Coke and exploding. Not true, but still fun to torment your little sister with. Pop Rocks live on, and there's even a chocolate-dipped version.
Pudding Pops is actually a generic term, and more than one company make them. But the most famous variety came from Jell-O, and Bill Cosby made their ads ubiquitous in the 1980s. They melted away in the 1990s, but returned around 2004, when Jell-O licensed the name to Popsicle. True fans complained that the shape and the recipe were different. We're not finding the Jell-O brand on shelves now, but depending on where you live, there may be other varieties.
Quisp and Quake cereals were released in 1966, and went to war in 1972 via a memorable ad campaign. There was a vote, and goofy alien Quisp beat out muscly miner Quake. You can still buy Quisp today, in certain stores and online.
Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific
Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific shampoo stood out by its name alone. There was no Gee, I Think Your Butt Looks Smaller jeans, or Gee, Your Breath Doesn't Smell Quite So Rank mouthwash. We loved the pop-art packaging and the sweet '70s scent. You can still buy this shampoo online at the Vermont Country Store.
Scratch-n-sniff stickers are still around, of course, but they exploded like a sneeze in the '70s and '80s. Sweet scents dominated, but daring kids were drawn to the savory stickers, even though "pizza" smelled less like tomatoes and pepperoni, and more like a late-night burp.
'Six Million Dollar Man' action figures
Few action figures were cooler than Steve Austin from "The Six Million Dollar Man," who came complete with a huge eye to look through and peel-back rubber arm skin that revealed his bionics. Bionic Bigfoot was his worthy adversary, but really, who wanted his boring boss, Oscar Goldman? Truly, the world's first inaction figure.
Sweet Valley High
There were approximately 50 jillion "Sweet Valley High" books in the 1980s. Liz was always a goody-goody, Jessica always a bit of a brat, and their sunny California town was teeth-shatteringly perfect. There's been renewed interest in the Wakefield twins lately. A new book, "Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later," came out in spring 2011, and Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody is working on a "Sweet Valley High" movie.
Fisher-Price Little People
Fisher-Price Little People aren't so little any more. That crabby bully in the middle is an original, but he's surrounded by newer versions. They may be less likely to become choking hazards, but kids of the '70s and '80s still prefer the originals, which can be found easily at thrift stores and online.
We're not claiming View-Masters are a 1970s original -- they first surfaced in the 1930s. But it did seem as if there was one at the bottom of every 1970s toy chest. And we all had a haphazard collection of reels, from favorite TV shows to tourist destinations. Get this: There is even talk now of a View-Master big-screen movie from DreamWorks.
Wacky Packages combined three of kids' favorite things: goofy commercial mascots, paint-peeling stickers and really lame jokes. Topps started cranking out new ones recently, and even paying homage to their retro legacy with stickers that parody classic 1970s products.
You know what they say about Weebles: They wobble, but they don't fall down. For a while there, Playskool cranked out even weirder Weebles -- with arms! But in 2010, the original little ovals returned. Check out the new book, "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops?" for dozens more lost items from the 1970s and 1980s.