Nothing takes me back to the '90s as quickly as the sound of dial-up. A sound forever seared into the brains of anyone old enough to remember the advent of the internet. Back when floppy disks were part of the required school supplies list each year, slap bracelets were all the rage, and butterfly clips adorned many teenage girls' heads. (A trend I'm particularly grateful doesn't exist anymore.)
American Online (AOL) reigned supreme and food blogs were popping up all over the place like daisies in a midsummer field. The dot-com era was booming and pop culture, music, and Food Network stars like Nigella Lawson were setting the stage for future generations to come. All of which helped to set up the foundation for The Spruce Eats.
As the computer became more integrated into the standard American household, consumers turned to the internet for all sorts of information, especially about their food. In 1996, the groundwork for About.com, a digital repository of information about hundreds of curated topics including food and cooking, was established. Two decades later, About.com would become Dotdash (and then Dotdash Meredith), the parent company of The Spruce Eats.
Join us on a walk down memory lane as we reminisce over the most iconic food moments that transformed the food space as we know it and see which iconic dishes had the most impact on us Editors.
Moments That Defined a Decade in Food
The '90s was a transformative decade for us. Ranging anywhere from prepubescent children to college-aged young adults, these years were pivotal in shaping who we would become as grown-ups and Food Editors. From iconic '90s foods to the original food influencers, what better way to express our appreciation and fondness for this foundational timeframe than to return to the moments that truly shaped the landscape of food and cooking for years to come, both in restaurants and in home kitchens?
- The '90s Time Machine: 42 Moments That Defined a Decade in Food: From Dunkaroos to food blogging, a handful of events throughout the '90s helped shape American food into the gastronomical landscape we know today.
- The 10 Best Food Commercials of the '90s: From Shark Bites to Juicy Fruit, the food commercials of the '90s were hilarious and quirky. Here are a few of the all-time greats.
- In the '90s, Nothing Was More Glamorous Than Clearly Canadian: As a prepubescent sixth grader, writer Allison Robicelli found her popularity calling card in the form of a sleek bottle of Clearly Canadian.
- As a '90s Kid, Nigella Taught Me That Being Perfect Is Beside the Point: For writer Meleyna Nomura, Nigella represented the fearless stability that was lacking in her life as a middle schooler in the late '90s.
- My 4 Iconic Food Moments of '90s Hip Hop: Read how Food Editor Kysha Harris pays homage to her beginnings in the music industry, and how that collides with her current career in the culinary sphere.
Our Favorite ‘90s Snacks
With plastic superhero lunch boxes, vibrant/psychedelic Lisa Frank thermoses, and the subtle (or not so subtle) art of trading snacks that was happening in the cafeteria, the ‘90s were what we consider the epitome of school snack culture. (Like pop culture, but with snacks.) Join us on our snack journey to some of our favorite recipes that you can make at home.
- The 9 Lunchbox Snacks That Were Worth Trading For in the ‘90s: From Gushers to Cosmic Brownies, editor Victoria Heydt reminisces about her all-time favorite nostalgic snacks from the '90s.
- Cosmic Brownies: There are two types of people in this world: people who like fudgy brownies, and everyone else — luckily, cosmic brownies have universal appeal. This recipe is a sure crowd-pleaser.
- Fruit Roll-Ups: Fruit Roll-Ups are one of our favorite snacks—even as adults. This homemade recipe for strawberry fruit leather is easy to adapt to any flavor you desire.
- Mozzarella Sticks: What’s not to like about fried cheese? This mozzarella sticks recipe is ooey, gooey, crunchy, and creamy. Serve them with your favorite dipping sauce or take it up a notch with a sprinkle of sugar and coat in honey.
- Hot Pockets: For this homemade (and slightly more grown-up) ham and cheese hot pocket, you’ll lean on some pantry staples and an unexpected ingredient for a trip down memory lane.
- Bagel Bites: Enjoy pizza in the morning, pizza in the evenin', and pizza at supper time, because when pizza is on a bagel, you can eat pizza anytime.
- Toaster Strudels: Homemade toaster strudels are so much tastier than the freezer version. These light and flaky pastries are filled with sweet raspberry jam and ready to be devoured.
- Viennetta Cake: Last, but certainly not least, we recreated the classic Viennetta cake with tiramisu-inspired flavors. Using store-bought vanilla and coffee ice creams, this retro cake has laminated ribbons of magic shell, finished with ruffles of mascarpone cream, and, of course, dusted with cocoa powder.