There’s always been a sort of brotherhood among lunchrooms spanning the globe. Despite the food fights, relentlessly cruel teasing, and disgusting government-subsidized cheese, elementary school cafeterias were always filled with an overwhelming sense of community. This unity stemmed from the pirate-like bartering system that existed in our 40 minute microcosm of lunchtime–trading snacks.
Whether it was a banana for a pudding pack or a handful of gushers for a fruit roll-up, there was always an endless amount of sharing and exchanging that went on between friends. Everyone remembers the kid whose mother wouldn’t let him have anything unhealthy and his desperate attempts to trade up his fruit cups for something more delectable. Sucks to be that nerd.
One of the hottest commodities on the lunchbox trading scene was the grand daddy of all snack foods in the 90s. This treasure was a product that still graces grocery store shelves with a deliciousness that cannot be denied and mascot who only ups the level of intrigue. I’m talking about the be-all, end-all treat that made normal kids turn into shivering crackheads at the sight of it. I’m talking about DUNK-A-ROOS.
Launched in 1988 by Betty Crocker, Dunk-A-Roos were pioneered by mad scientists who knew how to design snacks that kids would throw tantrums over. Its mascot, the Australian-accented Sydney the kangaroo was just as demonic and lovable as Joe Camel or any of the other kid-centric monsters of marketing. He knew exactly what he was doing when he hopped along the TV screen, enticing kids with his poor Paul Hogan impression.
What kid wouldn’t want kangaroo-shaped cookies that you dunk into icing? It wasn’t just unhealthy, it was absurdly unhealthy. Taking a sugary, calorie-dense food and dipping it into an even more sugary, belt-busting icing dip is probably 75% of the reason for our current state of childhood obesity. No one could resist.
In my day, kids wouldn’t just barter for Dunk-A-Roos themselves, but for elements of the package. One lucky soul would get the cookies while another would beg and plead for a finger full of the icing. It was like splitting up a drug package between fiends. All they wanted was a taste.
Even today’s iteration with its new mascot, Duncan the daredevil, is a hit among children and adults alike. Dunk-A-Roos’ longevity and everlasting appeal is a testament to Betty Crocker’s understanding of the consumer mindset. What isn’t fattening enough through conventional means can only be made more appealing by adding icing into the mix. Just ask Oreo.
Simply put: Dunk-A-Roos fucking rule.