The 9 Worst Foods In '90s Lunchboxes, Ranked

It’s back-to-school season, and that means you’re in the midst of buying school supplies, and mentally planning out kiddo’s lunch. Right? Or at least looking for the most seemingly healthy but convenient foods. That’s me about 80 percent of the time, too. But do you remember when it was your own parents packing you lunch? And some of them were great, but terrible for you. And others were good for you, but you couldn’t stand? Lest we forget, I've gone ahead and ranked the worst food in 90s lunchboxes, and you know you’re going to want in on this nostalgia trip.

I grew up bringing lunch to school. I couldn’t stand the cafeteria food and, rather than let me starve, my mother packed food away for me. For the entire decade of the 90s, I survived on Doritos, Handi-Snacks, Little Debbie cakes, bologna sandwiches, and other food that was definitely delicious but definitely did not qualify as healthy. In this list, I revisit some of the worst foods to ever be placed in lunchboxes during my childhood. They all have their own reasons for making it onto the list, though you can be certain that they are all truly deserving of “worst” status. So, without further ado...

Fruit String Thing

Maybe some kids thought these were cool, but I’d say they were the least fun out of all the “fruit” snacks. And I use the parentheses because, honestly, there was no fruit in this sugary gelatinous stuff. I was partial to Gushers, myself, but I know overall, these were all terrible for me. Oh, and if you had braces, forget about it.


I know these sugary treats looked like a whole lot of fun, but c’mon. The intense sugar crash that came after dunking sugar cookies into frosting? No fun for anyone.

Ham & American Cheese Lunchables

Look, everyone knows if you brought the Pizza Lunchables to school, you were the true winner of the cafetaria. Turkey was...acceptable, especially if it had swiss or cheddar. But Ham and American Lunchables? Why are you even bringing Lunchables, kid? Definitely the hardest Lunchable to trade of (especially if yours didn’t even come with a cookie). And now this might be the sentence with the most mentions of the word “Lunchable” ever.

Fritos Wow! Fat-Free Potato Chips

Your folks may have thrown a bag of these into your lunch box at some time in the 90s. This was when we started seeing a bigger push toward “healthier” labeling. Fat-free, you say? Sure! But Olestra (which is what these chips are made with) also gives you diarrhea. Not exactly how you want to spend the hour after lunch. And, unsurprisingly, they’ve been discontinued.

Planter’s Cheese Balls

I love me some cheeseballs. However, the yellow powder sticks to you like white on rice. It’ll get under your fingernails. It stains your teeth. Let’s just say most kids give them up by the time puberty starts for a reason. Also see: Cheetos.


I have a personal trauma regarding Squeeze-Its and some jerk kids who used to tease me because they thought the bottles looked like penises. And then of course, I was supposed to drink from them. NOT COOL. Anyway, Squeeze-Its no longer exist, and it’s probably for the best.

Spam Sandwich

Some kids got bologna and cheese (which, also yuck). But if you got a spam sandwich? Everyone was wondering what the hell was wrong with your parents. Plus, no one would trade lunches with you. The worst.

A Bag Of Broken Doritos 3D

Doritos 3D (or any Doritos, for that matter) already aren't known for their nutritional value. But when that tiny bag of carbs is all crushed up? I mean, how does one even deal with this kind of disappointment?

Mostly Spoiled Banana

This isn’t really a '90s thing, though I feel like maybe these days parents are (hopefully) realizing that bananas don’t transport well in kid’s lunch boxes. A parent might have placed a mostly yellow banana in your box that morning. But by mid-day, it’d been beaten around and resulted in a banana that looks a hot mess. No one wants to eat that thing. Save the bananas for when you’re at home.