12 Childhood Snacks You Can Make at Home

The '80s and '90s were the golden era of childhood snacks. Lunchboxes were filled to the gills with goo-filled fruit snacks, cartoon-branded pastries, and neon green juice. Those nostalgic for their after-school eats from childhood only need to remember that they are now adults with a kitchen. Take matters into your own hands and recreate these lunchbox classics. 

1. DUNKAROOS

Most people remember Dunkaroos as their first lesson in restraint. Each kangaroo-shaped cookie received a carefully rationed amount of frosting, lest the eater be left with a bunch of dry cookies. While these cookies are still for sale in Canada, the rest of us will have to recreate the treat at home with Teddy Grahams.

2. HI-C ECTO COOLER

Ecto Cooler was glowing green liquid sugar that was released in tandem with the new show The Real Ghostbusters. The drink was a huge success—even outliving the show it was helping promote—but it was eventually discontinued. [Update (April 2016): It's back!!]

3. BUTTERFINGER BB'S

Thanks to Bart Simpson, these bite-sized Butterfinger spheres will always have a place in our hearts. Luckily, you can make them at home using only three ingredients—and one of them is candy corn. 

4. SURGE

You knew you were at the right birthday party when they were serving Surge—the dangerously caffeinated soda that likely created a generation of very strong coffee drinkers. When the drink was inevitably discontinued, it was so traumatic that there is an actual website solely dedicated to resurrecting it. It must have worked because Surge is making a comeback, and you can now find Surge in most eastern states. 

5. SPRINKL'INS

This one seems like a no-brainer, but you can recreate Sprinkl'ins simply by buying Dannon vanilla or strawberry yogurt, and then adding sprinkles or colored sugar. Since you no longer have to abide by what the packaging provides you, any candy you can think of will do.

6. TMNT PUDDING PIE

Even as a child, I found these bright green pastries a little gross. But I won’t pass judgment if you would like to go through the work of baking some of your own.

7. MALLOMARS

These best way to make a cookie better is to put marshmallow on top of it and cover it in chocolate. You can still buy Mallomars in the grocery store, but there’s something to be said for ones you can make fresh in your own kitchen. 

8. WONDERBALL

The Wonderball was America’s version of the Kinder Surprise. Although they once had toys inside, in 2000 they were sold with candy instead to avoid choking hazards. You can no longer buy these spherical candies, but you can make your own. Follow the recipe above to make hollow chocolate balls, and then fill them with whatever candy or toys you would like. 

9. SNACKWELL'S DEVIL'S FOOD COOKIES

You can still buy these chocolate cookies, but they won’t taste the same. After being purchased by Back to Nature in 2013, the cookies were re-released without all the high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, or preservatives. Blech! Luckily, you can make your own unhealthy treats at home. 

10. E.L. FUDGE COOKIES

Is there anything greater than biting the head of a smiling cookie elf? Probably not. This recipe lets you bake your favorite elf-shaped cookies, but you’ll have to settle on a different shape. Luckily, there are plenty of cookie cutters on the market to choose from.

11. HANDI-SNACKS

Dipping crackers and pretzels into the little plastic container of artificial cheese always grossed my mom out, but it was a lunchbox favorite for me. For a classier version, you can make your own cheese dip and crackers. 

12. HOT POCKETS

If you miss Hot Pockets, but not enough to actually eat one, try making your own—plus, this way you'll know exactly what ingredients are going into it. 

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These Sparrows Have Been Singing the Same Songs for 1500 Years
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iStock

Swamp sparrows are creatures of habit—so much so that they’ve been chirping out the same few tunes for more than 1500 years, Science magazine reports.

These findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, resulted from an analysis of the songs of 615 adult male swamp sparrows found in six different areas of the northeastern U.S. Researchers learned that young swamp sparrows pick up these songs from the adults around them and are able to mimic the notes with astounding accuracy.

Here’s what one of their songs sounds like:

“We were able to show that swamp sparrows very rarely make mistakes when they learn their songs, and they don't just learn songs at random; they pick up commoner songs rather than rarer songs,” Robert Lachlan, a biologist at London’s Queen Mary University and the study’s lead author, tells National Geographic.

Put differently, the birds don’t mimic every song their elders crank out. Instead, they memorize the ones they hear most often, and scientists say this form of “conformist bias” was previously thought to be a uniquely human behavior.

Using acoustic analysis software, researchers broke down each individual note of the sparrows’ songs—160 different syllables in total—and discovered that only 2 percent of sparrows deviated from the norm. They then used a statistical method to determine how the songs would have evolved over time. With recordings from 2009 and the 1970s, they were able to estimate that the oldest swamp sparrow songs date back 1537 years on average.

The swamp sparrow’s dedication to accuracy sets the species apart from other songbirds, according to researchers. “Among songbirds, it is clear that some species of birds learn precisely, such as swamp sparrows, while others rarely learn all parts of a demonstrator’s song precisely,” they write.

According to the Audubon Guide to North American Birds, swamp sparrows are similar to other sparrows, like the Lincoln’s sparrow, song sparrow, and chipping sparrow. They’re frequently found in marshes throughout the Northeast and Midwest, as well as much of Canada. They’re known for their piercing call notes and may respond to birders who make loud squeaking sounds in their habitat.

[h/t Science magazine]

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18 Smart Products To Help You Kick Off Summer
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iStock

Whether you’re trying to spiff up your backyard barbeque or cultivate your green thumb, these summertime gadgets will help you celebrate the season from solstice to the dog days.

1. ROSÉ WINE GLASSES; $60

Rosé Wine Glass
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Wine not? When the temperature rises and beer isn’t your thing, reach for the rosé. Riedel’s machine-blown SST (see, smell, taste) wine glasses will give the sparkly stuff ample room to breathe, making every refreshing sip worthwhile.

Find It: Amazon

2. NERF N-STRIKE ELITE SURGEFIRE; $25

Nerf SurgeFire
Hasbro

Why It’s Cool: The N-Strike Elite SurgeFire (say that five-times-fast) sports a pump-action rotating drum for maximum foam-based firepower and holds up to 15 Nerf darts in its arsenal.

Find It: Hasbro Toy Shop

3. BUSHEL & BERRY PLANTS; $34

plant
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: You don’t need to have a green thumb to create a brag-worthy garden this summer. Besides producing snackable mid-season berries, these open-growing bushes can be planted immediately for easy set-up to make you look like a botanical pro.

Find It: Amazon

4. INFLATABLE DONUT; $17

Doughnut float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When the only dunking you’re doing is taking a dip in the pool, a 48-inch inflatable donut is the perfect way to stay afloat.

Find It: Amazon

5. STAR SPANGLED SPATULA; $21

American flag spatula
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: O say can you see by your grill’s charcoal light / Meats so proudly we cooked ... with a star spangled spatula. Depending on the specific model, these all-American grilling tools (designed in New Jersey and made in Chicago) are made of a combination of walnut and stainless steel or nylon. As an added bonus: 5 percent of the proceeds go to the Penn Abramson Cancer Center.

Find It: Amazon

6. MLB HOT DOG BRANDERS; $8 AND UP

MLB San Diego Padres Hot Dog BBQ Brander
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Take your hot dogs, sausages, brats, and more out to the ballgame without ever leaving your grill. These branders from Pangea Brands are dishwasher-safe and made of ceramic-coated cast iron.

Find It: Amazon

7. UNA GRILL; $139

grill
MoMA Shop

Why It’s Cool: This portable charcoal-heated grill is as efficient as it is stylish. The compact size lets you cook at the park, after hitting up MoMA, or anywhere in between.

Find It: MoMa Shop

8. HAMBURGER GRILLING BASKET; $21


Why It’s Cool: Made of steel and finished with a non-stick coating, this grilling tool flips four burgers at once and maintains perfect burger proportions to guarantee nobody stays hungry for long.

Find It: Amazon

9. COPPER FIRE PIT; $121

metal fire pit
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: The grill isn’t the only place for a roaring fire this summer. This 100 percent solid copper fire pit makes for the perfect gathering spot at your next BBQ, or just to warm up after a cool summer evening.

Find It: Amazon

10. BENDY STRAW POOL NOODLE FLOAT; $10

Bendy Straw Inflatable Pool Float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Inflatable pool floats shouldn’t be boring, and this bendy straw float definitely does not suck. This unique spin on traditional pool noodles is sure to make for some cheesy jokes, but at least you’ll be comfortable floating in the pool or at the beach.

Find It: Amazon

11. GRIDDLER DELUXE; $111

Cuisinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: If you’re looking for some serious panini power, this griddler offers up a versatile lineup of six cooking options in one. And with dual-zone functions you can sling burgers while searing filets and sautéeing vegetables all at the same time.

Find It: Amazon

12. VINTAGE SNOW CONE MAKER; $30

Vintage Snow Cone Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: With its old-timey design, dual cone shelf, and endless flavor options, this snow cone maker is guaranteed create a cool treat.

Find It: Amazon

13. DACHSHUND CORN ON THE COB HOLDERS; $7

Dog Corn Holders
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: While meat-lovers will inevitably scarf down a lot of hot dogs this summer, vegetarians who happen to love another kind of dog will be smitten with these stainless steel, Dachshund-shaped corn on the cob prongs. They’re a fun spin on a summer grilling favorite.

Find It: Amazon

14. ICE CREAM SANDWICH MAKER; $16

Ice Cream Sandwich Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Four sandwiches are better than one, especially when they're of the ice cream variety. Make four ice cream sandwiches at once with this homemade spin on a classic cold treat.

Find It: Amazon

15. UE WONDERBOOM; $68

Bluetooth speaker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Besides delicious food and great company, some memorable tunes are required for the quintessential barbeque. This portable bluetooth speaker offers up some booming sound in a small package, and with a battery power of 10 hours on a single charge you can keep the party going all night.

Find It: Amazon

16. ROLLORS GAME; $38

Rollors Backyard Game
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When you’re sick of bocce, hate horseshoes, and you’re over cornhole, you might want to take up “rollors,” a family-friendly game that combines your favorite traditional backyard festivities into one game for people of all ages.

Find It: Amazon

17. HAMMOCK; $174

hammock
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Rest easy knowing that this 100 percent hand-woven and hand-dyed cotton hammock contributes to artisan job-creation in Thailand.

Find It: Amazon

18. VSSL SURVIVAL ESSENTIALS; $59

Emergency Survival Tent Outdoors
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Compact, convenient, and durable, the VSSL Shelter can come in handy when things don’t go quite as planned. The device—which features a lightweight emergency shelter all within the handle of a compact, weather-resistant aluminum LED flashlight—is designed to keep you safe under the worst conditions.

Find It: Amazon

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