The McBournie Minute: Food nostalgia must die

America is the eating champion of the world, and we have been for 72-years straight. No one can eat like us. They don’t even come close. We compete against each other to eat the most hot dogs, pies and other healthy snacks. We have entire TV network dedicated to the cooking and enjoying of food.

We’re also adventurous eaters. As a country, we enjoy more variety of food than any generation before us. No one thinks twice if you say you’re having Vietnamese-Cuban infusion for lunch, and mouths water at “innovations” like waffle tacos or pizza with a Doritos crust. But with all this looking forward in food, we seem to find ourselves looking wistfully at the past.

It’s a terrible trend. Don’t believe me?

Surge
1997. It was a simpler time. Bill Clinton was president, the Spice Girls were popular, and scientists cloned a goat — I think, it was around that time, anyway. And I was entering high school. I was coming to grips with meeting a bunch of new classmates, doing more homework, and trying not to get a boner in the middle of class. On top of all this, I had to get up super early to catch the bus. To deal with this, I drank Surge, a soda from Coca-Cola. I drank a lot of it. It was like another attempt at competing with Mountain Dew, and it tried to be as “extreme” as Dew, and every other teen-oriented product was. Naturally, it lost.

Why it should stay gone: Looking back, Surge kinda tasted like crap. It wasn’t as bad as Red Bull or anything, but a soda isn’t supposed to taste lemon-lime farts. I missed it when it vanished from my school’s vending machines a little more than a year later. But I moved on, and I found other sugary crap to put into my puberty-stricken body. Not everyone did, because an online campaign convinced Coke to bring it back this year. Are there not enough flavors of Mountain Dew for you? If you are old enough to remember what Surge tasted like and wanted this to come back, you need to re-evaluate your life.

French Toast Crunch
I’ve never had this cereal, but it’s my understanding that it lived from 1995 to 2006. I knew its cousin, Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I knew it pretty well during the second half of the 1990s. I slowly backed away from it when the three chef characters on the box and in their ads were reduced to just one. General Mills gave no reason for the disappearance, so I was left to believe that the last remaining chef, the one with white hair, killed the others. And if that were true, it seemed logical that he baked his victims into the cereal. I’d seen Soylent Green. But again, an online campaign convinced the company that cancelled the cereal to bring it back.

Why it should stay gone: According to Wikipedia, French Toast Crunch is a “spin-off” of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. A spin-off. For cereal. That makes FTC the Joey to CTC’s Friends. I’m sure you’re also upset about Boo Berry being cancelled, but move on. There are plenty of other cereals in the sea, and didn’t you hear that no one eats cereal anymore?

Ballantine IPA
Here’s another entry on the list that I’ve never had, but I’m willing to bet that you never have, either. In 1878, John Ballantine and his sons made an IPA in their New Jersey brewery. It sold OK. Eventually, the brewery got bought out, and the recipe got traded around like a baseball card during the 20th century as America’s breweries consolidated into the big beer monoliths we know today. Every time the recipe changed hands, it was changed in some way, and cheaper ingredients were used, and by the 1980s, it was a shadow of its former self. In case you didn’t hear, Pabst brought it back this year.

Why it should stay gone: This is a bad sign for craft beer drinkers, because it means that the bigger breweries have finally realized that America likes IPAs. They’re trying to lure us away from the hop bombs we’ve come to know and love. You know those people who think Shock Top and Blue Moon are craft beers? Pretty soon they’re going to think they know about good IPAs, too. I have nothing against the people at Pabst, but they’re not really known for quality, and if this move works out for them, the bigger big breweries out there will no doubt make the same move. New Ballantine’s isn’t even the same pint of suds that your great-grandfather drank, because no one has the original recipe. So they guessed what it tasted like. If you’re going to bring back a beer no one’s asking for, at least bring it back. Don’t come up with something else, slap the same name on it, and say, “Close enough.”