20 Popular American Snacks That Are Way Older Than You Think

Vintage American Snacks Cover

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Bet You Can’t Eat Just One

We love our snacks. Our cravings for munchies fueled $186 billion in sales last year, according to trade association SNAC International (yeah, they really nailed it with that acroynm). As it turns out, when we find something we like, our interest in them never goes stale despite some being on the market for more than a century.

See if your favorite snack is among these popular historic snacks that are probably way older than you thought.

National Biscuit Company Graham Crackers Advertisement, an Illustration of Two Children with Boxes of the Company's Graham Crackers, 1912
Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

Graham Crackers: Early 1800s

If you’ve only encountered Graham crackers paired with a tall glass of milk or wrapped around chocolate and melty marshmallows, here’s a shocker: Snopes says the original bland crackers made of “coarsely ground wheat flour” and little else (a far cry from today’s honey-sweetened versions) were the brainchild of Presbyterian minister Sylvester Graham.

They were part of Graham’s “strict vegetarian diet” that he thought “would aid in suppressing carnal urges.” Interesting theory. He also thought mustard and ketchup caused insanity.

Black and White Vintage Image of a Little Girl Sitting on a Park Bench, Looking a Box of Animal Crackers About to Give a Monkey Sitting on Her Right Side an Animal Cracker
Harold M. Lambert/Getty Images

Animal Crackers: 1871

When Shirley Temple sang about how much fun she had “swallowing animals one by one” in the 1935 film “Curley Top,” she was probably referring to the version of these treats originally produced by the Stauffer Biscuit Company of York, Pennsylvania, in 1871. Nabisco still makes them, but most people of a certain age will remember them as a treat that came in a box with images of ferocious animals caged in a circus wagon.

Nabisco Fig Newtons Cookies Vintage Ad, Opened Rectangular Bag of Fig Newtons with Them Spilled Out, Surrounded By Three Figs, 1966

Fig Newtons: 1891

Not much has changed with Nabisco’s square chewy cookie since their introduction in 1891, says The New York Times, though somewhere along the line the word “Fig” was dropped from the name — probably because it was later produced with strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry fillings. And, no, they have nothing to do with Sir Issac Newtown. They’re named for Newton, Massachusetts, near where they were first produced in Cambridge.

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Black and White Advertisement for Jell-O By the Genesee Pure Food Company in Le Roy, New York, a Little Girl is Making Jell-O with the Caption 'A Child Can Prepare It', 1903
Jay Paull/Getty Images

Jell-O: 1897

Pearle Wait, a carpenter who “was developing a cough remedy and laxative tea in his home” in LeRoy, New York, instead discovered a fruit-flavored gelatine dessert, which his wife named JELL-O, according to the JELL-O Gallery website. When Wait struggled to market the product, he sold the rights for $450 and the dessert icon soon became a hit for the Genesee Pure Food Company, which posted sales of more than $1 million in 1909. It continues to be manufactured by Kraft Foods today.

Related: 20 Things You Didn’t Know About Jell-O

Page Taken From a Planters' Peanut Coloring Book Showing the Company's Advertising Mascot Mr. Peanut Visiting China, 1930s
Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

Planters Peanuts: 1906

When the Planters Peanut Company began in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in 1906, its founders couldn’t have imagined the success that would follow them and their iconic mascot, Mr. Peanut. Nor could they have imagined the top-hatted legume’s disturbing death in a Super Bowl commercial, his subsequent funeral where he was reborn, or his celebrity “roast” featuring Jeff Ross.

Related: We Tried 25 Types of Peanut Butter and This Is the Best

One Hershey's Kiss Wrapped in Silver Foil, Little Top Flag Is Pointed to the Left

Hershey’s Kisses: 1907

Following the success of Hershey’s cocoa (1894) and milk chocolate bars (1900), Hershey’s Kisses were introduced in 1907, according to the company.

They were continuously produced from 1907 to 1942 when rationing of aluminum during World War II forced a pause until 1947. During that time, “Hershey retooled its Kisses production equipment in order to produce chocolate D-Rations for the U.S. military,” the company says. Some 70 million are made daily now.

Related: Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About Hershey’s Kisses

Vintage Nabisco Oreos Billboard Ad Surrounded By Parked Cars, Two Girls Eating Oreos While Watching TV with Oreos on the TV Screen, 1950s
Gary Leonard/Corbis via Getty Images

Oreos: 1912

It may be the best, but it wasn’t the first chocolate sandwich cookie with cream in the middle. That was the Hydrox, which went on sale in 1908. Nevertheless, it’s been the world’s favorite for years with a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for more than 500 billion sold since its introduction by the National Biscuit Company, now Nabisco. “If every Oreo ever made were to be stacked on top of each other, the pile would reach to the Moon and back more than six times,” says Guinness.

Related: Why Oreos Will Survive the Apocalypse and Other Weird Company Secrets

Vintage Life Savers Advertisement, Woman Dressed in a Coat, Holding the Original Peppermint Life Savers, Surrounded By Whirling Individual Life Savers, 1918
Jay Paull/Getty Images

Life Savers: 1912

Cleveland, Ohio, chocolate maker Clarence Crane originated a flat peppermint candy with a hole in the center as something he could sell during the summer when chocolate sales dipped due to the heat. But he didn’t stay in the Life Saver business very long. A year later, he trademarked the confection and sold the rights for $2,900 (about $93,000 today), according to ThoughtCo. Mars now manufactures the candy in a wide variety of flavors and styles.

Related: The Forgotten History Behind Your Favorite Candies

Vintage Hostess CupCakes Advertisement, 'Have a Cup Cake' Above an Image of Six Hostess CupCakes, 1929

Hostess CupCakes: 1919

When Continental Baking decided to launch a line of treats to build on its popular bread offerings, the result was the original Hostess CupCake — sans the decorative icing or filling, which came later, according to the Hostess website. Their success led to the iconic Twinkies brand in 1930, SnoBalls in 1950, and HoHos in 1970.

Related: I Tried 20 Little Debbie Snacks — This Is the Best

Curtis Candy Company's Baby Ruth Candy Bar Ad, a Couple Sitting in the Bleachers Enjoying a College Football Game, the Woman is Standing Up Holding a Baby Ruth Candy Bar Looking Excitedly At the Male, 1927
Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

Baby Ruth: 1921

When the Curtiss Candy Company revamped its Kandy Kake confection in 1921, the new combination of peanuts, caramel, and nougat covered with chocolate was a hit — partly because, at 5 cents, it cost half as much as other candy bars. It notched sales of $1 million a month by 1926, according to History.com, and later became the source of a copyright fight when baseball slugger Babe Ruth tried to launch his own candy line.

Vintage Cheez-Its Advertisement, a Big Box of Cheez-Its with Them Coming Out with Wording, 1947

Cheez-Its: 1921

These one-by-one-inch square cheese crackers were invented in Dayton, Ohio, by the Green & Green cracker company, with a flavor similar to rarebit, “a sort of melted cheddar beer cheese spread over toast,” Brady Kress, president & CEO of Dayton’s Carillon Historical Park, told Smithsonian Magazine. The product has changed owners over the years, but the “Crackin’ Good Combination of Crackers and Cheese,” as it said on an early Cheez-It box, continues to be popular today.

Related: Welsh Rarebit and Other British Foods That Americans Are Missing Out On

Vintage Eskimo Pie Ice Cream 5 Cent Store Window Paper Sign Ad, 1929

Edy’s Pie: 1921

For nearly a century, this chocolate-covered ice cream bar was known as an Eskimo Pie before its current manufacturer, Dreyer’s, decided to move away from the racially insensitive branding. The original bars were created by Christian Kent Nelson who was inspired by “a boy’s indecision in (his) confectionery store in 1920,” says Smithsonian Magazine. The boy couldn’t decide between a chocolate bar and ice cream and couldn’t buy both because he only had a nickel. Nelson figured out how to make melted chocolate stick to ice cream and named his creation the I-Scream Bar. It was rebranded to Eskimo Pie when Nelson partnered with chocolate maker Russell C. Stover.

Vintage Fritos Corn Chips Advertisement, 'Taste Delight' with Fritos Bag in the Middle with Wording, 1949

Fritos: 1932

Charles Elmer Doolin’s Fritos were “inspired by a recipie he purchased from Gustavo Olguin, a Mexican-American restaurant owner in San Antonio, Texas,” according to the National Museum of American History. “Olguin’s ‘fritos’ (the name came from the Spanish word ‘frit’, meaning fried) were small fried corn chips made from masa dough.” The style of chips was a popular beach food in Mexico. Doolin started making them in his mother’s kitchen and sold them from his car. He also invented the Cheeto, says NPR.

Vintage Lay's Potato Chips 1 Lb. Tin Can with Lid, White Can with Red and Blue Lettering and Details, Red Lid

Lay’s Potato Chips: 1934

Herman H. Lay didn’t invent the potato chip, but his salesmanship created the first national brand in the U.S. with sales today that are twice that of its nearest rival. He started a small business in Nashville in 1932 selling another company’s potato chips. Lay later bought that company, put his name on it, and was “the first snack food brand to advertise on television,” says the company’s website. He later teamed up with C.E. Doolin’s company to create Frito-Lay, which is now a division of PepsiCo.

Related: We Tried 16 Kinds of Potato Chips and These Are the Best

Machinery At a Ritz Cracker Packing Facility, with Crackers Pouring Into a Hopper Which Is Then Dispensed Into Each Carton, U.S., Circa 1950
FPG/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Ritz Crackers: 1934

Nabisco rolled out the Ritz cracker in 1934 in an attempt to compete with Sunshine Biscuits’ Hi Ho brand. Sydney Stern, a commercial artist with the company, came up with the iconic name and logo design, and “people came to see the crackers as rich little bites of the good life” during the rough years of the Depression, says Food & Wine Magazine. The brand is now owned by Chicago-based food and beverage conglomerate Mondelēz International. “They’re perfect topped with cheese or peanut butter, in soups, or enjoyed all themselves,” the company says. But you already know that.

Closeup of Peanut M&Ms in a Ceramic Bowl, Dramatic Lighting with Shadow to the Right
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

M&M’s: 1941

Like other candy makers in the days before air conditioning, Forrest Mars Sr. was always on the lookout for a candy that wouldn’t melt in the summer. When he saw British troops “eating small chocolate beads encased in a hard sugar shell” during the Spanish Civil War, he took note,” says History.com. Partnering with Bruce Murrie, the son of a Hershey executive, he began production in Newark, New Jersey, selling exclusively to the U.S. military during World War II. The candy got its “M” stamp in 1950 to thwart copycats.

Related: Everything You Wanted to Know About M&M’s But Were Afraid to Ask

Carton of Goldfish Cheddar Cheese Crackers

Goldfish: 1962

Here’s another great snack that someone stumbled on and was smart enough to mass produce. These little crackers shaped like fish were discovered by Pepperidge Farm founder Margaret Rudkin while she was on vacation in Europe.

A Swiss cookie manufacturer “created them as a birthday present for his wife whose astrological sign was Pisces,” says the Campbell’s website. Today, the company’s bakery in Willard, Ohio, can produce more than 50 million crackers daily. Keep ‘em coming.

Vintage Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts Life Magazine Ad with Coupon, Two Pop-Tarts Popped in a Toaster with One on a White Plate, 1960’s

Pop-Tarts: 1964

Once dubbed the “Fruit Scone,” Kellogg renamed its go-anywhere, “toaster-ready … hack on toast and jam” as the Pop-Tart and launched it in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1964, with nationwide distribution following in 1965, according to the company’s website. The original flavors were strawberry, blueberry, brown sugar cinnamon, and apple-currant. “Since literally no one has ever seen a currant, we dropped that flavor,” the company says. “Years later, it came back as the fan favorite Apple Pop-Tarts.”

Related: The Best Pop-Tarts Flavors, Ranked

Vintage Doritos Salsa Rio Flavor Chips Advertisement, 1989

Doritos: 1966

The Doritos origin story, like many, has more than one version: They were either discovered when Frito-Lay executive Arch West went on vacation or they were a happy accident from Disneyland when Case de Fritos turned tortillas destined for the trash into chips, which Arch then discovered during a trip to the theme park. Either way, West was instrumental in what became a snacking home run. In his obituary in the Washington Post in 2011, his family members planned to “dust his grave with a layer of Doritos.”

Related: 13 of the Best Doritos Flavors, Ranked

1970's Vintage Original Style Pringles Light Potato Chips Can 4.5 oz., Left Hand Holding the Red Can

Pringles: 1968

Don’t call it a potato chip. Pringles are potato crisps, developed as an alternative to chips, “which were often greasy, stale, and broken,” the company says on its website. Fredric Baur started working on the concept in the mid-1950s and came up with their unusual shape. But it was Alexander Liepa who was credited with their creation when it came time to file a patent, the company says. Fun fact: the crisps are “hyperbolic paraboloids.” That’s a mouthful.