Even if you manage to eat a square three meals a day, there comes a point at say, three in the afternoon, where your stomach is going to get a little rumbly, and you’re in danger of becoming hangry. What comes to save the day? A snack! But what happens if the tidbit you reach for turns out to be forbidden fruit? The following is a list of yummy snacks, both savory and sweet, that have been unceremoniously banned in various locations. To find out why, read on!
10 Flamin’ Hot Cheetos
Cheetos have been a lunchbox food for many kids since they were introduced over half a century ago, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that the Flamin’ Hot variety would grace cafeterias, for better or worse. Though undeniably tasty, the popular spicy snack was banned in several school districts in New Mexico, California, and Illinois because of its lack of nutritional value, and, reportedly, because of an unintended side effect that might have panicked parents. Because of a high amount of red dye in Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, they turn the stools of those who eat large amounts a disturbing red or orange color, causing unnecessary trips to the ER from freaked out caregivers duped into believing there is a genuine medical emergency.
9 Kinder Eggs
Ferraro, an Italian brand, is the manufacturer of a notorious snack officially called “Kinder Surprise,” but more often referred to as “Kinder Eggs.” The original Kinder Eggs were made out of a milk chocolate and cream shell, inside of which is a plastic container. Inside of the container is a small toy, one that often comes in several pieces requiring assembly. Children love the unique combination of candy and plaything, while adult collectors might bin the chocolate and keep the toy, but the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Administration (FDA) in the United States was decidedly unimpressed. Though Kinder Eggs were permitted for import into Mexico and Canada, they were banned in the US. Why? Because it is illegal for candy to contain a “non-nutritive object,” in this case, a toy. The rules further stipulate that “the sale of any candy that has embedded in it a toy or trinket” is forbidden due to concerns over the choking hazard. However, in mid-2017, the “Kinder Joy” did become available in the US, as that product packages the chocolate and the “surprise” separately.
8 Chocolate Milk
In late 2019, Tempe Elementary School District in Arizona banned a seemingly innocent snack from their lunchrooms: chocolate milk. In doing so, they joined Washington, D.C., Rochester, NY, Minnesota, and San Francisco, who had already forbidden the treat. In Tempe’s case, the ban was part of a larger initiative to cut down on the amount of added sugars and high-fructose corn syrup consumed by the students. Though the Arizona chocolate milk kibosh was not met with any substantial complaining by parents or students (or so it was reported), the situation was very different for the New York City Department of Education, also mulling a ruling against flavored milk products at the time. Several New York congress members voiced concerns that the ban would hurt dairy farmers.
7 “French” Fries
In a move that immediately became a staple of drive-time DJ conversation and late-night punchlines, Rep. Bob Ney, an Ohio Republican who was, at the time, the chair of the committee on administration for the House of Representatives, banned, not a snack itself, but its name. “French” fries (and also toast!) were not to be sold or consumed in the House cafeteria, but “Freedom” fries were a-okay. This was, of course, for symbolic, political reasons, as France refused to support a war in Iraq post September 11th, and Ney felt that eating “French” fries was therefore un-American. As ridiculous as this sounds, he did have precedent. During World War I, German names were a no-go in the United States, including sauerkraut (re-Christened “liberty cabbage”) and German measles (“liberty measles.”) Of course, at that time, Germany was an American enemy while, in 2003, France remained an American ally, but regardless, there were no “French” fries in the House until August of 2006, when the name was changed back without fanfare.
6 British Cadbury Chocolate
Many Cadbury chocolate devotees are puzzled when they buy the snack in the United States, noting that the flavor is markedly different from the “real” British Cadbury bars they’re familiar with. These folks are not imagining things: chocolate giant Hershey owns the rights to make and market Cadbury bars in the US, but it uses a different recipe than across the pond. The main deviation is the first ingredient: milk in the U.K. version, sugar in the American. The English chocolate also has a higher fat content and no preservatives. Hershey’s bans the sale of British-made Cadbury chocolate in the United States, and is aggressive about defending their turf, even suing small shops who try to get away with selling the imported stuff. Though Hershey isn’t a regulatory agency, it does reserve the right to crack down hard on its licensing agreements, which means that, unfortunately for Anglophiles, it has the authority to try and stop the sale of the British products on American soil.
Has there ever been a more cheerful snack than a cupcake, particularly a birthday cupcake, covered in icing and sprinkles? Maybe not, but that didn’t stop Northshore Elementary School in Knox County, Tennessee, from banning them in 2016. A note was sent home to parents that made bringing in cupcakes for birthdays or other special occasions or events majorly taboo. In fact, Principal Brandon Pratt acted as the food police for anything the kids brought from home, insisting that the food meet strict calorie, sodium, sugar, and fat guidelines. When defending his rules, in addition to health concerns, Pratt cited a traumatizing incident from his first year in charge where a student ate a piece of candy and was sent into anaphylactic shock due to an allergy. The culture of the school has changed somewhat since the guidelines went into place, for example, on Valentine’s day, students are encouraged to exchange small items like stationary supplies, and not the more traditional candy.
Most of the snack bans on this list are US in origin, but this one is a little different in more ways than one. Police ordered a specific McDonalds in Edinburgh, Scotland to cease selling milkshakes for a day. This was due to their location, as the fast-food joint was near the site of an event to be attended by Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage. Protesters had been known to attack people they don’t agree with by dousing them with the melted ice cream drink. It became a full-fledged movement after a 2019 video depicting an individual lobbing a McDonald’s milkshake at Tommy Robinson, a British political campaigner (who would suffer a repeat incident just a few days later) went viral. More targeted milkshake missile attacks struck fear into law enforcement officials, ending in the restaurant near the Farage event hanging a sign on the door that read: “We will not be selling milkshakes or ice creams tonight. This is due to a police request given recent events.”
It was actually due to the ban on this snack that another rose to fame: soda. In the late 1800s into the early 1900s “Blue Laws” were passed in many states. Blue Laws are religious in nature and restrict anything that might be considered pleasurable enough to be “sinful”. The sale of liquor on Sundays was a major one, but another was a ban on “sucking sodas” on the Sabbath. Why is not entirely clear, but probably had something to do with young people congregating at soda shops. These snack counters dealt in root beer floats and ice cream sodas, which were made from a soda base with ice cream floating on top. Suddenly the shop owners needed a new, legal, treat to peddle on Sundays, and so they swapped the soda for syrup and the Ice Cream Sunday was born. Interestingly, the spelling changed at some point from “Sunday” to “Sundae” which was possibly a nod to the fact that, by then, they were just as popular as the sodas and sold on every day of the week.
Pizza is a snack that can be a meal, depending on if you’re going by the slice or the pie. No matter what you want to call it, for the residents of San Vitaliano, a small town in Italy, it simply became a problem. In 2015, the tiny town was being choked by smog at levels more often seen in large cities. The surprising culprit was determined to be wood-burning ovens used to fire pizzas. Businesses in the town were banned from using the ovens unless they were fitted with a special filter. PIzza makers in San Vitaliano were understandably angry, claiming that their pies were not to blame for the air pollution. Mount Vesuvius, a largely dormant (but not extinct) volcano does sit less than 20 miles from San Vitaliano, so it’s possible they had a point.
It seems crazy to think of enjoying a movie on the big screen without the constant soundtrack of folks munching on popcorn, but at one point, the snack was banned at movie theaters. When cinemas first opened, they screened silent films, which required a higher level of literacy and attracted more sophisticated audiences who often dressed and behaved as if they were going to a traditional theater. The movie houses themselves reflected this, with expensive furnishings, including plush carpets that owners did not want food ground into, hence the ban on popcorn. With the invention of “talkies” movie-going culture changed, and so did the theaters themselves. Owners realized they could make a huge profit selling popcorn in their lobbies and so we will now forever associate the buttery snack with our favorite movies.
About The Author: A.L. Montone is a teacher, playwright, and magician in Baltimore area.