10 Childhood After-School Snacks, And How to Recreate Them as a Grown-Up

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September always makes me get all nostalgic, even though it’s been many a year since I got to partake in the whole back-to-school thing. But even though we’ve covered everything from our favorite school supplies to the overall best parts about going back to school, you know what we haven’t looked at so far? Snacks. After-school snacks were one of the highlights of any kid’s day (or maybe that’s just me, but whatever), because let’s face it: When you get off the bus after a long day of learning, you’re going to need a little energy boost. It occurs to me in retrospect that a lot of the things we used to eat for that energy boost may not have been the healthiest options we could have picked… but I guess hindsight is 20-20. Or something.

Anyway, just because you’re a grown-up now doesn’t mean you can’t still indulge in them every now and again. In fact, now that you’re older, you can go ahead and take them to the next level. So for Throwback Thursday this week, let’s take a walk down a gustatory memory lane — and then take a look at how we can put a gourmet twist on the snacks of our youths!

1. Twinkies

Brown Eyed Baker

Not the most nutritionally sound of snack choices, but always exciting when they were available. Brown Eyed Baker’s DIY version is as easy as baking gets — and you don’t even need a fancy pan to do it. Oh, and if Twinkies aren’t your jam, you might try these homemade Hostess Cupcakes instead (Crumbs isn’t the only one who can take ‘em to the next level!).

2. Uncrustables

The Kitchen

Confession: I’ve never actually eaten an Uncrustable. Something about them just never appealed to me. But you know what? That doesn’t matter, because these Whole Wheat Double Peanut Butter & Jelly Pockets from The Kitchn blow them totally out of the water. Who doesn’t love a fresh, warm pocket pie?

3. Shark Bites

Kirbie's Cravings

Or your fruit snack of choice. They weren’t terribly filling, but who can resist a packet of Gushers? No one. That’s who. Happily, though, Kirbie’s Cravings has you covered with this surprisingly easy fruit snack recipe. Make ‘em into whatever shape you like best and go ahead and play with your food.

4. Cheese and Crackers

Joy the Baker

Ah, Handi-Snacks! That little red stick! That well full of processed, cheese-like spread! Such a classic! Needless to say, adult palates aren’t quite as wowed by this iconic childhood snack as our younger selves were. Who cares, though? When you’ve got an amazing block of smoked Gouda and Joy the Baker’s Sea Salt and Poppy Seed Crackers on hand, you don’t need Kraft.

5. YoCrunch

Love and Lemons

YoCrunch was sort of like Dannon Sprinklins' older, hipper cousin… but although you could get them with granola as your mix-in, let’s face it: We all went for the crumbled-up Oreos or the mini M&Ms. Given that boxed granola isn’t usually that great for you, it may not have made that much of a difference in the long run — but you know what I learned recently? That granola isn’t actually that hard to make. Plus, when you make it yourself, you know exactly what’s in it — no mystery ingredients.

For the DIY version, give Love and Lemons’ Maple Walnut Granola Parfaits a try. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can make your own yogurt courtesy of Brown Eyed Baker — but I would understand if you just open up a container of Chobani and throw your granola on top. It’s what I do, too. I don’t judge.

6. Rice Krispie Treats

Bakerella

I remember being so, so jealous of the kids who got Rice Krispie Treats in their lunches every day — but at least I could always make ‘em at home if I really felt like it. Had eight-year-old me known what cookie butter was, I’m sure she would have gone bananas for Bakerella’s Brown Butter and Biscoff Crispy Treat Bars.

7. Chewy Granola Bars

How Sweet It Is

Quaker’s granola bars never quite did it for me — I was more of a Nature’s Valley kind of girl — but if you miss the glory of sinking your teeth into a chewy lump of peanut butter and chocolate goodness, you’re going to love these Five-Ingredient Peanut Butter Granola Bars from How Sweet It Is. Feel free to throw in whatever add-ins you want — they can be as healthy or as sinful as you like.

8. An Apple

What’s Cooking, Love?

Sometimes, all you really needed after school was a good ol’ fashioned apple. But now that you’re a grown-up, let’s dress it up a little: Presentation is key, so start by coring and slicing it; then arrange the slices on a plate with a little bowl of Salted Caramel Chocolate Dip from What’s Cooking, Love?. Your taste buds will thank you.

9. Bagel Bites

When the pizza’s on a bagel, you can eat pizza anytime, right? Bagel Bites are so easy to recreate that you don’t even need a recipe. Here’s my very own, incredibly imprecise method:

Set your toaster oven to the “bake” setting and preheat it to somewhere in the 400 to 450 degree. Then, slice your bagel if it’s fresh — or thaw it by nuking it in the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds if it’s frozen, then slice it. Stick the bagels halves sliced side up on your toaster oven’s baking tray. Spoon something tomato-based over the halves, follow it up with the cheese of your choice, and then pop it in the now-hot toaster oven. Watch it until the edges are browned and the cheese is all bubbly. Voila! Bagel pizza.

As is the case with all pizzas, the topping combinations you can dream up are endless: Try marinara sauce, mozzarella, and a chiffonade of fresh basil for a bagel margherita; salsa with taco cheese makes a Tex Mex version; and so on. Get creative.

10. Capri Sun

Table for Two

You've got to wash those snacks down with something! Did anyone else have a hell of a time trying to open these when they younger? No matter how hard I tried, all I ever seemed to be capable of was sticking the straw straight through the bag. But you know what? We don’t need juice boxes anymore. We’re adults. We’re legal drinking age. We’re breaking out the Strawberry Mojitos, courtesy of Table for Two. Heck yes.