Jell-O Pudding Pops were a staple in the 80s, and many people who were kids at this time loved this really delicious, cold snack. The advertising campaign was spearheaded by promotions featuring Bill Cosby dressed up like an ice cream man handing pudding pops to kids. Lighthearted and fun, these snack commercials helped to make Jell-O pudding pops a huge hit. Advertised as “frozen pudding on a stick” this was a treat that many kids in the 80s couldn’t get enough of.
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Jell-O Pudding Pops were just one of many really cool and exciting cold treats that were really popular in the 80s. This was a time when the ice cream truck still probably came through nearly every neighborhood around the US, and kids were still really excited about ice cream and popsicles. While snacking has changed a lot since then, and Jell-O Pudding Pops have gone off the market, there is something to be said for simpler times and simpler snacks that some of us might have missed out on.
Jell-O Pudding Pops History
Jell-O Pudding Pops were first sold in Baton Rouge, LA, in the 1970s. It is often hot in the summer in this region, and the Pudding Pops product was a huge hit with people of all ages. The treat did not become as popular universally until the 1980s when the aforementioned promotions with Bill Cosby started being shown on TV all across the US. What’s interesting about the Pudding Pop story is that they actually sold well all the way until they were pulled from shelves in the 90s. The Jell-O brand was still losing money making them at this time, and they decided not to continue to create snacks that were selling for a loss.
Unlike other Jell-O products that had to be made at home, these were the first products that Jell-O had offered that were premade. You simply bought a box of your favorite variety at the store and brought them home to be kept in the freezer. This was a big shift for Jell-O as a brand, and it was ultimately what would cause the demise of the frozen treat despite its success as a product. This was the one product that Jell-O sold in the cold food space, and the one product that they sold that was premade. This meant that they were really not equipped to make a profit in this space.
Jell-O Gelatin Pops were a companion product that was sold at the same time, and these products also suffered from the same fate. These were the fruity version of the pudding pop, and they were also premade and offered in boxes that you just grab from the freezer at the grocery store. The Gelatin Pops product was advertised as something of a diet product because they truly didn’t have many calories compared to the chocolatey pudding pop version of the same treat. Both products were advertised based on their calorie content in many of the ads that were first circulated to promote them in the 80s.
Between the ads which appealed to the sense of fun about the Pudding Pop product and ads that said that the gelatin products were health-conscious for both adults and kids, there was a sense that these were the only “healthy” ice cream adjacent products on the market at the time. Many people felt that Jell-O was something of a diet food during this period already, which paved the way for the idea that you could snack on as many of the Pudding Pop or Gelatin Pop products as you wished without gaining any weight.
There was a brief moment when the Jell-O Pudding Pop made its way back onto the shelves of stores in 2004. They were reintroduced via licensing under the brand name Popsicle. The product had changed, however, and enthusiasts of the original product were not fans of the new and dubiously improved product. By 2011, they were being pulled from shelves nationwide.
The original Jell-O Pudding Pops products came in variety packs. You would get chocolate, vanilla, and chocolate vanilla swirl in each pack. The swirl products are the ones that many people remember with fondness as they offered the best of both kinds of the other two varieties.
One of the other benefits, or at least the state benefits, of these popsicle-style products was that they were pretty healthy. This was a General Foods product in the 80s, and the company was trying to be sure that they were making products that were healthy for kids to consume. This meant that moms felt okay about having their kids consume these fudgy, chocolatey treats all year long, and they didn’t stop kids from going back for seconds.
Times have changed in the snacking and the cold foods market, however, and when the product came back onto the shelves of stores around the US, people’s tastes had changed. Chocolate treats are no longer revolutionary in any way, and the concept of a simple chocolate bar that is frozen is just not that appealing to kids anymore. The original “healthy” recipe also had to change, and the shape was changed to fit the Popsicle brand manufacturing processes.
Like many relaunched products, the times are different, and the market is different, so the snack is just not the same. Without the support of a well-known character like Bill Cosby and with parents being worried about the amount of sugar that their kids are consuming each day, fudgesicles and other treats of this ilk are just not as successful as they once were.
For kids from the 80s, when it was not known just how bad excessive amounts of sugar can be for the body, sugary snacks were everywhere. Jell-O Pudding Pops probably seemed like health food compared to the candy bars, sugary drinks, and real sugar products that lined the shelves of stores across the US. Cereal brands and various other companies who made products specifically targeted at kids were forced to change the sugar content of their products in the late 90s, and Jell-O Pudding Pops would have been forced to make the same tough changes if they had still been sold when the crackdown first took place.
While you can’t get a hold of these iconic snacks anymore at the store, there are various copycat recipes that will help you to make your own Jell-O Pudding Pops at home if you wish. You can simply buy some popsicle molds and follow the many different versions of the recipe for this yummy cold treat. There is something that is really fun about making your own popsicles anyway, and lovers of Jell-O Pudding Pops have embraced this new way to enjoy their favorite chocolatey snack from their childhood.
Jell-O Pudding Pops Logo
Jell-O Pudding Pops Ingredients
Many images of the boxes from the original Pudding Pops cartons exist, so we can still see what was in the original product itself. From a listing for a copycat recipe for the pudding-based treat, you can find that the recipe for the original product was:
- Nonfat milk
- Corn syrup
- Hydrogenated coconut oil
- Hydrogenated palm oil
- High fructose corn syrup
- Cocoa (processed with alkali)
- Modified food starch
- Mono & diglycerides
- Locust bean gum
- Xantham gum
- Tricalcium phosphate
- Natural and artificial flavor
- Yellow #5
You can see clearly when you loo kat this recipe why the product was not the same when it was rebranded and sold again in the early 2000s. Like many products that were made with hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup, the crackdown on “healthy” kid’s snacks made these ingredients impossible to use in newer or reimagined products. This often greatly impacts the texture and flavor of treats like this, making them very different when they are made using healthier ingredients.
During the time period when these treats were the most popular, the concept of calorie counting was considered to be more important than the idea of reducing contact with sugars of various kinds. It was the era before the realization that hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup were bad for your health as well. There were many products that were made with these ingredients that were “diet” or “low-calorie” products that were nevertheless not good for your well-being.
During the peak of the popularity of the snack, the company highlighted that there was “25% less sugar” in these pudding pops than in equivalent fruit bars that were on the market. They also made much of the fact that skim milk was used in many of the flavor varieties. These were the things that made parents believe in the healthy nature of this treat, and many kids in the 80s benefitted from the concept that unlimited snacking on certain items was not at all bad for your health.
Jell-O Pudding Pops Nutrition
|1 Pop (105g)
|% Daily Value*
|Amount Per Serving
- The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Jell-O Pudding Pops Varieties
- Chocolate and Vanilla Swirl
- Peanut Butter Chocolate
Pictures of Jell-O Pudding Pops
Jell-O Pudding Pops Ads:
A Bill Cosby ad where he appears as an ice cream man:
A kitty cat ad with Bill Cosby:
My name is Brianna and I love writing on all topics. Candy history fascinates me and I am passionate about sharing my love of this topic with everyone else!
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