They're back. They're back. They're back.

Return Of An Old Friend.

You might've heard the rumors -- here's the confirmation. Jell-O Pudding Pops, once the kings of the freezer section, have returned under the Popsicle brand umbrella. Though a relatively meaningless addition for most, those who watched Bill Cosby usher in the yumsticks during extensive television campaigns during the 80s know just how important this resurgence is. No longer must we debate which kind of frozen ice, ice cream or yogurt rod to choose from: so long as Jell-O Pudding Pops remain on the shelves, they are the perennial #1 pick.

Since the advent of the Internet, fans of the most unassuming things have found a way to band together for a common cause. It's been no different in the Pudding Pops' case: long lamented on blogs, forums and sites about prehistoric chocolate, the deliciously deadly snacks have even been the focus of well-organized petitions signed by the likes of Inigo Montoya and babylovah422. The suits at Jell-O Castle stayed mostly hush-hush throughout the ardent protests, never once showing their chocolate stained hand. To the average Joe, this couldn't have seemed like a cause worth fighting for. Bringing gone-for-a-decade ice pops back from dormancy is something even the governments of small island nations couldn't handle, and why should we have any better luck?

Well, it's hard to say if the Pudding Pops' return was a matter of convenience or the direct result of whining junk food hunters, but the goal was met regardless: Jell-O Pudding Pops are back, and arguably, they're this close to being the same as they always were.

For those unfamiliar with the assortment, Jell-O Pudding Pops arrive in a variety pack consisting of ten pops; a mostly even split between "Vanilla," "Chocolate" and "Chocolate & Vanilla Swirl." It's the latter variety that truly afforded these pops such notoriety. While most of the population have stubborn preferences between vanilla and chocolate, few can resist the charms of the almighty swirly pop. For many, it's the Chocolate & Vanilla Swirl that's kept the pops' memory alive for all of these centuries, and had Jell-O brought 'em back without that third flavor, protests would've grown from a cheery disposition to an outright anarchic process. It would've been a slap in the face to fans, to Bill Cosby, to any fruit of a mixed marriage, and especially to me personally because I do so love how the opposite colors do mix so fantastically. To Jell-O's credit, they didn't skimp: the Chocolate & Vanilla Swirl lives on, and it's the freakiest fucking flavor explosion OF ALL TIME.

What Remains To Be Seen?

They're back, yes they are. I wouldn't say that they're exactly the same as they once were, but the changes are mostly negligible. Just a bit softer and trimmer is all. The only point left to conquer is one I can't report on until a few more days pass. The unspoken legacy of Jell-O Pudding Pops lied not in its flavor or even the swirl, but rather its ability to turn the longtime archenemy of frozen foods -- freezer burn -- into something so perfectly inviting. Indeed, no Jell-O Pudding Pop feels complete without the requisite amount of crunchy, odorless ice mold; the addition somehow makes the pops even more glorious. Aiding to form a surrogate "shell" around the soft molded pudding, freezer burn is credited for turning an otherwise "just okay" dessert into something children have been known to battle over with swords, maces and water guns.

I've cranked the freezer temperature up. In a few days, I'll know for sure if the neo-pops really have what it takes to inspire former Double Dare host Marc Summers to devote an entire episode of whatever that show he has on the Food Network to their return. I've seen him do whole episodes on circus peanuts, so this distinction isn't a pudding pipe dream.

The Short Version Second So You Have To Read The Long Version.

Jell-O Pudding Pops are back. Get 'em while you can. Junk food is rarely graced with anything more than a single sequel. If they die out now, they may never return.

Because This Article Isn't Long Enough And I Need To Fill It Out.

Tunnel Rat: Wuh oh. Houston, we have a problem. There's only two Pudding Pops left.

Donatello: So what? Why, were you planning on having two for yourself?

Tunnel Rat: It's not that. The only two left are a Chocolate & Vanilla Swirl, and a plain old regular shitty stupid nobody-wants-it piece of crap Vanilla. Who gets the swirly??


Tunnel Rat: Look at you! You're pathetic! Besides, I have the solution.

Donatello: You do? You're going to give me the swirly??

Tunnel Rat: Pathetic!

Tunnel Rat: We'll flip "Big John Studd" for it. If we see his head when he lands, you get the swirl pop. If it lands ass-up, that baby's all mine.

Donatello: Fair enough. But let me toss him...I've seen your work.

Donatello: Oh for the love of Christ. I can't believe I lost at my own patented specialty, the "Big John Studd Toss."

Tunnel Rat: Everybody has their off days. How's the vanilla, anyway?

Donatello: Actually, it's not so bad. Can't even tell much of a difference, really. I guess it just doesn't look as interesting, y'know?

Tunnel Rat: I hear you. This swirly pop's so pretty, I almost hate eating it.

Donatello: I almost hate you.

Mikey: YOU GOD DAMNED ASSHOLES! You ate all my Pudding Pops?!!

Tunnel Rat: We did. To be honest, we'd do it again. They're that good.

Mikey: How could you do this?! I've been looking forward to these all week! Do you know how hard it is for me to even go to the supermarket? It's a hundred degrees out -- I'm not wearing that fucking trenchcoat now!

Tunnel Rat: Something tells me we've underestimated your profound obsession with Jell-O Pudding Pops. Perhaps you should draw up a list of foods that will cause you to go absolutely insane should we eat them first.

Donatello: I wish I got to say things like that.

Tunnel Rat: ...but don't be so upset, man. Look at what we made you! We used the sticks to give you your very own giant "M" initial! It's like a wall-hanging! A tapestry of wood!

Donatello: That was my idea, Mikey.

Mikey: How do you expect that ugly piece of trash to make up for what you've done?!

Tunnel Rat: What? Come on! The M stands for Michaelangelo!

The W stands for WAR.



-- Matt (6/18/2004)

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