If you’re of a certain age, Dunkaroos were
at the top of the cafeteria lunch dessert food chain. But fast forward to the present, and they
haven’t just faded into childhood memories, they’ve also faded off grocery store shelves. Here’s why. Dunkaroos first showed up in the lunch boxes
of American schoolchildren in 1988. Their heyday was in the 90’s, and their surge
in popularity was helped along by commercials featuring a very energetic kangaroo. They were huge throughout the decade, and
held onto a devoted following into the 2000s. But they started to become harder and harder
to find even before U.S. production was halted in 2012. When a fan asked Betty Crocker why sales were
discontinued, a representative responded, “There are many factors that go into the decision
to discontinue a product and we regret that you’re disappointed with the discontinuation
of Dunkaroos.” It seems that the biggest factor was that
Dunkaroos were holding onto an increasingly small market share thanks mostly to nostalgia
alone. And no amount of nostalgia counts when it’s
up against a slow but steady decline in sales and mainstream popularity. A huge part of Dunkaroos’ popularity had to
do with their kangaroo mascots. The original one was named Sydney, but that
changed in 1996, when a competition resulted in the more sporty Duncan. But here’s the thing: both Sydney and Duncan
were clearly targeting kids, and their commercials were airing at a time when organizations like
the FTC were paying close attention to what kind of messages were being beamed toward
those impressionable little minds. There was a lot of talk about just how commercials
advertising high-sugar, high-fat foods were contributing to childhood obesity. Even though campaigns to remove these ads
were less than successful, it was still a conversation likely to stick in parents’ heads. Consider Dunkaroos’ north-of-the-border saga. They were discontinued in Canada in 2018,
not long after regulations took effect in 2015 that established new restrictions on
advertising unhealthy treats directly to children under 12. Dunkaroos were undoubtedly delicious, but
they were also so, so bad for you. One package of the chocolate chip cookie Dunkaroos
with chocolate frosting had 120 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, and a whopping 13 grams
of sugar, along with absolutely no helpful vitamins and nutrients whatsoever. That might not sound like too much, but the
American Heart Association guidelines for kids say otherwise. The AHA repeatedly stresses that added sugars
are a serious problem, recommending that kids between 2 and 18 should have less than 25
grams of sugar per day. That little pack of Dunkaroos contains more
than half their daily recommended sugar intake, and given how many other places sugar is hiding,
that’s far from a healthy snack. Dunkaroos presented a huge image problem for
General Mills. When the Canadian branch of the company agreed
to restrict its children’s advertising campaign to promote only products that fell within
healthy guidelines, Dunkaroos had to go. And besides, by the time that initiative rolled
around in 2014, it had already been about 10 years since they had spent any money marketing
Dunkaroos anyway. But the company did invest in one last-ditch
effort to save the product. Dunkaroos had been discontinued in the U.S.
for a few years at this point, and General Mills was well aware of the fact that some
particularly devoted fans were heading up to Canada to get their Dunkaroos fix. So they decided to encourage it with their
“Smugglaroos” campaign. Targeted at adults, it involved a website
where Canadians willing to buy Dunkaroos and take them to their American neighbors could
sign up to find a south-of-the-border buddy-in-need. The idea was to save Dunkaroos and create
some serious buzz, but unfortunately, it didn’t seem to have the desired effect. General Mills has said they’re not going to
be bringing Dunkaroos back, but buried in the depths of the internet is something strange. On September 17, 2018, a company called Retrobrands
USA LLC filed for a Dunkaroos trademark. It was described under the heading of “Cereal-based
snack foods,” and that seemed to at least have the potential to be a shining beacon
of hope for Dunkaroos fans everywhere. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the
application to be put on hold. In April 2019, Bloomberg reported that General
Mills was taking Retrobrands to court for breach of contract over its trademark filing. The details of the whole thing are a little
vague, but while it seems like General Mills is taking its intellectual property very seriously,
it might also indicate that the company’s not about to let Dunkaroos come back in any
form. Sorry, fans. It’s terrible to be the bearer of bad news,
but look on the bright side: You’ll always have the dunkin’ memories! Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Mashed videos about your favorite
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