Sure, when you ponder sweetened popcorn snacks, you might immediately think of the iconic Cracker Jack, the boxed treat that has been forever linked with America’s favorite pastime. But not everyone enjoys peanuts mixed with their popcorn, and in the 60s, a company called Lincoln Snacks introduced a clever and humorous alternative to the beloved Cracker Jack. Given the name, Screaming Yellow Zonkers, it was clear out of the gate that this decidedly different concoction might not be taking themselves all too seriously. That didn’t stop millions from embracing this popcorn treat that dared to be different.
Original packages of Screaming Yellow Zonkers were black, something very unusual in food marketing. Furthermore, they employed the talents of Allan Katz, a noted advertising copywriter and humorist whose later projects would include such television hits as All in the Family, Laugh-In, M*A*S*H and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. In 1970, he was hired by Lincoln Snacks to bring some humor to their packaging, and for his efforts, won numerous awards. Much of what was written on the boxes bordered on the absurd, such as information on how to wash them, or advice on how to tell if the box was upright or not:
“Open the top, and turn the box upside down. If the Zonkers fall out this is the bottom. If they fall up, this is the top. If nothing happens, this box is empty.”
This highly-successful marketing led to Screaming Yellow Zonkers becoming almost the counter-culture equivalent of Cracker Jack, but it was their unique flavor and appearance that kept fans coming back for more. The absence of peanuts and caramel flavoring made them decidedly different, as did their bright yellow coloring and much sweeter flavor.
Sadly, Screaming Yellow Zonkers began disappearing from store shelves in 2007, much to the disappointment of their loyal following. Fans can finally rejoice, however, as boxes of the beloved snack will begin reappearing as of May 15, 2012. Sold exclusively at Walgreens, the returning product features the original packaging and is available in four limited-edition boxes sure to bring back fond memories.
If you have your own recollections of eating Screaming Yellow Zonkers by the fistful, tell us all about it in our comments section, as we tip our hats to a treat that took the road less traveled and won the hearts of millions along the way.