Screaming Yellow Zonkers

Screaming Yellow Zonkers

Sure, when you ponder sweetened popcorn snacks, you might immediately think of the snack with the prize inside that is linked to America’s pastime. But not everyone prefers peanuts mixed with their popcorn. 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 that these guys might not be taking themselves all too seriously. That didn’t stop millions from embracing this 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 had cause for rejoice, however, in 2012, when boxes of the beloved snack began reappearing on the shelves of Walgreen’s stores, who scored an exclusive agreement to distribute the golden treats. Screaming Yellow Zonkers were re-introduced with their original black packaging and are still available in many stores, as well as online, as of this writing. It’s one of those rare happy endings involving a disappeared product that dared to be different … and we couldn’t be happier.

If you have your own fond 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.

14 Responses to “Screaming Yellow Zonkers”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Me says:

    Screaming Yellow Zonkers… I put on quite a few pounds wolfing these down 2-3 boxes at a time. I moved away from an area where they were sold and I just found out today that they are discontinued. So sad… it was GREAT and remains my favorite of all time.

  2. Gina says:

    I had never heard of these until they were referenced to in a Simpsons episode, where they were actually screaming. I didn’t quite get it until I found out more about the snack.

  3. Cynthia martinez says:

    They need to be brought back, those zonkers were and are better that fiddle faddle, poppycock or any other copier out there!!!! BRING THEM BACK or least let me knpw where i can find them in Dallas, Texas

  4. Mark says:

    SYZ’s died of bureaucratic overdose. The humor was not restricted to instructions on washing, etc. It included things like the ingredient list (Corn with integrity! Honest Yellow Dye #5, and sincere sugar!), the weight of the package (1/87777 of a metric ton) and even the price (Easily cheaper than diamonds of equal weight, this entire box is only ___!)

    It was great fun, but it offended one of The Great Washington Bureaucracies, which decreed that such frivolity was likely to mislead consumers, and thus Could Not Be Tolerated.

    So SYZ, having no choice, went to very ordinary, very boring labeling, and the produce shriveled up and all but died, a victim of our desire to protect ourselves from ourselves.

  5. Bob says:

    Not only was the box fun to read, SYZs were delicious. Better than any of the other popcorn-based snacks. I often ate a whole box of them in one sitting while watching TV after school.

  6. Megan N. says:

    Love Screaming Yellow Zonkers. So sad that they are no longer making them :(. It was a staple at our family picnics since I was a small child (born in the 80s). In fact my aunt, who passed away four years ago, was the one who introduced me to them and shared them with me all the time. Want them to make a comeback!

  7. Darrin says:

    Screaming Yellow Zonkers are coming back in May 2012! Starting May 15th, they will be available for purchase at Walgreen’s nationwide. One can hope for some retro packaging, but I won’t hold my breath.

  8. kelly says:

    so so so sad to find out they no longer make screaming yellow zonkers.i am fifty yrs old.they were my favorite snack almost my entire kids used to surprise me with them when ever they would run across them in a dollar store gas station what ever,need need need to bring them back!

  9. Rob says:

    Went to my local Walgreens today, since today’s the day they’re supposed to be back. Not only did they not have them (no surprise) but no one working there had any clue what I was talking about (also not a surprise).

  10. patricia guarisco says:

    So glad you’re back.What a wonderful taste.

    brings back wonderful memories when times were carefree.Thanks returnig to the shelves.

  11. Jennifer says:

    My Grandma had 3 ft stockings for my brother and me. Every Christmas a box of Zonkers filled the foot of the stocking…Great Memories

  12. Arthur Freedman says:

    Who remembers these? The commericals were great! The name was perfect for the times. The snack, not so much.

  13. Tami says:

    syz are nostalgic for the kids of the 60s. The best ever. just the thought of them takes me back and Smile. And yes… no one can eat just one.

  14. incog99 says:

    We would mention “screaming yellow zonkers” in front of our high school teachers and they’d automatically think we were talking about Nembutals or some other yellow pills. We drove them nuts.

Leave a Reply to Tami Cancel reply