This morning I was sitting in my chair thinking about a snack food that many of us GenXers/Yers here in the US have craved and yearned for for almost 23 years now. A pastry item that was pulled off store shelves and cast into ’90s oblivion just when its popularity was starting to grow. That item was Hostess Cakes’ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Pies.
When they debuted to the world in 1990, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Pies caused a bit of excitement among us kids who were huge fans of the show….and who were lucky enough to have a convenience or grocery store around that carried Turtle Pies in stock! Turtle Pies debuted to the public at the time when the show was the most popular cartoon on TV and the two feature films were out at the theaters. They were cakes/pastries with a fairly hard green sugar shell and glazing and had a vanilla pudding (aka “Vanilla Puddin’ Power”) filling. Later on some Turtle Pies were issued with a regular yellow shell, but with a green “ooze” filling that resembled the mutagen ooze from the show. You could take a big chomp out of these pies and the vanilla goodness would come gushing out! The commercial that aired during weekday and Saturday morning cartoons showed the Turtle Pie being constructed layer by layer and made us want to go out, buy one, eat it, and get filled with Turtle Power! As the Turtles would say, “Gnarly, dude!”
What made us GenX/Yers want to rush out and buy these pies were not only the pies themselves, but the speical little gift within. At first each Turtle Pie contained a sticker depicting the turtles, but when the second TMNT movie debuted at the theaters in March of 1991, each pie came with a free glossy collector’s card that depicted a scene from the movie. There were four issued in total and our friends on the school playground would be happy to trade us some other trading cards, such as a special edition Yo! MTV Raps Vanilla Ice or Marky Mark card, for our extras. If we saved up enough “Turtle Points” from the pie wrappers, we could send them off to Hostess and get a free toy.
Alas, by late 1991 or early 1992, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Pies had completely vanished from the store shelves, never to be seen again. Granted, Turtle Pies were essentially Hostess’s Pudding Pies stripped of the chocolate coating and dyed green. But pudding pies just aren’t (weren’t?) the same as Turtle Pies. That green dye and the sugar shell makes a world of difference. There have been attempts to recreate the Turtle Pie, but the authenticity of these recipes has varied. Some recipes have tasted very close to the original; others not so close.
For those of us who were lucky enough to experience the splendidness that were the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Pies during their relatively brief existence, they may be long gone, but they will live on forever in the hearts and souls of us whose parents bought them for us every time we went to the store. We will never, ever forget eating those pies while watching the show and communicating in Morse Code with our friends or siblings via our toy TMNT communicators! Nor will we forget the taste of the pudding in our mouths as we bit into the pies. Or the excitment of finding a little envelope in the mail (after a 1-2 month wait!) with our special toy inside. Those pies were special little snacks indeed.
If you have any special memories of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Pies, please share them with us in the Comments section below!
For those of you out there who are curious, I saved up my 100 or so Turtle Points and got a set of clicking TMNT “signalling devices”! One of those is still at my mom’s house, probably sitting in some forgotten nook or cranny somewhere gathering dust……