10 weird foods that prove America used to be bananas for banana flavoring

Our taste buds once had a hankering for banana soda, banana marshmallows, banana gum and banana meat loaf.

Top image: Associated Press

Funny, how flavors come and go. If you hopped in a time machine with a case of açaí flavored Vitamin Water, people of forty years ago would think you came from an alien planet. Likewise, some favored flavors of the midcentury seem quaint or downright strange to modern tongues.

What we're getting at is that American taste buds used to just be nuts for bananas. Well, it went beyond food. There were banana seats on wheelie bikes in the 1960s, banana jeans in the 1970s. Go back to the 1920s and you'll find the baseball themed BB Bats banana taffy on a stick. The original Twinkie was banana flavored.

Bananas were rationed during World War II, and perhaps that led folks to pine for the tropical fruit. Because in the postwar boom, banana was everywhere in our grocery stores, candy aisles and cookbooks. Here are some of the weirdest / most delicious (it's a divisive flavor) banana foods from the 1950s, '60s and '70s. 

1. Anna Banana Soda

Canfield's banana soft drink flopped in the 1970s, but still… there was enough of a banana craze for them to make it in the first place. Perhaps people preferred their banana-ish foods chewed.

Image: eBay

2. Banana Meat Loaf

Chiquita produced several editions of its cookbook with out-of-the-box ideas. The one that jumps off the pages in this 1962 edition is the — *Hrrk* — Banana Meat Loaf. Other ideas include grilled bananas with mint jelly and "Banana Scallops."

Image: Book It

3. Big Banana Bubble Gum

It's like a banana that you never swallow.

Image: Flickr / jasonliebigstuff

4. Wackies cereal

Imagine Lucky Charms, if all the marshmallows were flavored with banana — banana stars, banana "squiggles" and banana "bingles." General Mills made up silly shape names for the 1965 debut.


Image: Mississippi Library Commission

5. Corn Flakes with Instant Bananas

In the mid-'60s, Kellogg's got into the banana breakfast game with it's "instant bananas." For those too lazy to slice a fresh banana into their bowl. What exactly did the bananas do in an instant? We hope magically turn soft.

Image: Box Vox

6. Banana Flip

Made by Mickey's and Nickles, this snack cake built a rabid fan base, as we learned when we mentioned it in our lost snack foods of the 1970s. They were especially popular in the Ohio area.

Image: Flickr / emeraldtoys

7. Banana Splits

Necco cranked out tons of these taffy chews back in the day, and you can still buy them online today. Did they have to make the bananas look so brown on the wrapper?

Image: Old Time Candy

8. Banana Flipsticks

Flipsticks, or "candy lipstick," was a popular Halloween get in the 1960s. Naturally, there was a banana flavor.

Image: Old Time Candy

9. Ham and Bananas Hollandaise

A modern Internet sensation, this entry in McCalls Great American Recipe Card Collection from 1973 has become the ultimate example of awesomely out-there retro recipes. Perhaps we are bananas for saying this, but if it were not for the textural issues — creamy on soft on mushy — this wouldn't seem so crazy to us. Bacon wrapped dates are delicious, right?

Image: Vintage Recipe Cards

10. Monkees Trading Cards

Hey, hey, these trading cards came with banana flavored gum. Makes sense, what with the whole "Monkees" name.

Image: Phoenix New Times

 
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59 Comments

RaynaGorowitz 10 months ago
Every Tom, Dick and Howard (and their brother-in-law) says that banana flavored items don’t taste like bananas-the-fruit. News flash! Banana-flavored confections and treats taste like bananas themselves USED TO.
See, the variety of bananas sold in most stores back in the day was a strain called the Gros Michel, whose flavor was more robust and full-bodied than the Cavendish, which is the variety of banana we mostly eat today. When the Gros Michel banana crop was all but eradicated by a fungal blight, the Cavendish took over the banana market. Banana flavoring is based off the flavorful Gros Michel banana.
L 11 months ago
Tra la la...

Some cereals has dried bananas even today. Or you can add you're own.
Willalexmac 11 months ago
What's long and yellow and has a dog?
Answer: Little orphan Banannie
RWJgreens 11 months ago
Banana Slurpees at 7-11. Also Banana flavored Kits. (Came in a pack of 4 square candies, individually wrapped, in a wax paper like wrapper.) Similar to Now & Later candy but a little smaller They had chocolate flavor, strawberry, and banana.
KellyTenace 11 months ago
Banana is actually a really great flavor. Who doesn't love banana bread? I wish some of these were still around.
Moverfan KellyTenace 11 months ago
I doesn't like banana bread! And I surprised my niece (and shocked my sister) when I told them I don't like macaroni and cheese. (My sister said she didn't know anybody who didn't like it and I pointed out she was related to somebody who absolutely hates the stuff.)
L Moverfan 11 months ago
It's a good thing my mother isn't alive and doesn't know you. She would be checking your head for holes. Trust me on this one!
RichLorn 11 months ago
I actually was bananas over Corn Flakes with Instant Bananas. I was excited to "peel" off the box top.
Seriously, I didn't know bananas were rationed during WW2.
LmerFudd 11 months ago
Bananas Foster at Brennan's in New Orleans -- what a way to end breakfast.
UTZAAKE 11 months ago
1. Doubt if bananas were an actual ingredient. If it was, that would've been a beverage at odds with itself. Bananas and carbonated water have opposite effects when it comes to hydration. Love the can, though.
JKMallaber 11 months ago
The concession stand at our local park made frozen chocolate-covered bananas. Awesome! Not sure if they do anymore, though. There's probably a law or something . . .

Brown soft bananas are perfect for making banana bread!
Auntiekk 11 months ago
I remember Mickey's Banana Flips. They always had too much cream filling for me, so I would scrape some of it out. I loved the banana Turkish Taffy...even though you could crack a tooth on it.
Any banana flavored candy was delicious to me as a kid, to be honest.
Pacificsun 11 months ago
Sorry, I don't remember ANY of that banana stuff. Even banana pudding was weird.

As kids we didn't mind softer (more ripened) bananas, but as an adult, into the trash they go quickly.
LmerFudd 11 months ago
I loved banana Bonamo Turkish Taffy in the early 1970s.
tnminnow 11 months ago
I remember the Mickey's Banana Flip Cakes when I was growing up. Loved them. I couldn't resist licking the banana cream first. I miss them. 😋🍌
dth1971 11 months ago
What about the McDonald's GO BANANAS milkshake in the 1970's?
IdaKnow56 11 months ago
I love peanut butter and banana sandwiches! Now that I have Elvis' secret recipe, I'll try making them on my George Foreman Grill. I remember eating Banana Wackies Cereal and Corn Flakes with Bananas. I think the bananas were freeze-dried; they were soft enough to chew on but didn't get any softer in the milk. I also remember eating the BB Bats banana taffy on a stick, as well as Banana-flavored Bonomo Turkish Taffy. Nowadays I avoid taffy because of my bridgework, but I sure could go for a Twinkie with banana cream filling. Why don't they bring them out again as a limited edition? As far as banana soda, I prefer coconut soda, thank you very much. I can see using plantains to stretch a meatloaf, but bananas? That's a slippery subject. BTW what do you get when you put a pair of banana skins on your feet? A pair of slippers!
ncadams27 11 months ago
The banana flavoring in these items doesn’t taste like a real banana which doesn’t have that strong of a taste.
AlF 11 months ago
The little bananas in "Runts" candy. Love those, but don't care for the other flavors...
Moody 11 months ago
I remember Banana Flips! I loved those. You could buy them off the Roach Coach at a few AFB's where I was stationed. They were great with a cup of coffee. Banana Meat Loaf sounds like something one of my brothers would come up with.
justjeff 11 months ago
Awww... this story was bananas!
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