7 pop culture favorites that are turning 50 years old in 2021

Count Chocula, Hamburger Helper and Swamp Thing are turning the big 5-0. Wonder if they're friends?

It's hard to believe these things are all half of a century old. Thankfully, many of them can still make us feel young, from the sugar cereals to the slimy superhero.

Here are some beloved box office hits, botanical shampoos, and beef boosters you might not realize were born in 1971.

1. Monster Cereals from General Mills


Count Chocula and Franken Berry made breakfast monstrous — and marshmallowy — in 1971 with the launch of their iconic "Monster Cereals." What about their friends? Boo Berry first floated into bowls in 1973. Fruit Brute followed a year later. They always had pretty sweet prizes inside the boxes back then. We miss those.

Image: General Mills

2. The Quarter Pounder from McDonald's


Following in the footsteps of the Big Mac, which premiered a few years earlier, the Quarter Pounder was the brainchild of a Bay Area franchise owner who felt there was "a void in our menu vis-à-vis the adult who wanted a higher ratio of meat to bun." The California location launched the beefy burger in 1971. McDonald's eventually took the sandwich nationwide in 1973. Which do you prefer — the Big Mac or the Quarter Pounder?

Image: McDonald's

3. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory


Roald Dahl published Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 1964. Six years later, when Paramount adapted the instant classic to big screen, the title shifted the focus to Willy Wonka, the whimsical confectioner. And rightfully so. He's a much more interesting character. Sorry, Charlie. Gene Wilder made the man delightfully warm, witty and wicked. The real-life Wonka Bar also hit candy shelves in 1971, allowing us to eat along with the characters.

Image: Paramount

4. Swamp Thing


In the Seventies, the major comics publishers delved more into horror, perhaps nostalgic for the comics of the Fifties. Alongside the good guys in capes and spandex, this new breed of anti-hero filled the drugstore racks in titles like Tomb of Dracula and Werewolf by Night. DC's boggy botanical monster Swamp Thing made his debut in House of Secrets #92 (July 1971), helping to kick off the movement. In the half-century since, Swamp Thing has come to live multiple times on live-action television, including the 1990 series that has sometimes aired on MeTV.

Image: The Everett Collection

5. Hamburger Helper


"Hamburger Helper… when you need a helping hand!" The Seventies jingle is still stuck in our head. Oh, and the Eighties one, too: "Hamburger Helper helped her hamburger help her… makes a great meal!" The white glove mascot, Helping Hand, became a regular fixture of television commercial breaks in the 1970s.

Image: General Mills

6. The Oregon Trail computer game


Most Gen-X and Millennial kids at some point played the educational computer game The Oregon Trail in school. Today, "You have died of dysentery" survives as a meme on social media. That's longevity. Believe it or not, it dates all the way back to 1971. Of course, back then, it did not have those high-tech green-and-black 8-bit graphics. No, no — that kind of technology was years off. It was a text-based computer program. Educators in Minnesota programmed the game for their students!

7. Herbal Essences Shampoo


We know from past articles about Seventies shampoos (yes, we've done posts on vintage haircare) that folks have fond, fond memories of the smell inside this bottle. When this shampoo was launched in 1971, the advertisements featured an animated "nature girl" bathing in an idyllic pond, surrounded in blossoming flowers. It doesn't quite smell the same today, does it?

Image: Procter & Gamble

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camdensmom 40 months ago
I use that shampoo today! It is lovely! Smells so very good.
MissTheOldDays 41 months ago
I enjoyed reading this. I watch commercials and news breaks from the 70's and 80's on YouTube. When I am feeling nostalgic the videos really put me in the right spot. I love the feeling they give me.
retired2019 41 months ago
Tanya Roberts LIVES !!! How could anyone make that big of a BOO-BOO ?🤪
lgbyrne1129 41 months ago
Back in the days of Herbal Essence, a friend of mine had a variation of the above picture on his VW. It was quite the rolling billboard. I guess it was an early version of today’s shrink wrap advertising one sees on cars.
DerekBird 41 months ago
This upcoming year marks the first appearance of Len Wein (ween) and Bernie Wrightson's creation Swamp Thing, and what do you do? Instead of the Cover for HOS #92 (July 1971) you show a copy of the movie poster from 1982. This is what you should have posted instead.
lynngdance 41 months ago
To celebrate Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory’s 50th, here are some GIFS! 😆😁
dodgebob 41 months ago
My favorite salesperson of any period is........and this deserves a drumroll.......Yellow M&M, J.K. Simmons.
Mob39 41 months ago
Wow! I was 7 years old!! 😳
RobertK 41 months ago
I was working at a local pharmacy, I was 15, in our neighborhood at the tobacco, notions and candy counter when the Wonka candy bars and Oompas came to the market. We couldn't keep them on the shelves they were so popular. The store was across the street from a local playground and the kid's would be waiting for us to open in the morning. Maybe the thought of the "Golden Ticket" thing was an incentive to buy the candy bars.
Wiseguy RobertK 41 months ago
kids. Plural not possessive or contraction.
DS62 41 months ago
I loved "Count Chocula" but soon it was off our breakfast table when mom got into Health Food. Tiger Milk fruit shakes with Wheatgerm replaced the cereal or Cream of Wheat. Dad took us once to Mc Donald's but I haven't been back since! (49 years ago!). I remember using Herbal Essence in High School. I sure wish they'd bring back that fresh, green scent! And I just made a homemade version of Hamburger Helper and it turned out great! Just added slightly cooked Whole Wheat Pasta (spirals) to browned ground Buffalo burger and mushrooms, Organic Portibello Mushroon Soup, a bit of Bone Broth and cooked for 25 minutes in a large dome covered pan. Threw in some Caraway Seeds -and topped with a dollop of Sour Cream! Fantastic!
carl 41 months ago
I only get to watch M E TV why can I not listen to the radio station
Deleted 41 months ago
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Amalthea 41 months ago
My family ate at a McDonald's for the first time in about 40 years - we've never taken our daughters there for lunch - because it was the closest place to the car dealership where we had tried to buy a car. The car dealership took forever and we were starving. While eating there, I was reminded why we didn't eat there. I won't be going again any time soon.
denny 40 months ago
They have used recycled paper and cardboard for their packaging for years now and my food has always tasted funny ever since then. I eat there maybe once a year.
purplerose60 41 months ago
Really miss The original Herbal Essence shampoo!
CarolKelley purplerose60 41 months ago
Oh, me too! It was my all time favorite shampoo. I don't use shampoo anymore as I'm a Curly Girl (Curly Old Lady?) so I co-wash. The Vermont Country Store did sell a clone of good ol' Herbal Essence a few years ago. Even the bottle was the right shape.
purplerose60 CarolKelley 38 months ago
I’m intrigued, what is co-wash?
Lantern 41 months ago
Regarding Willy Wonka, I never did like either of the two films from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the other one had Johnny Depp as Wonka). I always thought that Sammy Davis Jr., who sang "Candyman", would have been the perfect Wonka.
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RobertRuiz Tampafanatic1 41 months ago
Are you all aware that David Klein, the inventor of Jelly Belly jelly beans, and self proclaimed Candyman, did his own version of The Golden Ticket this year, and is giving way his factory in May?
Wiseguy lynngdance 41 months ago
...where you're coming from...
lynngdance Wiseguy 41 months ago
Not sure what you mean. 🙂
Tampafanatic1 RobertRuiz 41 months ago
No I did not Robert. Thanks for that tid bit of trivia. May you have a Happy 2021.
Bubba77511 41 months ago
Eating boo berry and fraken berry are still one of my faves of halloween
Hogansucks1 41 months ago
The Swamp Thing’s beauty he’s holding is quite ravaging- I’m surprised the censor’s didn’t reject the artist’s overflowing attention to the vixen’s display. I’d hang that on my wall! (framed). 🙂 😏
Hogansucks1 Hogansucks1 41 months ago
Happy Holidays 😇
Jeffrey Hogansucks1 41 months ago
You mean Ravishing Beauty, NOT Ravaging, which is to hit or tear something or someone apart.
MissouriGirl83 Hogansucks1 41 months ago
Yes her name was Adrianne Barbeau and I remember that movie very well. Loved it
Wiseguy Hogansucks1 41 months ago
censors. Plural, not possessive or contraction.
jo69guy 41 months ago
Wow. I feel old now. I remember all of these things from when I was 5 years old.
Tampafanatic1 jo69guy 41 months ago
Me too, born in '65, right at the beginning of my real memories.
15inchBlackandWhite 41 months ago
Hamburger Helper became a thing in the 70's because inflation was so out of control that you had to try and stretch your food dollar every way you could. I remember Kroger selling a ground beef product that was 30% soy meal to get the cost down. Add that to Hamburger Helper and you had a couple of meals and could then make the payment on your mortgage with the 19% interest rate.
I hear you. I remember having Hamburger Helper one week and Manwich the next.
denny 15inchBlackandWhite 40 months ago
I remember my step mom adding oat meal to the hamburger, ugh.
JasonDhaemers 41 months ago
I was amazed by a couple of these.
retired2019 41 months ago
I’m response to the time warpwife, I agree. The shampoo stinks 😷 Every time company’s try to improve something,they mess it up!
bobbygood retired2019 41 months ago
Every time they try to “improve” a product they are really trying to make it for less money (thus less quality). Every time they change the packaging there is less product as well.
Wiseguy retired2019 41 months ago
companies. Plural, not possessive or contraction.
denny retired2019 40 months ago
True, I got hooked on sugar free Hawaiian Punch packets you add to a water bottle this past summer, it was great. Went and stocked up during pandemic, New Better Taste and packaging. Should be called New Bitter and Aftertaste. Undrinkable.
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