On #ThrowbackThursday (And Planet Lunch), Kids Rule!

Because life on this planet can be harsh…and kids (especially the ones catered to in 1990s marketing) couldn’t rule anything.

Ah, the late 1990s. The cusp of the new millennium still had advertising that tended to be a bit loud and in your face, especially when it was marketed to kids. It was post-Children’s Television Act, but the commercials marketed to the interests and wants of the youngest influencers were still pretty darn good at getting your attention.

Today’s commercial comes from 1999, and not only promotes potato chips as the ultimate lunchtime pack-in, but there was an added benefit to buying these special-sized chip bags.

But before I get too far ahead of myself, let’s talk about the actual commercial, and how it markets to kids.

Kids love frogs.

In 1990s kid world, teachers are creepy and make learning difficult, with big words, promises of everything you will learn in the next thirty seconds being on the final exam (how old are these kids?!), and threats of summer school!

But in 1990s kids world, all of that can be remedied…by eating chips?

I’m just as perplexed as you are!

Click play, and see for yourself!

And in 1990s kids world, class is dismissed FOREVER!

Says the giant alien frog.

So…what is Planet Lunch?

Planet Lunch was a kid-friendly variety pack of Frito-Lay chip products (Doritos, Lays, and Fritos) that were perfectly-sized for school lunches, with an added incentive for buying the products.

Kids would collect “ploids,” or points (toted as “the Official Currency of Fun!”, on the back of the packaging, which they could save up to buy cool items!

Not shown: bikes and duffle bags.

The program ran from 1997 until 1999 (this commercial was found during a Saturday Night Live primetime special from January 9, 1999), with the final Ploids having an expiration date in the early 2000s.

Image: RetroDaze

Planet Lunch was rather short-lived from an adult standpoint, but two years for a program geared at children is a long time. I was a teenager between 1997 and 1999/2000 – 14/15 years old in 1997, depending on when the program started, and 17 years old when those final Ploids expired. I do remember this program, and the displays in the stores. Being in middle/high school during that time, this wouldn’t have appealed to me, but I could see an incentive-based program surrounding the eating of chips to be exciting for kids. Had I been a bit younger (sixth grade, maybe?), this would have been exciting.

The first concept ended with the 1990s, but another program with a slightly different name and concept was on the Frito-Lay loving horizon.


Image: reddit

The second coming of the program began in 2000, an extension of the original “Ploid” program, acting as currency for auctions, rather than saving up the points for purchases. So…eBay for kids. The program actually lasted longer than the original Ploid system did, with over five years of making lunch cooler. It was the first online continuity website (source), and still managed to maintain a cool late 1990s look, well past the end of the ’90s.

And it all started with the goal of making eating chips so much more exciting than it already was, while sticking with the 1990s kiddie advertising goal of sticking it to adults.

Have a great Throwback Thursday!


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