Smartly realizing that nerds and kids alike simply do not give a shit what they eat, Marvel Comics has licensed a jaw-dropping amount of food products over the years. From candy to cupcakes, pizza to fruit snacks and beyond, there has been a variety of ways that people could pretend to ingest their favorite comic characters. Most of these items are delicious, even though they are full of the types of processed ingredients and sugars that are a dietician’s worst nightmare. Which brings up a larger point — because we live in a gluten-free, Whole Foods, free-range, cruelty-free, organic, soy-based, whatever world nowadays, it’s easy to forget the simple pleasures that can come from scarfing down a Spider-Man Pop Tart or a Hostess Hulk treat that features so much green food coloring that your poop will look like it is infused with gamma rays. But put the unhealthy consequences of a Stan Lee-endorsed diet out of your head for a little while as you read over today’s Daily List focusing on the five coolest and five strangest food items inspired by Marvel Comics. There’s some incredible edibles ahead, nuff said?
The Coolest: 5) Fantastic Four Gum
As a child of the 1980s who worshiped everything that the Fantastic Four did — including their cartoon with H.E.R.B.I.E.– I still hold fond memories of this Chiclets-esque bubble gum that came packaged 100 pieces to a pouch. You think Hubba Bubba could compete with a value like that? Just looking at this brings back vivid memories of summer days idly spent reading comics and thinking this was the greatest candy ever made. Mmm, grapelicious. Of course from the perspective of a jaded adult, I now find myself questioning the flavor choices. (Why wouldn’t the Thing be given the orange flavor? No cinnamon for the Human Torch? That makes no sense). Yet as a kid back in 1982, a pack of this gum was the next best thing to a trip to the comic store.
4) Spider-Man Ramen
Available at Universal Studios Japan, this inexpensive lunch option gives you the opportunity to ingest sodium-drenched noodles and little edible Spidey heads.(Probably best to not think about their chemical makeup). Other than the possibility of irreversible kidney damage from too much salt consumption, what’s not to love? All that said, If I ever find myself at the park I will be bringing a home a suitcase full of this stuff. Is that my Spidey Sense tingling, or did I just have a heart attack? 3) Gummy Candy Finger Puppets
For the parent who doesn’t give a fuck about whether or not their Honey Boo Boo comes down with a case of E. Coil comes this awesome product that mixes two of mankind’s greatest achievements: Gummy candy and finger puppets. These somewhat hard-to-find treats come in two different varieties, the one featured above and another that is strictly Spideycentric. Obviously they are both awesome because they are the closest things nerds will ever get to edible action figures. Playing with your food may still be completely disgusting, but at least now you’ll look cool while doing so.
2) X-Men Pasta The above commercial declares that X-Men pasta is “not just a meal, it’s an adventure,” and really, can you argue with that? For decades Chef Boyardee has released pasta tie-ins for everything from Pac-Man to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. All of those were just the pre-show entertainment for this culinary main event. Released at the height of the X-Men cartoon’s popularity, what you see here transcended its junk food origins to become a staple of countless fans’ diets. It was inexpensive, tasty and, best of all, featured noodle replicas of Beast and the gang. There was a Spidey pasta product released around the same time as well. Although that one had its good points too, it really couldn’t compete with the joy that resulted from having Wolverine floating around in your belly. Trivia: people who ate this reported that their farts made “snikt” sounds.
1) Spider-Man Popsicle
The Spider-Man popsicle has been getting shit upon by Internet wiseacres lately because of the product’s tendency to melt and take on the appearance of something that looks almost, but not quite, completely unlike the webhead. These anonymous jokesters overlook the fact that summer wouldn’t be the same if Jack and Jill trucks didn’t provide their customers with the option to cool down by chomping into their Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man’s semi-frozen noggin. Even though its risky to bite into Spidey’s gumball eyes if you don’t have dental insurance, you’ve got to admire how this tasty snack endures every year. (Just like global warming and west nile virus!) The past decade has seen the introduction of other Marvel popsicles, including Fantastic Four and Iron Man ones. While some of these have already came and went, Spidey remains ever vigilant — ready to provide kids of all ages with an entertaining and delicious way to beat the heat. Okay true believers, hit the break for the strangest Marvel Comics foodstuffs ever made.
The Strangest: 5) Spider-Man Pizza Print
This product is an edible picture that you can slap on pizza to give the meal a special Spidey flair. It was allegedly designed to be used at kids parties, but you just know that the real target audience is obese nerds who use this product as incentive to get up and go to the oven before they meld with their couches.
4) Marvel Comics Bubble Gum
To be clear, the items on this side of the list aren’t necessarily crappy, just a bit left of center. In fact, this Marvel chewing gum that was released by Topps in the late 1970s is actually quite sought-after/awesome. Why? Because each piece came packaged with a goofy comic like this one:
Pre-Twisted Toyfare Theater and Robot Chicken, these comics were one of a rare few places (the others being Marvel’s Pizazz and Crazy magazines) where you could see these characters being joked about. The gags on these comics are cheesy fun. When coupled with Doctor Strange’s weird — if not downright ominous — fortunes they form a perfect storm of kitsch that simply isn’t seen in contemporary bits of comic-related merchandise.
3) Hulk Gumballs
Ever want to pretend you were chewing the Hulk’s testicles? Then this is the product for you! (Okay, it’s a cheap joke, but at least give me credit for not taking the Hummer/oral sex route).
2) Avengers Hamburger Patties
This past summer the Avengers assembled on dinner tables throughout Europe thanks to a wacky tie-in with the Montana Beef Company. Special marked packages of hamburger patties came w
ith neat IDs featuring characters from the film. So its sort of like when you used to get Star Wars cards with Wonder Bread, only way more irritating to PETA. Some of the film’s cast are vegans, right? I can only imagine that the existence of this had them blaring the Smiths’ Meat Is Murder while they re-examined the merchandising clause in their contracts. 1) Howard the Duck Chicken Fingers
When the Marvel Mania restaurant at Universal Studios Hollywood shuttered back in 1999, it took with it the most disturbing Marvel-related food product: Howard the Duck’s Chicken Fingers. As if the waterfowl hadn’t already endured enough grief in his lifetime — being forced to change his appearance because Disney felt he looked to much like Donald Duck, getting taken away from creator Steve Gerber, the 1986 movie, etc. — he was then manipulated into more or less endorsing cannibalism for the theme restaurant. “They’re good, but I’m glad they’re not duck” Howard blurbed about the chicken fingers on the Marvel Mania menu shortly before his well-publicized breakdown. You notice that in these reboot-happy times that nobody is talking about giving Howard another shot at success. The duck just can’t get a break. Are you out there Whedon? Throw him a bone, hasn’t he suffered enough?
Chris Cummins is a pop culture writer and Archie comics historian who has contributed to The Robot's Voice, Den of Geek US, Philebrity, Geekadelphia, Uproxx, and Unicorn Booty. He is the co-producer and co-host of Nerd Nite Philadelphia, and is regularly involved in producing and hosting New York Super Week events. In 2014, Chris began Sci-Fi Explosion, a mix of live performance, trivia and funny clips celebrating the weirdest in science fiction that regularly travels around the United States. He wrote the introductions to the compilations Archie's Favorite Comics From The Vault and (with Paul Castiglia) Archie's Favorite High School Stories. You can find Chris on Twitter at @bionicbigfoot and @scifiexplosion.