Growing up in the 90s in Lebanon, we had our fair share of “comfort” food (read: junk food) to get us through those miserably long school days and rides home on the “autocar.” Back in the day, fast food joints like McDonald’s and Burger King hadn’t yet taken the country by storm, and eating out was at best a home-style burger from Winner’s. But we managed to make do on rubbish like Bonjus juice and Fantasia chips.

Let’s take a ride down memory lane and explore some foods from our precious childhoods. Lucky for us, most of these treasures are still around for days we crave reliving the memories.

1. Bonjus

(Image via One Room in Beirut)

I recall being enamored with the novel shape of Bonjus pineapple “juice,” or shall I call it “flavored sugary drink.” It wasn’t so much the contents—though that cloyingly sweet and highly acidic potion was addictive—as much as it was the pyramid structure of the carton holding it all. Bonjus juice boxes were permanent fixtures of every kid’s birthday party.

2. Glass Soda Bottles

(Image via Zaatar w Lebneh)

For times when we wanted a more mature drink, Pepsi, 7UP and Mirinda did the trick. I’m talking those old school glass bottles filled to the brim with fizzy soda that you could secure for 250LL a pop as long as you returned the emptied bottle to the vendor. Something special about the taste and feel of that soda that simply cannot be replicated in an aluminum can.

3. Fantasia Chips

(Image via Pinterest)

Remember buying bags of Fantasia chips simply for the surprise gift enclosed inside? Sure, the chips were passable—I always enjoyed the peanut-flavored variety mostly because we didn’t have it in the US. But the cheap little trinkets had such value to us youngsters: it could be a plastic necklace or even a hip tattoo. We used to swap them at recess.


(Image via Tasty Island Hawaii)

Today, it may be dismissed as a high-sodium, high-cholesterol convenience food chockfull of preservatives, but back then, nothing tasted more savory than corned beef or SPAM in the tin cans with the tin keys. Spread it on thin Arabic pita, jazz it up with a few slivers of cucumber, and you had yourself a feast for a king. Far fancier than Picon, that’s for sure.

5. Vienna Sausages

(Image via Prove Edora Jiron)

Try serving a kid a canned wiener today, and he’ll scrunch up his face in disgust. Vienna sausages (I have in mind Libby’s) were what dream meals were made of: short, salty, and derived from meat like beef, turkey and chicken (or blends thereof). Stuff them in those sweetened faux buns, dress them up with mustard and ketchup, and you’ve got yourself one helluva delightful dog.

6. Pain au Lait

(Image via Paper Blog)

Who can forget the soft, fluffy texture of pain au lait, that fragrant bread perfumed with milk and sugar? For many of us, it was a reward breakfast or an afternoon treat. Sometimes studded with “pepites de chocolat,” other times stuffed with a core of fondant chocolate. But plain tasted just fine, and dunked in Nido powdered milk, it was heaven on earth.

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