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The Junk Food That Wants to Have It Both Ways

Cari Jordan, a 42-year-old stay-at-home mom, doesn’t want her kids to miss out on the fun 1980s junk food she enjoyed growing up. But she tries to find alternative versions that she considers healthier. Instead of Rice Krispies treats, she buys “crispy squares” from a brand called MadeGood, whose website promises they are “certified vegan and gluten free.” Rather than Blow Pops, she opts for Tree Hugger brand gum-filled lollipops (“vegan, nut free, dairy free”). Ms. Jordan, who lives near San Diego, admits the new-age treats aren’t quite as tasty as the originals, which often contain artificial ingredients. “You don’t get a flavor explosion,” she concedes. There’s a growing market for snack food makers trying to tap into parents’ junk-food nostalgia—while still letting them feel good about giving treats to their kids. Parents are weighing the merits of the Goldfish snacks they grew up with against the likes of Annie’s Organic...

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