I already spend far more time than is mentally healthy talking about discontinued snack food, and this is the one I grumble about the most, usually to my cats because they’re the only ones who will listen at this point. I’m talkin’ about my beautiful, beautiful Planters Cheez Balls.
Packaged in that yellow-lettering-on-blue-background canister that is still used today, Cheez Balls took Mr. Peanut’s cashew can and ramped it up to a size that could store a whole battalion of green Army men.
They were roughly the size of a shooter marble and delightfully crunch yet airy, so much so that you could cram your maw full of them and they’d almost instantly disintegrate into a wonderful cheesy paste.
I remember that my dad initially bought them for my brother, but once I tried them I ate the entire canister, which presumably resulted in me getting an Indian burn. That’s a terribly insensitive name for it, but that’s what it was called.
After that incident we had to have TWO canisters of Cheez Balls in the house at all times, each labeled with our names. Such is the way of sibling life; I’m sure many of you can relate.
The Internet tells me Planters Cheez Balls were discontinued in 2006, but I feel I stopped seeing them on shelves well before then. I refuse to believe I lived in a world where I did my own grocery shopping and I never bought myself a dozen cans.
“Why don’t you just eat Cheetos Puffs?”
Nobody asks me, because they’re all tired of me talking about it. To them I say that, while Puffs are okay, they’re not the same consistency or the same flavor, plus they lack that poppable sphere form. Planters made a unique product.
The closest thing I’ve found these days is The Snack Artist (a Safeway brand) Cheese Balls, which come in a barrel so large it’s embarrassing to take up to the checkout stand, even by my standards. They’re a bit more dense and the cheese is a little different, but they’re probably your closest bet.
There was a change.org petition to bring them back, and it came just 180 shy of reaching its 1,000 goal. I hope one day to see those big, beautiful blue canisters back on shelves.