Top 10 Iconic Junk Foods



Top 10 Iconic Junk Foods

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
They may not be healthy, but damn are they addictive. For better or for worse, junk food is an inescapable part of our lives – we don't know a ton of people who haven't gorged themselves at least once on an entire can of Pringles or bag of Oreos. And now that we've got our beloved Twinkies back on the market, all is right with the world. In honor of National Junk Food Day on July 21st, 2013, counts down our picks for the top 10 iconic junk foods. For this list, we've chosen memorable, unique and specific names in junk food and have ranked them based on their impact on the market and pop culture. We can't rank them based on taste because they're all our favorites.

Top 10 Iconic Junk Foods

They may not be healthy, but damn are they addictive. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 iconic junk foods.

For this list, we’ve chosen memorable, unique and specific names in junk food and have ranked them based on their impact on the market and pop culture. We can’t rank them based on taste because they’re all our favorites.

#10 – Cheetos

Sure, you could grab a bag of Lays, Doritos, or a can of Pringles, but if you’re looking for a puffy, cheesy cornmeal snack, nothing satisfies like Cheetos. From the same mind responsible for Fritos, Cheetos have been turning our fingers orange since 1948. Their melt-in-your-mouth goodness may be tricking our brains into thinking they’re calorie-free – but ain’t that the beauty of junk food? Chester Cheetah says yes.

#9 – Krispy Kreme Doughnut

We didn’t know how doughnuts were supposed to taste until we had our first, fresh Krispy Kreme. The company has been producing pound upon pound of these golden, glazed rings of deep-fried sexiness since 1937. Dunkin’ Donuts may be more famous, but Krispy Kreme gets the nod since they’re truly all about the plain glazed. And they get you hooked with that free one while you’re waiting in line.

#8 – M&Ms

We all know they melt in your hand as much as they melt in your mouth, but we all do not care. M&Ms were introduced in 1941 by Forrest Mars, Sr. and Bruce Murrie – get it? There are now many variations on the theme – peanut, pretzels, almonds, you name it – but these colorful confections are at their best when they’re milk chocolate covered in a hard candy coating.

#7 – KFC Fried Chicken

You want to taste the Southern United States; you dig into some fried chicken – and KFC’s is the most iconic. Founded by Colonel Sanders in 1930 as a competitor to burger-based restaurants, Kentucky Fried Chicken has become one of the most popular fast-food chains on earth, thanks in large part to its secret blend of herbs and spices that makes their buckets full of chicken finger-lickin’ good.

#6 – Pizza Hut Pizza

From the folks that brought you Meat Lovers, Stuffed Crust, and innumerable other pie-shaped concoctions comes the standard that started it all: straight-up cheese and pepperoni from Pizza Hut. When the company started its first restaurant in 1958, pizza parlors were not that common – but look at ‘em now. Though the Hut has diversified its menu, they’ve already found the recipe for success. And delicious fast-food pizza.

#5 – Pop-Tarts

Pop-Tarts came along at a time when breakfast usually consisted of toast, cereal or eggs, so handheld frosted pastries filled with fruit that you could just throw in the toaster had a big impact. The original, unfrosted version debuted in 1964 and, while not known for its nutritional value, it was a hit that has since spawned every flavor variation under the sun. Pop-Tarts are crazy good.

#4 – Oreos

You could put any cookie on this list, but Oreos aren’t just any cookie: they’re the perfect blend of soft cream and hard crunch. They’re over 100-years-old. They’re milk’s best friend. They’re symbols of racial harmony! Okay, that’s a stretch, but whether you twist, lick or dunk, you know Oreos cannot be duplicated – off-brand sandwich cookies are just not worth eating. Honestly, Oreos are an inescapable junk food and pop culture staple.

#3 – Twinkie

They’re golden sponge cakes with creamy filling, and they fit in the palm of your hand. Created in 1930, Twinkies were originally filled with banana cream, but that was replaced once bananas were rationed during WWII. Since then the urban legends have multiplied: are Twinkies the food equivalent of cockroaches? Do they survive atomic blasts? Do they never expire? We don’t know, but we can confirm they’re delicious.

#2 – Coca-Cola

Yes, we’re counting soda as food, and which one is more recognizable than Coke? Coca-Cola was first marketed in 1886 as a medicine, thanks to its trace amounts of cocaine. While they have removed the white stuff from their recipe, the formula remains one of the most closely guarded secrets in the free world. And the logo, one of the most identifiable. Always.

#1 – McDonald’s Big Mac and Fries

The Golden Arches are legendary worldwide, and this is their most famous offering. Introduced in 1967, the Big Mac isn’t just a burger: it’s a symbol of capitalism, globalization and Americana. But more than that, it’s two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun, and we’re lovin’ it – especially with a side of golden fries. And especially after a night of drinking.

Do you agree with our list? Which junk food do you stuff your face with most? For more top 10s about your favorite pop culture touchstones, be sure to subscribe to