Back in the 1980s, it seemed that everybody was at war. You had the G.I. Joe team and their epic battles with the evil forces of Cobra. You had the Autobots and the Decepticons, M.A.S.K. and Venom, and the dozens of warriors from Masters of the Universe. Heck, I could probably list many more toy lines based around heroes defeating villains. Oh heck, why not. There was Bravestarr, the Thundercats, Centurions, Secret Wars, Super Powers, Ghostbusters, Go-Bots, Dino Riders, Visionaries, and Inhumanoids. Around the bottom of the list, near toy lines like Army Ants, M.U.S.C.L.E, Computer Warriors, and Super Naturals, were the Food Fighters. Produced by Mattel in 1988, these warriors fought the forgotten war in the kitchen, and represented the ultimate taboo, the food fight!
The food fight was one of the ultimate dreams of a kid growing up. For me, it was right up there with tagging with Hulk Hogan or defending my home from burglars, with hilarious results. Just think about taking snacks like Jell-O, pudding or applesauce and heaving them at everyone in sight. And when you consider that thereíd be another 200 people all heaving some sort of food, well, it sounds like one heck of a good time. At least that was how it was portrayed in TV and film. In real life, food fights were outlawed beyond belief. At a very early age, teachers and administrators wasted no time instilling the fear of punishment for even entertaining the idea of starting food fights. It was a dead issue. The penalties were far too great. But hey, we could always dream, right?
As a side note, it is also not uncommon for children to believe in the sentience of inanimate objects like figures, dolls, or stuffed animals. And this belief was certainly reinforced by movies like Toy Story or Small Soldiers. And letís not forget Pee-Wee Hermanís fridge and the amusing characters within. So maybe it wouldnít be such a hard sell to convince children that many things were going on in their own fridges. And as Mattel would be pushing this toy line to boys, naturally thereíd be a war going on. So why not call it a food fight! And this was a food fight that you wouldnít get in trouble for having! Iím sold just thinking about it. And Mattel was hoping other kids would be sold on the idea too, thus Food Fighters were born!
It seems that there was a war going on all across kitchens in America. And any other country that sold Food Fighters for that matter. Burgerdier General and his Kitchen Commandos (Major Munch, Private Pizza, Lieutenant Legg, and Sergeant Scoop) were valiantly defending the fridge from a hostile takeover by Mean Weiner and his Refrigerator Rejects (Short Stack, Fat Frenchy, Chip the Ripper, and Taco Terror). Back in the day, Ma got me Private Pizza. It must have been rough for that figure, as I never got any other Food Fighters, so he never really participated in any battles with the Refrigerator Rejects. Sure there were always the Cross-Promotion battles with other toy lines, but it must have been frustrating to not defend the kitchen with Burgerdier General. And he always looked a little out of place fighting beside C.O.P.S. or the Joes.
What really surprises me about this toy line is the battle lines that were drawn. Just who decided that Donuts and Hamburgers would align themselves against Pancakes and Tacos? Wow, thatís a really bizarre sentence to write. Anyway, thereís really no rhyme or reason as to why some foods are good and others evil. At least with the Barcode Battler, which would be introduced a few years later, the groupings at least made some sense. Junk Food against Fruits and Vegetables and such. In fact, if a toy line like Food Fighters was made today, you can bet that it would turn into a Healthy Foods vs. Junk Foods affair. Just another opportunity to promote apples and smear the good name of Twinkies and Fruit Pies.
Anyway, in addition to the warriors themselves, vehicles could be purchased to tip the advantage to one side or the other. Sadly for the Refrigerator Rejects, only one vehicle was intended for them. The BBQ Bomber was an all-purpose assault vehicle, designed to fling shish kabobs at will and flatten any do-gooder. The Kitchen Commandos ruled the skies with the Fry Chopper, complete with real moving propellers and vegetable can bombs. The Commandos also had an edge on land as well, with the Combat Carton, which could hold all five heroes, and launch a series of tomato and pepperoni slices. For any kid lucky enough to own a complete set, Food Fighters offered as close to a food fight as they would ever get, with none of the mess.
During my research on this topic, I found that there was supposed to be a Refrigerator Playset produced as well. Naturally it would have served as headquarters for the Kitchen Commandos, further indicating that the Refrigerator Rejects could not catch a break. It actually looks pretty badass, complete with rocket Popsicles, Juice Bombs, Jail and War Room. It seems like a refrigerator headquarters would be make a lot of sense to have, as Iím sure my Ma would have loved me playing in the fridge with my figures. Matt, youíre letting all the cold air out! Plus it could have easily burned out the motor, like that time on the Simpsons. And Iím sure the last thing that Mattel wanted was a plethora of angry mothers hassling them with repair bills.
Sadly, the Food Fighters line failed to capture the interest of enough young boys. And when you consider the competition at the time, there was just no way it was ever going to happen. The Refrigerator Playset would never be produced, and neither army gained any new recruits. And its really too bad when you think about it, cause they had an endless supply of possible soldiers. And if those additions proved to be successful, you know they would branch out and add more teams into the battle. Like a mutated group of zombie-like creatures made from moldy foods. Or a loud, annoying group protesting the Food Wars, consisting of fruits, vegetables, and soy products. And after that, maybe a cartoon, video game, or even bed sheets. But alas, it just never happened. Mattel dropped the series, and the war was never resolved, becoming just a footnote in the toy lines of the 80s.
But if youíre like me, and just canít get enough of a war being waged in a refrigerator, I suggest picking up a copy of Army Men: Sargeís Heroes 2 for N64 and Playstation. There are several levels where you, as Sgt. Hawk, move from the vegetable crispers all the way up to the freezer, leaving nothing in your wake but destruction and the bodies of dead Tan Soldiers. You can just bet that Burgerdier General and the gang are with him in spirit.