If you think back, what are the flavors that defined your childhood?

Maybe your mind goes to making s’mores around a summer campfire, or maybe you recall inhaling sugary cereals while watching Saturday morning cartoons. What about the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches Mom or Dad packed in your superhero lunch box?

Speaking of PB&J, I immediately think of Smuckers Uncrustables, with the perfect ratio of bread, peanut butter and grape jelly. I also think of my dad making pasta and meatballs for lunch on Saturdays while my mom worked and my siblings and I watched TV. 

And I can’t think about the late ‘90s and early 2000s without recalling Willy Wonka Fun Dip, with neon colored sugar and the chalky dipping stick. The Raspberry Apple flavor was so sweet and so sour, and it always turned your mouth and hands blue.

Playing on consumers’ memories and emotional connections to nostalgic flavors and products can spell success for food manufacturers, according to a new report from FONA International.

Citing data from Mintel, the flavor firm said 71 percent of U.S. consumers enjoy things that remind them of their childhood.

“Although food and beverage nostalgia differs from person to person, there’s science behind our strong emotional ties to food, and it’s a common theme that food and beverage developers can leverage to innovate and expand their brand,” the FONA report reads.

Though what’s considered nostalgic varies based on generational and cultural differences, FONA pinpointed two different kinds of nostalgia: indulgent and next gen.

Indulgent nostalgia evokes those warm and fuzzy feelings most often through high-calorie, high-sugar comfort foods, such as s’mores, cherry pie, and mac and cheese, among others. Meanwhile, next gen indulgence takes a healthier, more “adult” spin on those comforting, retro flavors and products.

“Whether relaunching a retro product, revamping an old one or simply drawing inspiration from the past, we can see that nostalgia sells,” FONA wrote. “While most nostalgic products lean toward indulgence, next gen nostalgia might lie in offering products that remind consumers of their childhood with a more health-focused mindset. The key is understanding the consumer, their experiences and the feelings that evoked that drive them to purchase.”

No matter which way product manufacturers go, anything that makes consumers feel happy and comforted, especially in times as tumultuous as these, is sure to please. Pursuing flavor innovation certainly is important, but there’s nothing wrong with returning to the classics.