Remember Carnation Breakfast Bars & Carnation Instant Breakfast?

Vintage Carnation Breakfast bar 1970s

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The old Carnation Breakfast Bars (not to be confused with Breakfast Squares) were an offshoot of the popular Instant Breakfast powdered drink mix. The drink mix survived and thrived, and still holds space on grocery store shelves (and online, too). 

The original bars, though, are another story. Introduced in 1975, these sweet breakfast and other meal replacements enjoyed success in the ’70s & ’80s, and were particularly popular with kids and teens.

As those kids got older, though, sales apparently decreased…. so to give the product some new buzz, it was relaunched in 1994 (see that ad below). Unfortunately, just three years later, Carnation Breakfast Bars were discontinued for good.

Perhaps in response to a small but avid online fan base, around 2014, Nestle introduced something similar — although with a new name and retooled recipe: Carnation Breakfast Essentials Nutrition Bars.

Carnation Breakfast Essentials Nutrition Bars - Flat

Unfortunately, people didn’t seem to be impressed, and most reviews we found said that the new bars didn’t taste much like the original version.

By 2020, they, too, had been retired. But who knows? Maybe we’ll see another new Carnation breakfast bar in supermarkets during the mid-2030s…

Carnation Instant Breakfast (1966)

Yesterday, you may have had a reason for missing a good, nourishing breakfast. Today, you don’t. Now you can have new Carnation instant breakfast — makes milk a meal that’s too good to miss.

Each glass delivers as much protein as two eggs, as much mineral nourishment as two strips of crisp bacon, and more energy than two slices of buttered toast, and even Vitamin C—the orange juice vitamin. It comes in a lot of great flavors, too. Look for them in your cereal section.

Carnation Instant Breakfast powder to mix into milk - 1966

ALSO SEE: Invented in the 1960s, Kellogg’s Pop Tarts toaster pastries are more popular than ever

Vintage Carnation Instant Breakfast packets: Breakfast insurance (1971)

You can be sure your body gets protein vitamin, minerals and food energy at breakfast time with Carnation instant breakfast.

If there’s one thing a body needs at breakfast time, it’s real nourishment. And when you’re too rushed for your regular breakfast, Carnation instant breakfast is real breakfast insurance. 

Milk contributes substantial nutrition. (Read our package label.) Then to make milk a meal, Carnation instant breakfast contributes the rest of the protein, vitamins, minerals and food energy. It all adds up to as much nourishment as there is in a poached egg on toast, two strips of bacon and a glass of orange juice.

Vintage Carnation Instant Breakfast packets

Carnation Breakfast Essentials Powder Drink Mix, Rich Milk Chocolate,1.26 Ounce (Pack of 22),...
  • Powdered Nutritional Drink: Snack or breakfast, drink with skim milk or add to smoothies, Carnation Breakfast Essentials Powdered Drink Mix provides 13g of protein when mixed with 1 cup of fat free...
  • Carnation Breakfast Essentials Original: The nutritional drink you love at breakfast, available in two easy forms
  • Powder Drink Mix: Mix Carnation Breakfast Essentials Powder Drink Mix with skim milk or mix in a smoothie for a tasty, easy snack or breakfast drink and start the day right, with protein and other...

Introducing Carnation breakfast bar (1975)

The instant breakfast you can get your teeth into. Smooth chocolate outside. Crispy nuts. crunchy centers or granola inside. New Carnation breakfast bar is the delicious way to enjoy instant breakfast nourishment — anytime.

In irresistible flavors: Chocolate chip – Chocolate Crunch – Granola with Raisins – Granola Cinnamon – Granola with Peanut Butter.

ALSO SEE: 70 popular vintage 1970s cereals we loved & we miss

Vintage Carnation Breakfast bar 1976

Goody! New Carnation Breakfast Bar flavors! (1981)

Caramel nut crunch – Chocolate coconut crunch – Chocolate malted milk crunch

When you buy Carnation Instant Breakfast and Carnation Breakfast Bars. Your kids will always have time for a nutritious breakfast with Carnation Instant Breakfast. Mixed with milk., it makes a quick, delicious meal!

And for nutrition they can sink their teeth into, give your kids Carnation Breakfast Bars. Just one delicious bar with a glass of milk makes a complete, balanced meal!

Tallahassee Democrat (Tallahassee, Florida)29 Jan 1981, ThuPage 8i

Vintage Quaker Instant Oatmeal: Remember all these different flavors?

Free milk: With the purchase of Carnation Instant Breakfast or Carnation Breakfast Bar. (1982)

Carnation says “Good Morning” with a FREE 1/2 GALLON OF MILK WHEN YOU BUY 3 PACKAGES (ANY COMBINATION) of Carnation instant breakfast or Carnation breakfast bar.

Carnation instant breakfast, mixed with vitamin D milk makes a delicious, nutritious meal. It’s so easy, everyone has time to start the day right.

And, for healthful snacking, try a Carnation breakfast bar. It’s chocolatey, nutty, delicious — filled with vitamins and minerals. In fact, one bar and a glass of vitamin D milk make a complete meal.

Vintage Carnation Instant Breakfast mix and bars

Free milk “for the student body” (1984)

Carnation Breakfast Bars - 1984

Chocolate chip breakfast bars

Carnation Breakfast Bars - Chocolate chip from 1984

ALSO SEE: Awesome 80s cereal, including old brands & cool flavors you probably forgot!

Carnation Instant Breakfast mix TV commercial (1987)

YouTube video

When a retro favorite relaunched the first time: New Carnation Breakfast Bars (1994)

We load it up with 19 vitamins & minerals and all we hear about is how good it tastes. Toasted oats, honey, chocolate chunks. Sure, they make your mouth water.

But our new breakfast bars also have more vitamins and minerals than any leading bar. Plus they’re rich in calcium and iron and made with all-natural flavors. So go ahead. Rave about the taste. At least now you know what’s behind it. Nestle Food Company.


Carnation breakfast bars - Working Mother May 1994

Vintage Breakfast Squares: The sweet frosted bars that General Mills used to make

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Comments on this story

21 Responses

  1. 8/21/2020
    If there is anyone out there like me that are still craving the extinct original Instant Carnation Breakfast Bar, I have just found that Adkins has just introduced a new protein meal bar called “Cookies and Creme”, which has very close to the same flavor and consistency (not the gooey teeth pulling chewy kind that all vendors seem to be doing lately) . And they go fantastic with milk like the original Carnation bars. Enjoy!

    1. I just had an Atkins Peanut Fudge Granola Bar and it totally reminded me of the Carnation Breakfast Bars which is what brought me here. It’s not exact, but definitely reminiscent of it….closest thing I’ve found as an adult.

    2. I miss the original chocolate chip breakfast bars! Loved everything about those bars, taste, texture! Incredibly satisfying. I’ve been thinking about these bars for years. The last time I remember eating one was in the early 1990’s. I wish they would bring the original recipe back! It would likely do incredibly well. Seeing is the grab and go breakfast bar theme has made comeback.

      Bring them back! Bring them back! Bring them back!

  2. NuGo brand also makes nutrition bars similar in taste and consistency to the old Carnation breakfast bars. Of course, I haven’t had the old bars since mid or late 80s, so my memory might be playing tricks on me. They are definitely better than the school glue and sawdust consistency of many nutrition bars.

  3. I miss the Carnation Bars. My favorite was peanut butter. I used to eat them
    While riding the school bus in the morning for breakfast. I wished they
    Could bring back the original breakfast bar from the 80 and 90’s.

  4. I like the chocolate chip one and the peanut butter one they were so good I can remember riding the school bus or even sneaking one or two in the middle of the night I miss that good breakfast bar and the instant breakfast is trash please bring them back

  5. Fun to revisit Instant Breakfast. It would have been fun to see more about ALL the flavors they offered way back then, including strawberry and EGG NOG! Anyone recall that one? It was really yummy! I’d buy it if it were available now.

  6. I have been telling my daughter about Carnation Instant Breakfast Bars for YEARS. They were so damn good. I used to eat them riding on the bus. My dad insisted we have those and the instant drink every morning.

    Please please bring them back.

    Original recipe.


  7. I used to eat a whole box of Carnation breakfast bars every week. At least 1 box. I liked chocolate chip and peanut butter flavors. I’m still upset the company hasn’t reinstituted this product. It was the best thing they ever produced.

    1. It it would be great if the breakfast bars were brought back. Loved the chocolate chip and peanut butter. They are delicious.

  8. PLEASE bring these back! These were so popular and delicious so I always wonder why they were discontinued.

  9. Not only do I miss the chocolate chip and peanut butter breakfast bars but also the fudge breakfast squares. I have wondered for years why Carnation hasn’t brought the original versions back since they have been discontinued for so long. So many people loved them back in the 70’s and 80’s. It would be great to see these rereleased again.

  10. It took me years to figure out what bars we ate as kids! I finally remembered it was carnation! They were so good! I crave them! They need to bring back the original recipe from the 80s!

  11. I am always checking the grocery shelves to see if there has been a miracle and the original Carnation Breakfast Bars are back. I loved them as a kid and would love them as a grown woman!

  12. The only thing I’ve ever had which satisfied like the chocolate chip version of the originals is the 1990s MRE oatmeal cookie bar.

  13. Oh Yes! Please bring back the original Carnation Breakfast Bars. Not the last recipe. Those were horrible. I can still taste the originals after all these years! My favorite were the chocolate chip and chocolate chip peanut butter. You know, they say in market research terms, each contributor represents at least 1000-2000 people. That’s 20,000 to 40,000 people just right here saying to please bring back the original recipe. And I’m sure we represent a lot more than that!

  14. I never had the bars. Wish I did. I probably would have loved them. Even though I’m in my mid 30s and the products now called Breakfast Essentials, I still call them Carnation Instant Breakfast because that’s the name I grew on. As a teen I lived the drinks. With the name change and the ever policy changes of the FDA, I’m on the fence about trying the Breakfast Essentials!

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