Tiffani Thiessen still indulges in her favorite ’80s snacks: 'I was an Abba-Zaba or Hot Tamales girl'

Actress Tiffani Thiessen says her favorite snacks from her childhood include Cheez-It crackers, Abba-Zaba candy bars and Hot Tamales candy. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)
Actress Tiffani Thiessen says her favorite snacks from her childhood include Cheez-It crackers, Abba-Zaba candy bars and Hot Tamales candy. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)
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Because food connects us all, Yahoo Life is serving up a heaping plateful of table talk with people who are passionate about what's on their menu in Deglazed, a series about food.

Tiffani Thiessen has "never met a wine [she] didn't like." In fact, the 48-year-old actress tells Yahoo Life that a good rosé or Sancerre is part of her ultimate comfort food combo. When she's feeling stressed or under the weather, she also turns to a dairy-filled delight.

"Give me anything with cheese," she says, "and a side of wine."

The Saved by the Bell star and host of cooking fail show Deliciousness says she's had her own share of epic kitchen fails. The dinner disaster that haunts her the most occurred a few Thanksgivings ago.

"I had done a lot of my cooking beforehand because I'm such a planner," she says. "All of a sudden that morning, my ovens were not working. Nothing was working. I don't know what was happening."

"I literally still had to put the bird in and start doing last-minute recipes, so I called my neighbors next door who I knew were out of town for the holiday and had a house-sitter," Thiessen continues. "I said, 'By chance are you using your kitchen? Because if not, I'm coming over.' I had to bus all my food back and forth using their kitchen, but I did it. I got a lot of cardio in that day."

Thiessen with her daughter, Harper. (Photo: Tiffani Thiessen)
Thiessen with her daughter, Harper. (Photo: Tiffani Thiessen)

While she counts holiday meals among her favorites to cook, Theissen, who has two children with husband Brady Smith, also has a soft spot for the theme nights she and her family routinely plan during the week. "We love pizza nights," she says. "We have taco nights and sushi nights, which are really fun."

Still, like any mom, Thiessen keeps things real in the kitchen. "But it's usually my kids telling me what they're in the mood for and then, of course, I force them to come in and cook with me because I'm like, 'If this is what you want, you have to help,'" she adds.

Thiessen also uses dinnertime as a way to chat with her family about their lives. She explains that as a child, her family used dinner table conversations as a way to stay "connected," something she continues to do with her own kids. "We would talk about our day, we would talk about things that were extremely sensitive, which I think, when you have children, those types of talks sometimes can be hard," she says. "I generally pick dinnertime if it's a family sort of conversation – I think food kind of relaxes, and we can reminisce about the day and talk about the good and the bad."

In her cookbook, Pull Up A Chair: Recipes from My Family to Yours, Thiessen shares recipes from her own childhood dinner table, which she's tweaked a bit. "I took a lot of my family recipes and elevated them," she says. "Beef Stroganoff and things like that looked a lot different when I grew up — like dog food, really, to a certain degree." Her next cookbook, Here We Go Again, releases in 2023 and will tackle using up leftovers in creative ways.

The former host of Dinner at Tiffani's says if she could have any guest sit at her table, it would be the late Princess Diana. "I think she was an icon, of course, with regards to fashion and what she stood for and her politics and charity work and as a mom," she says. "It would be Princess Diana for sure."

As someone who rose to fame in the ’80s, Thiessen has a soft spot for the snacks she grew up eating on set. "I used to love — and will still indulge in, if they're on a snack tray somewhere — Cheez-Its," she shares. "I actually have a recipe with cheddar crackers in my new book. Candy-wise, I was an Abba-Zaba or Hot Tamales girl."

Theissen spoke with Yahoo Life as part of her partnership with the National Meningitis Association's It's About Time: Help Stop the Clock on Meningitis campaign, where she hopes to encourage parents to talk to their kids and their doctors about immunization. "I have two children and I have an almost 12-year-old girl," she says. "For me, there’s been a lot of very big talks in our house, especially because she's a pre-teen ... last year she got her first vaccine for meningococcal meningitis which is recommended by the CDC at age 11 or 12, with the second at age 16."

"I grew up in a family that very much believes in science and believes vaccines are here to help protect us," she adds, "so I wanted to jump on board and help them spread the word. I'm here to talk about it and help educate a little bit about why vaccines are here."

When her own kids aren't feeling well, Thiessen says there's something special she makes for them at home. "A lot of times when they're sick, food isn't really what they want," she admits. "I think a lot of times it's they want their parents and a good snuggle and maybe a little hot tea. My kids love tea, actually."

"My mom used to make me hot toddies all the time," she shares. "Who knows if they worked or not, so we stick with tea."

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