‘90s kids had a colorful and unique childhood unlike any other generations before or after them. From Tamagachis to boy bands, there are some very outdated trends that will forever define the ‘90s era. It is said that ‘90s kids very likely had the best childhood. This list is packed with some of the best ‘90s fads that will never come back but are extremely comical to look back on.
‘90s kids got to grow up in a society that wasn’t enslaved to or felt rushed by technology. They appreciated every game invented whether it was a cheap form of fortune telling or impersonating Olympic gymnasts on monkey bars. They had all the time in the world to appreciate the simplest of things like little pieces of cardboard circles and writing letters by hand. Also, they grew up watching the best cartoons and the cheesiest family-friendly TV shows.
It’s hard to imagine that only two decades have gone by since the ‘90s because today’s kids are growing up in a totally different culture and society that is mainly shaped by the digital era. However, ’90s kids will always cherish their childhood that was the very best time of their lives.
25. Steve Urkel
You probably don’t remember the name of the show (which is “Family Matters”), the theme song (which starts, “It’s a rare condition in this day and age to read any good news…”), or the names of any other characters, but you can never forget everything you know about Steve Urkel. The way he always asked, “Did I do that?” after every disaster he caused. His annoying laugh followed by two snorts. His tight suspenders attached to his high-water jeans. The fact that he was torn between two lovers. Oh, and you’ll never how he invented a transformation chamber that transformed him into a hotter version of himself, Stefan.
’90s kids will never forget that D.A.R.E. stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. D.A.R.E. was a nationwide effort to prevent drug abuse among students across the country. At the time, you probably didn’t think it was weird that you went through the D.A.R.E. program in elementary school. In fourth grade, all you knew about drugs were cigarettes. You were too busy collecting POGs and playing MASH to care. But D.A.R.E. was pretty cool and you even got a free shirt, a simple black T-shirt with the red letters “D.A.R.E.” and the phrase “To keep kids off drugs” written across it.
23. Tamagotchis & Giga Pets
Tamagotchis and Giga Pets were the biggest hype in elementary, middle school, and high school. Even college kids were into these digital pets. They were small enough to fit in the palm of your hands and also came with a key ring so that you could hook it onto your backpack. And you didn’t have one just to look cool, they were actually pretty fun to play with. It gave you a close-to-real experience of having a pet without having to touch real poop. These things would beep whenever your pet was hungry or bored and you’d feel legitimately awful if your pet died.
And how can you forget AOL dial up Internet? Oh yeah. Remember when you had to get the whole family off the phone lines just so you could look something up online for a research paper? It was terrible. It would take at least ten minutes (and sometimes up to twenty) just to get online. It was like entering the gates of heaven once you got a successful connection. And once better forms of Internet service came out, your parents didn’t want to switch over because AOL was so cheap (sometimes free), so you didn’t go online much. Those were the days when kids weren’t glued to a tech device of some kind.
21. Tether Ball
Do these still exist? It was simply the best game ever in elementary school. Sure, you’d have to spend your whole recess just waiting in line to play, but just one turn was enough. It was a sport that anyone could be good at if they knew exactly how to hit the ball. And it was always someone you didn’t consider to be super athletic who would dominate the game every time. They weren’t just good at the game, but they also were good at making up random rules. Being tetherball champ was a big deal. Sadly, too many parents are concerned these days about their kids potentially choking and dying that it was eliminating altogether.
20. Lisa Frank
It’s easy to see why Lisa Frank was a hot ticket item among all of the elementary school girls. Lisa Frank accessories embodied all things girly, from blue-spotted Dalmatians and purple dolphins to magical rainbows and unicorns. The designs were bright and colorful and had absolutely no meaning at all. All you needed to have in order to feel cool was a two-pocket folder. And if you were really cool, you’d also have the Lisa Frank binder or pencil pouch. Lisa Frank (who is a real person) made you look forward to going to school to show off your cute new school supplies because that was all she made – school supplies!
Every kid owned a Walkman. It was the top item you wrote on your wish list to Santa and would get incredibly excited about even though it wasn’t very expensive. It was your way of listening to your Blink 182, Christina Aguilera, and TLC CD’s without anyone yelling at you to turn your music down. Having a Walkman made the walk or bus ride home from school a little more bearable. And remember the headsets that came with them? They had an adjustable plastic band and foam ear covers that made you feel like you were living the big life. They were the best invention ever next to AOL dial up Internet.
18. Captain Planet
This was the best TV show to rush home from school and watch. Captain Planet was a blue superhero with green hair who spent his time helping five kids (the ‘Planeteers’) save the planet from pollution. Everyone had a favorite ‘Planeteer’ – earth, wind, water, fire, and heart (random, guess the other ones didn’t have enough heart?). And who could ever forget the catchy theme song? “Captain Planet, he’s our hero. Gonna take pollution down to zero!” Yes, this show turned children into nerds. This show was brilliant though because kids actually started to take interest in conservation and doing their part to clean the environment around them.
17. Monkey Bars
It’s a rare sight to see any metal bars on a playground these days. Back then, ’90s kids would line up on the blacktop during recess just to have a turn at using the monkey bars. Some of the coolest tricks included hanging upside-down by your knees, swinging off the bars with a huge leap, and doing Iron-man-style chin-ups. Every ’90s kid wanted to be a gymnast at least once in their childhood. We looked up to people like Tara Lapinski (remember her?). It’s a shame that since the ’90s, perhaps one too many lawsuits have been filed and now these classic pieces of playground equipment are extinct.
16. Sega Genesis
At one point, Sega Genesis was so much cooler than Nintendo. Sega had all of the best video games like Sonic the Hedgehog and Mortal Kombat. The experience is comparable to that of today’s video games, except much simpler of course. Every kid raced home after school to either catch the best after school specials or advance in Sonic. Sometimes, your friend would even come over to challenge you in a game of Mortal Kombat and you’d both partake in an intense battle of whose thumbs were faster. And you didn’t play forever either because your parents would pull the plug after an hour max because that was when technology was viewed as evil.
15. Boy Bands
Who can forget all of the boy bands that sprouted from the ‘90s? Some of the most popular boy bands included The Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, and Boyz 2 Men. Today’s generation of fan girls would never associate teen heartthrob Justin Timberlake with the popular boy band NSYNC. Every girl had their favorite band member, several posters hanging on their walls, and every line to every song memorized. This was way before One Direction was born. Almost every song played on the radio was either from a boy band or Britney Spears. Now, you only hear those iconic songs played in Chinese food buffets.
14. Jim Carrey’s Prime
Jim Carrey was every kid’s favorite star to watch in the ‘90s. He came out with all of his best movies in the ‘90s including The Mask, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1 & 2), Dumb and Dumber, and more. Perhaps one of his most popular roles was as The Riddler in Batman Forever. He did an incredible job. No one can ever forget his iconic line, “Somebody stop me.” The ‘90s were good to Jim Carrey. Now, people just find him annoying. He bore a different style of comedy that was almost overly exaggerated and not always funny, but just strange.
Raise your hand if you almost forgot about POGs, everyone’s favorite forgotten game. They were short-lived but so popular that they were once part of McDonald’s Happy Meals. POGs were small, cardboard circles with various designs. One side would say “POGs” and the other side would be an image of some random sort. The object of the game was to stack up a bunch of POGs and use one POG to slam down and see how many could flip over. The game repeated until there were no POGs left in the stack and the player with the most flipped-over POGs won. It required absolutely no skill or athletic ability, and it was awesome.
12. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
This was a TV sitcom that every ‘90s kid grew up watching. This show was how Will Smith became everyone’s favorite actor. Everyone who grew up watching this show can recall most of the lyrics to the famous theme song (or rap) which starts off, “In West Philadelphia born and raised, on the playground is where I spent most of my days…” They also remember Carlton, the nerdy cousin who was known for his iconic dance moves. Will Smith was the epitome of cool. Everyone either wanted to be like them or wanted to have a friend that was just like him.
11. Fortune Tellers
This was during a time when kids had enough patience to write complete sentences. It was pure fun to ruin someone’s future by forcing them into a game of Fortune Teller. If you were lucky, you’d end up with something like, “You’re going to marry Justin Timberlake and live in a glass mansion.” This game also caused a lot of tears because someone mean would always write something like, “You’re going to get hit by a car tomorrow.” Teachers eventually had to start confiscating Fortune Tellers because of the trouble they caused on the playgrounds, and also because kids were making them in class instead of doing school work.
Before we had cell phones and texting, there were pagers. Pagers were small enough to clip onto your belt and considered to be fairly high tech in the ‘90s. Basically, your pager would beep every time you received an important voicemail. It’s understandable why working professionals might have benefited from pagers, but a bit confusing as to why kids would need them in middle and high school. That was the case in the ‘90s. Kids would get a hold of a pager and encourage their friends to ‘drop them a line.’ It was basically the text messaging or letter writing of its time.
Scrunchies were a fad of the past that will probably never come back in fashion. Scrunchies were basically just an elastic band covered in a layer of cloth that made it look much bulkier than the modern basic black hair tie. They came in various styles from plain white cotton to glittery blue crochet with beads and embellishments. You could wear a different scrunchie to perfectly match your outfit, or you could also wear the same one every single day. They were a staple in every girl’s collection of accessories and girls of all ages wore them from children to adults.
8. Paper Bag Textbook Covers
This was the best way to protect your hardcover textbooks that cost sixty bucks to replace if you ruined one. The best part about the paper bag textbook covers was that they were free. You just needed to grab some paper bags from the local grocery store, or if your teacher was nice, she’d get some for the whole class. Then, you covered your textbooks either at home or as a class. It was super easy to do and you could decorate the cover with markers when you were done to make sure you had the cutest looking books. But there was always that rich kid in class that used store-bought elastic book covers with tie-dye designs.
7. VHS Tapes
Before cable and streaming, every house had a collection of VHS tapes from your favorite Disney movies to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. You’d have to make sure each VHS was completely rewound before watching a movie, a process that took a couple of minutes. And there was no real way to skip to just the exact scene you wanted to watch. You’d have to just keep playing and hitting the fast-forward button until you got there. VHS are classics. They taught kids how to be patient. Then, every once in a while, your Uncle Bill would record something over your favorite movie and ruin your childhood forever.
6. The Macarena
No one knew the words to this song except for the line “Hey Macarena,” but everyone remembers the cheesy dance moves. It was the “Gangnam Style” of the ‘90s but without YouTube. The Macarena was everywhere and people of all ages were doing it. It was just so catchy and the dance was easy to do. You didn’t need to have any rhythm or be a good dancer in general in order to be good at the Macarena. Your cat could do it. You couldn’t hear the song played without doing the dance. Yes, people would be touching their heads, shoulders, and hips in the grocery store aisles.
Apparently, these are coming back due to the recent release of the newest Trolls movie, but they were originally another ‘90s thing. Every girl brought a Troll to school for show and tell at least once. They were such awesome toys to have. They didn’t wear any clothes, they had a random gem on their bellies, and they had awesome hair that was fun to brush, tie, and braid. Oh yeah, and cut! It’s odd that kids were so fascinated by these figurines that looked like a mockery of old people. Their faces weren’t very cute and they actually looked kind of creepy, but we loved them all the same.
4. Floppy Discs
“Did you save your work?” Your computer teacher would ask you every time you finished working on the bulky tube computer. Floppy discs were the only way to store anything you were working on. This was way before CDs, thumb drives, Google Drive, iCloud, and DropBox. Every kid was required to purchase a couple for computer class and you could also pair your floppy discs with colorful plastic cases. Kids these days have it so good. The computer will save your work for you, and there’s almost always a way to retrieve lost work in the event of a sudden computer crash or power outage.
3. Professionally Folded Letters
More popular among middle and high school kids, notes weren’t just written in and out of class, but they were also folded to perfection. With Facebook and text messaging, kids these days will never know the lost art of fine letter folding. There were many popular folds, with the most important be the classic rectangular pocket fold. Then, you’d use your milky gel pens to write a ‘to’ and ‘from’ in your best handwriting. Folded letters weren’t just fun to make but also fun to receive. Sometimes, the letter didn’t even have much to it, but it was just cute in general.
2. Milky Gel Pens
Milky gel pens were born in and popularized by the ‘90s. Not only did you need them to write and decorate your professionally folded letters, but you used them to doodle on your hands as well as your friends’ hands. They were so smooth to write with and came in various colors including metallic silver and gold, which were the most popular colors. Milky gel pens were just so fun to write with that you’d use them for your homework if your teacher allowed. The only problem was that they’d quickly run out of ink and were usually fairly expensive to replace.
1. Scruff McGruff
Here’s an address every ‘90s kid will never forget: Scruff McGruff Chicago, Illinois 60652. And if you’re a true ‘90s kid, you probably can’t say it without singing it. If you don’t remember who Scruff McGruff is, he was a crime-solving dog dressed in an investigator’s coat who dubbed the famous line, “Let’s take a bite out of crime.” He was popularized by cheesy commercials where kids would find guns in the house and didn’t know what to do or be offered cigarettes and other dangerous situations. Scruff McGruff published magazines that were supposed to help kids figure out what to do in similar situations.
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