The ’90s were hip. They still are hip! Every couple of years, there is a resurgence of some element of ’90s fashion, a reboot of an old television show, or a general rise in interest in the era. Things were brighter, funkier, and individuality was truly in. Of course, the fact that the ’90s were one of the coolest times in history isn’t the only reason why it’s on everyone’s minds.
Children that grew up in that decade have a unique perspective on the world. In a big way, they were the last generation to play outside. It wasn’t uncommon to go out and hit the streets the moment you were free to do so and staying out until the streetlights popped on. Things were very different back then for kids than they are today. One of the main reasons for that is that technology has rapidly expanded in the past two decades more than at any point in human history.
In 1991, almost no one had a cell phone. The only computers in a lot of homes were clunky desktops that sat in a main area of the home. Nowadays, cell phones, laptops, and game consoles are all over people’s houses. Technology touches every part of a kid’s life now, at home and at school, in a way that children of the ’90s never experienced. Technology has also revolutionized almost everything works, from shopping online to going out for dinner, and more.
A majority of young people feel a lot of love for the ’90s because it was much simpler. Everyone always has the perspective that the world was simpler when they were a child but this is largely true for people in this generation. The way the world has changed shape in the lifetime of a ’90s kid has created a special bond for people in that age group. There have been disasters, scientific discoveries, and a slew of major events that have taken place right as ’90s babies are coming of age. It can make the already rocky transition to adulthood seem all the more unwieldy.
Even those who were a little older in the ’90s or missed it by a few years, though, share the same enthusiasm and sense of nostalgia for the era. Fashion has completely changed, along with music, movies, video games, and all aspects of pop culture. The interests of the world have adapted and changed so much that almost nothing is the way that it was before. Trends change so quickly and content is so readily available to shape those trends now because of all of the new technology.
The laid back vibes of the ’90s contrast starkly with the rush everyone seems to be in today. There are some things that we’d probably prefer to forget, like when everyone was frosting their bangs, but some things will just be held dear forever. Nostalgia is really hot right now, especially now that the last few ’90s kids are getting to the age where they’re becoming consumers. It works, though, because the ’90s were just amazing.
But, as neck chains and flannel come back into fashion, we can’t forget the best things of the best decade of all time that are still stuck in the past. Here are 30 things we miss the most about the ’90s.
AIM was the AOL Instant Messenger client and it was by far the best way to communicate with anyone online. It worked like any other IM client but, believe it or not, it was the sleekest looking at the time. It also gave you the options to customize your font style in your messages, set statuses, and made the most obnoxious noises every time you get a notification. There’s just nothing like it out there today, unfortunately. The day that Skype lets anyone type in lime green, though, then they’ll be on to something.
It’s a shame that most people’s idea of an arcade now is a large chain like Dave & Buster’s. Places like that are fun but they will never compare to the noisy, dark, funky-carpeted little holes in the wall that we had in the ’90s. Arcades were the cool place to be back in the day and it’s sad that there aren’t that many left now. The closest that you can get to a real arcade now is in the back of a sketchy pizza buffet. The only real perk of arcades being so vastly different now is that they started serving beer and chicken wings. Can’t beat that!
Beanie Babies will always be the one stuffed animal craze to rule them all. These collectible little animals were going to make everyone rich one day… Remember that? They came out in Happy Meals, special varieties, and in limited quantities. Because everyone wanted them, you could hardly buy them anywhere and they became a hot collectible as soon as everyone caught on that they were scarce. They are still collectible, with some selling for thousands of dollars online, but the thing we really miss is just how crazy everyone went over them.
Body glitter was never a very practical trend but it was such a fun one. There was spray-on glitter, roll-on glitter, glitter dust, glittery sheer tops so you didn’t have to actually put any of this sticky mess on your skin, glitter lip gloss… the list truly goes on. It’s obvious that the world misses this one based on the popularity of highlighting and skin jewels making a comeback. Nothing says the ’90s quite like finding glitter everywhere after a weekend at the skating rink. If you’re going out to shine, you might as well do your part in bringing this one back.
There was a weird fascination in the ’90s with candy that would start as something good and then turn into bubble gum. For what it’s worth, Razzles were pretty good but nothing tops the sweet powdery goodness of the Hubba Bubba Bubble Jug. As the powder got wet by being in your mouth, if you managed to dump it in there, it would gradually turn into a gum that you could chew. It wasn’t great quality gum but the flavor of the powder was amazing! It also just takes us back to the days when dumping pure sugar in your face was socially acceptable.
Collecting things is another weird thing that just kind of happened in the ’90s. There were collectibles for every major movie that came out, every theme park, and every big event. Almost every cabinet was full of these cups, which now line the shelves of almost every local thrift store. There probably weren’t two matching mugs in most ’90s kids cabinets and it always felt super cool watching The Little Mermaid while sipping Sunny D from your special Ariel cup from McDonald’s. More serious collectors even had display cases for their stash.
Crayola Stamps Markers
These markers were double-ended with little felt stamps on the other end that just used the inky from inside the marker. They were easily the coolest part of art class because most kids didn’t have a set of their own at home. It was always a race to make sure that you got the heart that hadn’t been squished down too hard and still worked, making sure you got the perfect finishing touch on your latest masterpiece. We wish these hadn’t died off so suddenly, it would be a great way to jazz up your signature.
These cookies were the best cookies that you could imagine. They were crispy vanilla cookies that you could dip into a sugary icing filled with sprinkles. They had a little spice to them that balanced perfectly with the straight sugar goop with crunchy sugar that came with them. It was just the best snack there was. Rumor has it that several other countries still sell these, which leaves us wondering why we had our one true love snatched away from us so early in life. More rumors have stirred that they may be making a comeback in 2020, but the minute that they do, we’re hopping all the way to the grocery store.
Friends is one of those weird shows that was only good if you didn’t pay too much attention. Ross was a jerk, Rachel was selfish, Phoebe and Joey seem to just make money out of thin air, and everyone’s children were just left completely alone all the time, apparently. Even though it had its problems, it was the hit show of the time and people still love it. It ran for ten seasons and it was a huge event when it was taken off the air. We’ll have to see if the reunion makes up for all the lost time between now and 2004.
The Furby was a fresh take on the concept of a virtual pet and what made this one so much cooler than all the ones that came before it was their deep soulless eyes that could never blink quite right. Oh, and it talks! When the Furby came out, it was the coolest thing on the market and every kid had to have one right away. They were almost like Hatchimals if Hatchimals could talk even after you took out their batteries. Whatever these funky owl-chinchilla guys were, things haven’t been the same since they dropped off toy store shelves and returned to their home planet.
Grunge music was huge in the ’90s and interestingly enough, this subgenre of rock music was born out of nostalgia as well. Murk seventies-inspired guitar, slower vocals, and the same ideals as punk music took over the music scene in the mid-80s and reigned for over a decade. Grunge music fell off with the tragic death of Kurt Cobain, frontman of what is arguably the greatest grunge band to ever exist, Nirvana. We hope to see another alt-rock revival soon. Artists like Marisa and the Moths, Hello Yello, and Hop Along are doing their best to make it happen.
Hi-C Ecto Cooler
Hi-C juice boxes were all delicious but this one was the best one. It was released around the time that Ghostbusters came out as a promotional item so it wasn’t on the shelves for long. It was an orange-tangerine juice drink that was somehow lime green. It was something that blew our minds as kids and the flavor was great. It was a little bit more sour than Orange Lava Burst because of the kick of tangerine but it wasn’t as acidic as other similar juices on the market. It was delicious. There are a few sealed ones for sale on eBay but we’re not going to chance it.
We miss these less for the functionality of them, which left a lot to be desired, but the sheer novelty of it. Musicians now come out with special toys and other promotional items but Hit Clips were just so much better. Each cartridge would have one minute of one song on it and you would pop it into the battery-powered player and pump up the tunes. This was the most portable way to listen to music at the time and they made a sick accessory clipped onto your chains or your keys. They were a massive status symbol, though, because paying $3.99 to listen to a sound clip on repeat was absolutely ridiculous.
Homemade Treats at School Parties
While this wasn’t officially banned until around 2013-2016, it came to a screeching halt right at the beginning of the 2000s in most places. For Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Halloween, students used to bring in tons of goodies that their parents had to scramble to put together at the very last minute (Sorry, Mom!), but they were delicious! You never knew what you were going to get and it was way better than the store-bought cupcakes you usually got. Schools started banning this in 2001 and slowly, that spread to encompass most of the country. Now, we actually have to go to someone’s house to eat their baked goods? No thanks.
These just need to come back. It’s legitimately a struggle to convince leggings to stay inside your favorite pair of ankle boots without them starting to bunch at the top and send your fashion sense 40 years back in time. These were kind of ugly and cheesy looking as workout gear but the practical application of them still wasn’t lost. The hook under your foot kept your leggings pulled down where they were supposed to be and they were perfect. Of course, when they come back, are we going to start having the “leggings aren’t socks” argument?
Before there were tweens showing off their eos collections on YouTube, long before YouTube itself, there were Lip Smackers. This brand of chapstick and lip gloss was made specifically for children and always had a broad variety of original and licensed flavors ranging from everything like root beer float all the way to Kit Kat. There were Hershey’s Lip Smackers, Pepsi Lip Smackers, Disney themed Lip Smackers, and heaps of others. There was always a rush you got when you opened up your stocking on Christmas to see a fresh pack waiting at the bottom.
Lisa Frank was the brand name of the most fun and funky school supplies that you could buy. They had everything that kids loved like animals, bright colors, and plenty of sparkles. These designs were all over notebooks, binders, folders, and all sorts of other academic essentials. You can still buy them every time stores stock up for back to school and there are coloring books that are pretty easy to find, so the brand hasn’t died. The widespread use of it has, though, and we would love to see a little more of it.
Burning CDs and, even more recently, making playlists for someone have been the sweet gestures to share music. Before there were CDs, people made mixtapes. We miss them because they felt so much more special. Knowing that someone had used their tape recorder to record a couple of songs on the radio or off one of their records was just incredible. We all understood the effort that went into it and all the waiting that had to happen. Think about how it would feel to know that someone had taken the time to perfectly record a ringtone for you because they heard your favorite song on the radio, but with a full album’s worth of songs.
Mr. Sketch Scented Markers
Smelling markers now is extremely frowned upon. There is probably an episode of My Strange Addiction that details just how bad for you King Sharpie fumes can be but we didn’t have to worry about it with these bad boys. The blueberry or bubblegum were the best ones, but there was lime, cherry, grape, lemon, licorice, and even chocolate. They didn’t really smell on the paper once dry but sticking the end up your nose always did the trick. They were pretty hard to color with though because of the way that they saturated the paper.
Usually, having something floating in your drink is a big red flag (unless you’re a fan of aloe, chia seeds, or the superior orange juice). It was a red flag back when Orbitz came out too, no one seemed to be very interested in the “texturally enhanced” fruit drinks that came out of Canada. They were introduced in 1997 and then disappeared in 1998. The reason we miss these is that half of the ’90s babies were never old enough to try them and misery loves company. These little ingestible lava lamps had little balls of gelatin floating in them.
Pringles Carrying Cases
We loved accessories way more in the ’90s than we do now and that’s evident by little gems like these. These were hard carrying cases that held a serving of Pringles potato chips. There were all different colors and they came in gloss and glitter finishes, and there were even some transparent ones (because everything was back then). You could mix and match your lids because they were all shaped the same and they helped keep your precious snack time treat from getting crushed in your lunchbox. We also miss snack time, now that we mention it. Now, students aren’t really allowed to eat in class.
Waking up every Saturday morning and trudging to the living room with your bowl of cereal was an experience. You had all day to do whatever you wanted and you had good cartoons to watch. Shows now just aren’t made the same. The comedy is not as good, the animation styles all look the same. Back in the ’90s, we had all kinds of interesting shows to watch like All That, Clarissa Explains It All, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Doug, and more. After the rampant success of Spongebob in 1999, shows started trying to emulate it too much and fell short of the late Steven Hillenberg’s expertise.
Saved by the Bell
Can you tell we used to watch a lot of TV? Saved By The Bell was a masterpiece of a sitcom that aired from 1989 to 1993. It followed the story of a group of high school kids through all sorts of different situations. There were a few spin-offs in the form of movies and other shows; it is even seeing a reboot sometime in 2020. It was voted one of the best school shows of all time and was widely successful. It was just a great show, much in the style of Boy Meets World with a much more lighthearted feel.
Shopping catalogs were everywhere in the ’90s because print ads were still popular. Catalogs would come from clothing stores, electronic stores, toy stores, and even random companies that sold everything by catalog. Whenever they would come in the mail, it wasn’t uncommon for kids to hover around mom for several hours until she had finished looking. It was really entertaining and it was a great way to do some preemptive Christmas list creation. If you feel the same blues we do, Oriental Trading still exists if you want to buy all the ridiculous things you never could as a kid.
We’re almost sure that when people say that beauty is pain, these are exactly what they are talking about. Slap bracelets were thin metal bands that had designs on them, some of them even had rubber coatings on them so they couldn’t hurt you as bad. When you took it off, you could stretch it out and the way the metal was bent would allow it to stay straight and then you’d slap it down on your wrist to put it on. We peeled a few open and you know what we found inside? Recycled pieces of tape measure! That’s why they had such force.
The inside of a Taco Bell in 1993 was the peak aesthetic for the ’90s. Mood boards and aesthetics now have nothing on the absolute vibe of strolling into a Taco Bell that looked like this and filling up your solo jazz water cup with Mountain Dew when the cashier wasn’t looking. Taco Bell is a restaurant that has always had kind of a cult following, so this is a huge chunk of nostalgia for anyone that ever had the pleasure of dining there back when they looked like this. We can’t really vouch for the food (looking at you, Bell Beefer).
This is a little bit weird because ads are ubiquitous and getting more obnoxious year by year but ’90s commercials are a force to be reckoned with. They were just completely weird. You’re not going to see anyone’s head turn into a banana or a man dressed as a popsicle showing up in your room to give you free ice cream on TV any time soon. They were just weird and fun and full of completely unsuitable toys that we all begged our parents for. Even though ads were a lot longer back then, they were at least pretty fun to watch.
Back in the ’90s, there was even something called Mall Culture. It was just what people did when they weren’t at the arcade or skating rink. People would dress up just to go to the mall and show off their fashion sense while they window shopped. It was normal to just hang out for hours in or around the mall. They were still places to shop back then but they were about way more than that, an idea that has been lost over the years. The mall used to be so much cooler than just another store and that’s something that is so ephemeral that it’s hard to really put it into words.
A lot of slang terms get kicked to the curb over the years and that’s honestly a total buzzkill. It’s so weird when you say something fly and everyone starts bugging out. It makes us feel old when we used to think that we were all that and a bag of chips. It’s natural for languages to change over time along with popular culture but it’s totally bunk that no one seems down to bring back some of the dopest slang of all time. That’s totally going to stop us from trying… NOT!
It’s so strange to think that there are people alive who don’t even know what a VHS tape is, let alone the wonder of perusing shelf after shelf to find the perfect flick for Friday night. For most people, streaming is the wave now. Even renting movies has been completely changed by technology with the advent of Redbox and online rentals. Blockbuster was a magical place and even going there was a treat. This is just one of those things that just isn’t coming back, either. There are some video rental stores still in existence but nothing really compares anymore because of how accessible movies are compared to back in the day.