50 Things Only People Who Lived in the 1990s Will Remember
The '90s may be gone, but the decade is anything but forgotten.
Anyone who lived through the 1990s shares a fond nostalgia for all things associated with the era of frosted tips and Y2K panic. You can still practically taste your favorite Lip Smackers flavor, you remember the thrill of trying to get your call answered on Total Request Live, and you still wonder if you could have actually made millions on those old Beanie Babies you eventually donated to Goodwill. If you long for the days of hair mascara, Furbys, and dial-up internet, then read on for the things everyone who survived the ’90s remembers.
The Pain of Seeing Your Tamagotchi Die
The digital pets, which first hit shelves in Japan in 1996, quickly became a global phenomenon following their worldwide release the following year. Kids whose parents got them one of these needy little keychain creatures may have been delighted at first. But who doesn’t remember the crushing feeling of finding out that their digital pet had died because they didn’t find time to feed it between math class and gym?
Singing Along to the AOL Dial-Up Noise
While having the world at your fingertips in just seconds today is pretty cool, there was something a little bit fun about the anticipation that came with logging into AOL and singing along to its chorus of screeches as you waited for the homepage to pop up. Unless your mom picked up the phone, of course.
Drinking Hi-C Ecto Cooler
Your parents may not have let you drink soda, but you were pretty good at convincing them that Hi-C’s toxic-slime colored Ecto Cooler was practically a health food. It was fruit-flavored, after all! And even if you missed out in the ’90s, the recent Ghostbusters reboot means there’s still plenty of the stuff available on Amazon.
Wondering if Ross and Rachel Would Ever Get Back Together
Your own relationships may have had their ups and downs, but they were nothing compared to the constant will-they-won’t-they dynamic between Ross and Rachel on Friends. Yes, we know they were on a break, but how long would it last?!
Trying to Determine Which Spice Girl You Were Most Like
Before people were dividing themselves into Carries, Mirandas, Charlottes, and Samanthas, they were trying to figure out which Spice Girl’s style and personality were most like their own. Of course, this led to countless fights over group Halloween costumes, but those hilarious pictures of you and your friends in sky-high platforms and Union Jack mini-dresses were well worth the drama.
Getting Excited to Show Off Your Trapper Keeper at School
Getting new back to school clothing was cool, but getting a new Trapper Keeper (like this one available on Amazon) made you feel like you were going to rule the school in the coming year. From the interior pencil pocket to the satisfying crunch of the Velcro on its exterior flap, having one of these stylish binders made you almost look forward to hitting the books again. Almost.
The Joy of Getting the Last Copy of a Movie at Blockbuster
Whether you were eager to scare yourself silly with a copy of The Sixth Sense or crack up with yet another screening of Groundhog Day, there was an unrivaled feeling of joy when you went to Blockbuster and found that not only was the movie you wanted in stock, but you got the last one.
Watching OJ Simpson’s Low-Speed Car Chase and Subsequent Trial Play Out on TV
Prior to 1994, a Ford Bronco was just a car. After OJ Simpson and his friend, former NFL player Al Cowlings, led the cops on a low-speed car chase through Los Angeles following the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, the car became inextricably linked to the racial tension, fear, and curiosity that gripped both his supporters and those who thought him guilty during the subsequent murder trial.
Talking on a Cell Phone the Size of a Brick
While your average smartphone today may fit inside the pocket of your jeans, in the ‘90s, having a cell phone at all was pretty novel. And while early Motorola iterations weighed up to two pounds and were roughly the size of a standard brick, that didn’t stop tech enthusiasts at the time from embracing them wholeheartedly.
Wearing a Plastic Raincoat to Stay Dry
In the ‘90s, there was no need to decide between showing off your cute outfit and staying dry on a rainy day. Thanks to the proliferation of see-through raincoats on the market—frequently purchased at stores like Wet Seal and Contempo Casuals—you could give anyone eager to know what you were wearing a sneak peek. (And fortunately for those who missed out, designers like Tommy Hilfiger are capitalizing on our ’90s nostalgia and still selling them at stores like Macy’s today.)
Coveting Your Friends’ Super Nintendo Systems
Released in the United States in 1991, the Super Nintendo quickly became the most popular gaming system since the Atari. With games like Super Mario World, Street Fighter II, and Donkey Kong Country, it was the next best thing to an arcade. And despite its popularity, the system’s $199 price tag was relatively reasonable, especially by today’s standards.
Wearing Hard Candy Rings on Every Finger
Stylish kids of the ‘90s would rush to their local department store cosmetics counters to load up on Hard Candy nail polishes whenever a new shipment came in (though today they’re easily purchased at your local Walmart). Sure, the polish had cool pastel and metallic colors and slightly risqué advertising, but it was those plastic rings on its nail polish bottles that really made the brand stand out.
The Excitement of Getting a New Lisa Frank Notebook
What did neon colors, adorable puppies, and algebra class have in common in the ‘90s? They were all associated with Lisa Frank school supplies, the only back-to-school gear that rivaled the Trapper Keeper in popularity for ‘90s kids. (Luckily, you can still get some on Amazon today.)
Strapping on Your Doc Martens to Show Off Your Alternative Side
Whether you were channeling your inner Lilith Fair fan or simply emulating Daria’s iconic style, Doc Martens were a staple in countless closets in the ‘90s. The clunky combat boots went just as well with a pair of ripped jeans as they did with a baby doll dress.
Eagerly Taking Pollution Down to Zero with Captain Planet
Captain Planet may have been an unlikely hero, but to people growing up in the ‘90s, he was an icon. Children of the ‘90s couldn’t wait to see what adventures in environmentalism this eco-crusader got up to every week—or show off what they learned when it came time to take out the recycling.
Having a Huge Crush on At Least One Saved by the Bell Cast Member
Whether you loved Zack Morris’ laid-back style, couldn’t get enough of Lisa Turtle’s scrunchies, or dreamed of sitting in the stands at Slater’s wrestling match, for young adults in the ‘90s, there was at least one Saved by the Bell cast member who caught their eye.
Wishing Your Dad Was as Cool as Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire
Sure, your dad was fine, save for the corny jokes and embarrassing socks-with-sandals combo he wore in the summer. But would he dress up like a British nanny and stick his face in a cake just to spend time with you? Doubtful.
Thinking Zima Was the Height of Adult Sophistication
Beer and wine were fine, but if you wanted to host a truly epic get-together in the ‘90s, having a few six-packs of Zima on ice was non-negotiable. And if you want to host a ’90s party today, you can still pick some up at Walmart.
Begging Your Parents for a Nickelodeon Radio
If you were a kid in the 1990s, having a Nickelodeon radio alarm clock was just about the coolest bedroom accessory out there. Sure, it still went off at 6 a.m. to get you up for school, but being able to pull that little lever to hit snooze somehow made those early mornings a whole lot more bearable. You can even still purchase these brightly-colored clocks today on Amazon—albeit for nearly $500.
The Slap Bracelet Ban
Did they occasionally leave a mark on your wrist? Sure. Were they basically just sticker-wrapped tape measures? Definitely. Did you still mourn the loss of your beloved slap bracelet when your teacher deemed it “too dangerous” for the classroom? 100 percent. And despite your teachers’ insistence that they were practically weapons, they’re still available at Walmart today.
Practicing the Macarena in the Mirror
If you don’t know the moves to the Macarena, did you really live through the ‘90s? Come on, even Colin Powell knew how to do it.
Having a Lip Smacker for Every Day of the Week
The ‘90s spawned plenty of bad makeup trends, from frosted lipstick to hair mascara, but don’t count Bonne Bell Lip Smackers among them. These lightly-pigmented lip balms—which you can still get at Walmart, actually—were a must-have for cosmetics enthusiasts in the ‘90s. The scent of the Dr. Pepper lip balm still conjures instant nostalgia for kids of this era.
Wishing You Lived in a House Like the One on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
The height of sophistication in the ‘90s wasn’t inspired by real royalty—it came from a different kind of prince entirely. Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv’s plant-adorned mansion on The Fresh Prince had countless ‘90s kids begging their moms to shake the family tree and see if there were any rich relatives eager to take them in.
Thinking the Game Boy Color Was the Pinnacle of Tech Innovation
The only thing cooler than having a Game Boy in the ‘90s? Having a Game Boy Color. While its effects may seem a bit dinky by today’s standards, seeing Kirby in his full bubblegum-pink glory or hopping over a bright red mushroom in Super Mario Land on a Game Boy Color was a truly life-changing event.
Being Obsessed with Your Colorful iMac
Sure, your average computer was cool, but if you really wanted to wow your friends in the ‘90s, you splurged on one of the colorful iMacs. Though their functionality wasn’t significantly different than other computers at the time, seeing into the back of your Bondi Blue machine while waiting for Netscape to load felt like an amazing new adventure.
Being Disappointed when Your Discman’s Anti-Skip Protection Didn’t Deliver
Your Discman may have promised to keep your CDs from skipping. It may have even had a locking device on it that looked like it would keep your favorite mix CD safe. But as anyone who tried jogging with one can attest, the that anti-skip protection existed in name only.
Getting Too Spooked by Your Goosebumps Books to Fall Asleep
Your mom warned you. Your dad warned you. Your teachers warned you. Your school librarian warned you. But did you still read Goosebumps before bed, only to find yourself quaking in fear as thoughts of haunted carnivals and maniacal ventriloquist’s dummies ran through your head? Of course. You can even still scare yourself silly today with a retro set of these creepy novels from Scholastic.
Feeling Like a Million Bucks After Getting Frosted Tips
Doing your hair for a big night out in the ‘90s didn’t just mean blow-drying it. For guys who really wanted to impress with their ‘do, copying the frosted tips worn by numerous boy band members was the only way to do it. And if you want a more au courant style, start with these 40 Ways to Have Amazing Hair Over 40.
Knowing All the Words to Weezer’s Blue Album
The ‘90s may have been the heyday of the boy band, but for folks who fancied themselves a little more alternative, Weezer’s Blue Album was the go-to CD for any mood. Feeling upbeat? Put on “Buddy Holly.” Kind of depressed? Play “Say It Ain’t So.” Going through a break-up? Your ex might not be there for you, but “Undone—The Sweater Song” still was.
Wondering How Those Little Gelatin Balls Floated in Orbitz Soda
The ‘90s saw a lot of creativity in the beverage industry, but perhaps nothing was as mind-blowing as Orbitz soda. The clear sugary drink, which had brightly-colored gelatin balls suspended in it, was half-science project, half-beverage, and basically all you would beg your mom for when you went to the grocery store.
Dressing Like Austin Powers for Halloween
Velour suit? Check. Bad fake teeth? Check. Feeling like an international man of mystery when you put on your oversized glasses? Yeah, baby!
Completely Believing Your Beanie Babies Would Make You a Millionaire
Kids of the ‘90s thought there was a practical reason behind collecting Beanie Babies. They were convinced that someday, those limited-edition bears and turtles with the tags still on would be worth a fortune—if they ever got around to listing them on eBay, that is.
Using “Ironic” Wrong, Thanks to Alanis Morissette
If you ask a strict grammarian, getting 10,000 spoons when you need a knife or rain on your wedding day aren’t ironic. They’re just unfortunate circumstances. But Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill told you otherwise, so you used the word to describe basically any bummer of a situation you saw fit.
Singing “The Log Song” from Ren & Stimpy Over and Over
Strange, subversive, and totally addictive, Ren & Stimpy was the ‘90s Nickelodeon cartoon beloved by those who wouldn’t be caught dead watching Rugrats or Rocko’s Modern Life. And for its devotees, “The Log Song” was a real ear worm. Everyone loves a log, after all.
Circling All the Items You Wanted from the Delia’s Catalog
Teens in the ‘90s knew there was no greater excitement than getting a new Delia’s catalog in the mail. You’d pore over the pages like it was Vogue’s September issue, circling items you wanted and then trying to convince your parents that you couldn’t go back to school without rainbow-striped track pants and a closet full of smiley-face crop tops.
Being Shocked by the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky Affair
Though Bill Clinton was known for his charisma long before he entered the Oval Office, it was still shocking to folks who lived through the ‘90s to hear sordid details of a sitting president’s sex life—especially one that involved 20-something intern Monica Lewinsky and not his wife.
Imagining What You Would Do If You Were Left Home Alone Like Kevin McAllister
While going to Paris might seem like more fun than spending the holidays in frigid Chicago by your standards today, if you were a kid in the ‘90s, nothing seemed cooler than having your family forget you at home when they went on vacation—especially if it meant getting to try aftershave, eat endless ice cream sundaes, and fend off harebrained burglars.
Having a List of What Various Pager Codes Meant
Beepers weren’t just for doctors in the ‘90s. If you were cool enough to have one of these high-tech devices at the time, you wore it on your belt with pride. You also definitely kept a list of all the codes you needed to understand the messages you received on it in your pocket.
Being Crushed When Jordan Catalano Revealed His Song Wasn’t About Angela on My So-Called Life
While it only ran for a single season, My So-Called Life was just about the most accurate TV portrayal of life as a young person in the ‘90s. You worried for Rayanne when she got drunk. You cried for Ricky when his family kicked him out. And your heart broke for Angela when it turned out that song Jordan Catalano wrote was just about his car.
Having LA Looks Stocked in Your Medicine Cabinet
In the ‘90s, the spikier and wetter your hair looked, the better. To make sure not a strand went astray, medicine cabinets across the country were stocked with bottles of LA Looks gel, which are still available on Amazon. The product promised a serious hold on your hair and a just-shellacked look. And boy, did it deliver.
Being Terrified by the Temple Guards on Legends of the Hidden Temple
Going on Legends of the Hidden Temple was a dream of countless kids in the 1990s. The only thing stopping them (aside from their parents)? The not-so-minor fear of getting kidnapped by the temple guards.
Secretly Loving Aqua’s “Barbie Girl”
It may have been a silly pop song, but not only do most ‘90s kids know the words to “Barbie Girl” by heart, you probably still get a little pang of nostalgia when you hear it today. Truly, it’s fantastic.
Trying to Figure Out a Magic Eye Picture With the Perfect Squint
Was it just that your eyes focused differently than everyone else’s? Were you cocking your head wrong? Unless you were one of the truly lucky ones for whom Magic Eye pictures immediately appeared, you likely spent hours trying to figure out how everyone else saw a sailboat where you just saw a psychedelic blue blur. (Luckily, if you want to practice your Magic Eye skills today, you can still get the books on Amazon).
Starting Your Sentences with “What’s the deal with…,” Thanks to Seinfeld
Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer weren’t just characters on a TV show—they were such a part of ‘90s life it almost felt like they were viewers’ friends. And while you may not have gone out and bought a pirate shirt to celebrate your love for all things Seinfeld, you definitely borrowed the show’s catch phrases from time to time.
Hearing Tickle Me Elmo’s Laugh in Your Sleep
Parents got in fights over it in malls. Kids wept when they didn’t find it under the Christmas tree. And if you lived through the ‘90s—even if you didn’t play with Tickle Me Elmo yourself, like this one still available today on Amazon—the sound of his high-pitched, mechanical laugh is still probably stuck in your head.
Trying to Hit the High Note in “I Will Always Love You”
The Bodyguard was an undeniable cultural phenomenon when it hit theaters in 1992. The only thing more popular than the movie itself, however, was Whitney Houston’s cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” which remains a karaoke staple for ‘90s enthusiasts to this day.
Joking About Eating Your Meals with “Fava Beans and a Nice Chianti” After Seeing Silence of the Lambs
While scary movies have been a staple in cinemas forever, 1991’s Silence of the Lambs turned the genre on its head. Instead of a basic gore-fest, audiences got a sophisticated, even charming, serial killer in the form of Hannibal Lecter, as masterfully portrayed by Anthony Hopkins. And the movie’s biggest enthusiasts got a new bone-chilling catch phrase.
Finding Yourself Stunned by the News of Kurt Cobain’s Death
Kurt Cobain was at the height of his fame in 1994 when the Nirvana front man took his own life in his Seattle home. Though Cobain had reportedly struggled with depression and addiction for years, it still sent shockwaves through the band’s legion of loyal fans when the news of his death broke.
Wishing You Had a Job as Cool as the Kids at Empire Records Did
Your part-time job at Orange Julius may have made you enough money to buy your first car, but you longed for a gig as cool as working at the titular store in Empire Records. The 1995 cult classic movie not only made you desperate to sling CDs, it sparked countless fashion and music trends, from cropped mohair sweaters paired with plaid skirts to a reinvigorated love for the Gin Blossoms.
Gearing up for Y2K
By the end of the ‘90s, Y2K panic was in full swing. People were worried that their computers would fry, their PINs would stop working, and that the stock market would crash. And then the ball dropped at midnight in 2000 and… nothing happened. But at least everyone had wallets full of cash, stores of canned food, and cases of bottled water, just in case. And for more blasts from the past, check out these 20 Photos Only Kids Who Grew Up in the 1990s Will Understand.
To discover more amazing secrets about living your best life, click here to follow us on Instagram!