100 Photos That Kids Born After the 20th Century Will Never Understand
Paging today's teens: You have no idea what "paging" even is.
Kids today—with their photorealistic video games, access to infinite knowledge, and ability to order literally anything on a whim at the push of a button—might argue that they’re living in a world that adults could once only dream of. Those of us who grew up in the past beg to differ.
Sure, the 21st century might offer luxuries that kids in the past only ever saw on The Jetsons, but there’s something special about simpler decades that the children of today will just never quite understand. And quite frankly, today’s youth can keep their fancy gizmos and gadgets. No matter the day, we’d choose Snake over Fortnite, the local drive-in over the 19-screen AMC, Elvis and the Beatles over Adele and Maroon 5.
If you grew up in an era that kids today might refer to as “forever ago,” then you’ll appreciate this photo essay that will instantly transport you back to a better time. And if you’re looking for a verbal throwback to the era, don’t miss the 100 Slang Terms From the 20th Century No One Uses Anymore.
Owning Everything Lisa Frank (1990s)
This photo belongs in a museum commemorating the glorious decade. Everything—from the the pink lunch boxes to the backpack (what even is that material?) to the baggy jeans to the Lisa Frank notebooks—is a shrine to the era. For what it’s worth, Lisa Frank is also making a comeback, since Hot Topic recently released a SpongeBob SquarePants X Lisa Frank collaboration. And to throw a cold bucket of water on that natural desire to yearn for the past, check out 17 Things You’re Nostalgic for But Shouldn’t Be.
Having to Choose Between the Phone and the Internet (1990s)
You want to chat with your friends online, but your mom is having an endless conversation with Susan about the Dolce & Gabbana top she recently fished out of Century 21. The struggle was oh-so-real.
Playing Snake for Hours at a Time (1990s)
Outside of counting rain drops and telephone poles, this was the only form of amusement on long road trips.
Frosted Tips (1990s)
For a brief moment in a deliriously innocent pre-9/11 period in American history—when *NSYNC (above) reigned supreme and Jim Carrey was a serious film actor—it was the norm for men to put the styling equivalent of cupcake icing in their hair. What a time to be alive! And for more on the go-go 90s, don’t miss these 30 Hilarious Jokes from the 1990s That Will Stoke Your Nostalgia.
Passing Handwritten Notes in Class (1990s)
Before text messages, this was the only way to let your crush know you were madly in love with them. And for more romantic gestures from the past, check out 40 Old-Fashioned Relationship Tips That Still Apply Today.
Remembering to Rewind Your Blockbuster Rental VHS Tapes Before Returning Them (1990s)
Nothing was worse than snagging a copy of a sweet Nicolas Cage action film at the rental store and getting home to discover that the last guy who used it didn’t bother to press rewind. Honestly: How rude?!
Doing the Macarena at Every School Dance (1990s)
To this day, the simple synth intro of this classic hit submerges Millennials into memories of their first school dance. No one knows the words, but everyone’s got the moves down pat.
Doodling This “S” Over and Over Again (1990s)
No one really knows why we all did it, but we all did it.
Having to Part Your Hair Down the Middle (1990s)
Rider Strong from Boy Meets World (above). Shane McDermott from Airborne. JTT from Home Improvement. Yes, the 90s were the undisputed golden age of really, really bad bowl cuts with a center part. But if you were going to a No Doubt concert, nothing made you look cooler.
Wearing Clothes That Are Two-Sizes Too Big (1990s)
Nothing screamed “I grew up in the era of Reality Bites and Singles” quite like being a skinny teen boy and wearing a XXXL flannel shirt.
Making Your Own Ankle Socks (1990s)
Years ago, teenage athletes across America had the ingenuity to pull off the sock-less look well before ankle socks became one of the greatest fashion inventions of all time.
Trying to Fix a Broken Tape (1990s)
Try to imagine your Spotify account breaking. Now, take that feeling of despondency and multiply it by a thousand. Then you’ll know what it truly feels like to literally hold the remains of your broken Alanis Morrisette mix in your hands.
Dying on the Oregon Trail (1990s)
Thanks to this wildly popular game, everyone in fifth grade learned dysentery used to be a serious issue. For what it’s worth, the computer game now lives on via classicreload.com, if you want to finally make it to the promised land: Oregon. For more computer nostalgia, check out 15 Tech Terms from the ’90s No One Uses Anymore.
Struggling to Find the Right CD (1990s)
Everyone had one of these giant cases and, inevitably, the DVD or CD you were actually looking for would be mysteriously missing.
Having Entirely Too Much Fun with Your Calculator (1990s)
Everyone in elementary school knew what “58008” spelled out upside-down. And yes, it was the funniest thing ever.
Wearing BFF Necklaces (1990s)
Etsy may have loads of BFF necklaces, but none will compare with the originals from Claire’s, which were composed of a heart ripped in two, united only when two BFFs conjoined them.
Carpooling in a Minivan (1990s)
Long before crossovers ruled the highways of America, soccer moms of the 1990s delighted in ferrying the neighborhood kids to school in one of these then-futuristic-looking minivans. Sales for minivans, starting with the Dodge Caravan in 1983, peaked in 1994, with 1,265,656 versions sold. If you were a truly lucky kid, they came equipped with a TV and VCR in the back for catching up on Power Rangers episodes. Oh, and if you hated minivans, you’re not alone. The one above is one of the 30 Worst Cars of the Last 30 Years.
Wrapping Up Your Nintendo Controllers So They Wouldn’t Get Tangled (1990s)
Along with blowing into VHS and cassette tapes into order to magically revive them, this was a ’90s classic.
Pretending to Know How to Play Minesweeper (1990s)
Literally no one knew how to play this game that came pre-loaded onto computers, but that didn’t stop literally everyone from trying.
Watching Your Tamagotchi Die (RIP) (1990s)
It was one of the weirdest crazes of the 90s, a “digital pet” you could watch grow—and, yes, die. When your Tamagotchi signaled its departure from existence, it did so with a passive-aggressive, “Bye.” Kids today have no idea how good they have it.
Seeing “Just Say No” Signs Plastered Everywhere (1980s)
You probably already knew drugs were illegal from your school’s D.A.R.E. program, but Nancy Reagan’s omnipresent campaign—where “Just Say No” posters were plastered on nearly every public school—really drove the point home.
Wearing Leotards Everywhere (1980s)
With the popularity of aerobics at an all-time high, leotards were to the ’80s what yoga pants are today, meaning they were worn anywhere and everywhere, regardless of whether or not you actually planned to exercise. While their stretchy fabric was particularly unforgiving of any lumps or bumps on your body, you always felt like a member of Jane Fonda’s entourage when you wore it. And to find out why taking a trip down memory lane makes you feel so warm and fuzzy, discover these 17 Surprising Reasons You Love Nostalgia So Much.
Thinking Acid-washed Jeans Looked Cool (1980s)
The ‘80s had us all clamoring for acid-washed jeans. Whether in a dark wash or bright color, acid-wash adherents genuinely felt these strangely-patterned pants were the perfect complement to the crimped hair, crop tops, and day-glo accessories also popular at the time.
Proudly Wearing Your “Choose Life” Shirt (1980s)
Your love for Wham! extended well past dancing every time you heard “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” In fact, your “Choose Life” t-shirt happened to be one of your most prized possessions—and something you proudly wore everywhere from school picture day to more formal occasions.
Seeing Mullets Everywhere (1980s)
While they may be an object of derision today, in the ‘80s, mullets were just another standard hairstyle. In addition to stars like Billy Ray Cyrus and John Stamos sporting this regrettable haircut, everyone from your family members to your teachers had them, too.
Teasing Your Bangs (1980s)
They say the higher the hair, the closer to God—and that was certainly true when it came to your bangs in the ‘80s. Even if you had to use a whole can of Aqua Net to achieve your desired look, it was well worth it. And if you think that’s relatable, you’ll crack up over the 30 Funniest Jokes About Growing Up in the ‘80s.
Being Totally Terrified of Chucky from Child’s Play (1980s)
There were plenty of real-life villains the ‘80s to be afraid of, but none of them made you quite so frightened as the redheaded menace known as Chucky. In fact, the doll’s evil deeds made you so scared you actually started to suspect your own playthings, as well.
Begging Your Parents for a Cabbage Patch Kid for Christmas (1980s)
Cabbage Patch Kids weren’t just a thing in the ‘80s—they were the thing. And you were proud to own one, knowing your parents likely risked life and limb at your local mall to make sure you had one in time for the holidays.
Feeling Like the Coolest Kid in School When You Got a Pager (1980s)
While pagers may seem antiquated by today’s standards, back in the ‘80s, if you had one, you couldn’t have been cooler. Sure, you had to learn a million codes to understand what people were trying to communicate with you and have access to a landline to get in touch with anyone else, but there was no denying that a pager was the ultimate in high-tech accessories at the time. But unfortunately for all the ’80s kids out there, a pager is now one of the 22 Things That Have Become Obsolete Since 2000.
Envying Your Friends Who Had Waterbeds (1980s)
Sure, your bed was fine, but there was nothing more enviable to you than your friends’ waterbeds. They may have made you a little seasick to lay on—and there was, of course, the ever-present worry about accidentally flooding the room—but they were still just about the coolest piece of furniture you’d ever seen.
Listening to Your Favorite Music on a Boombox (1980s)
With records rapidly being replaced by cassettes, music became instantly more portable in the 1980s. And with the advent of the boombox, you could bring your favorite music anywhere you went—preferably sharing it with everyone around you while perching the machine between your neck and shoulder.
Image via Instagram/@katmathis418
Playing Mall Madness (1980s)
The only thing more fun than shopping at an actual mall? Pretending to shop with your friends during a game of Mall Madness.
Weeping When a Tape Got Stuck in Your VCR (1980s)
In the 1980s, you had two choices when you wanted to watch a movie at home: head to your local video store or tap into your private stash of tapes. Of course, no matter the provenance of your VHSes, playing or rewinding one always put you at risk for this mangled mess—and the heartbreaking realization you’d have to shell out another month’s worth of allowance for a new one. And for another skip down memory lane, check out these 25 Reasons We’re All Obsessed with the 1980s in 2018.
Being Devastated by the Challenger Explosion (1980s)
While not every political scandal or international crisis made it past your radar as a kid, you totally remember exactly where you were when you heard about the Challenger disaster in 1986. You could barely walk past a newsstand without seeing the ship breaking apart on the front pages of newspapers and covers of magazines for months after—and again, every year, on the anniversary of the tragedy.
Getting Ecto-Cooler in Your Lunch Box (1980s)
The color of toxic slime, loaded with sugar, and generally the greatest thing you’d ever tasted in your life, getting one of these at lunch had you pitying the kids who got sent to school with water or juice.
Rocking a Pair of Baggy Pants with a Fanny Pack (1980s)
In the 1980s, rocking a pair of Zubaz pants with a fanny pack cinching the waistline was the move. Today, unless you’re going to an ’80s-themed party, an outfit like that will only get you laughs and stares—and not the good kind.
Covering Your Arm in Slap Bracelets (1980s)
Your teachers hated them. They left marks on your arms for days. They hurt when you snapped them on your wrist. But nothing in the world was going to keep your collection of brightly-patterned from growing until they reached your elbows on both arms.
Trying to Emulate Madonna’s Early Style (Right Down to the Beauty Mark) (1980s)
Of course, George Michael and company weren’t your only fashion inspirations: from the mesh tops to the tutu skirts to the black bracelets, you were a head-to-toe Madonnabe. And if you seriously want to dress like Madonna from head to toe, then check out her Bizarre Anti-Aging Secret.
Getting Your First Computer (1980s)
IBM introduced its first personal computer, the IBM PC, in 1981. While it would be at least a decade before everyone had a computer, if you had a Commodore 64 in the early 80’s, you were a real gamer.
Treating Your Members Only Jacket Like it Was Made of Gold (1980s)
While leather jackets may have been the pinnacle of ’70s style, by the time the ’80s rolled around, there was nothing that topped the appeal of a polyester Members Only jacket. No matter what the weather, no outfit was complete without that label on your lapel. And for more ’80s fun, don’t miss the 30 Hilarious Jokes from the 1980s That Will Stoke Your Nostalgia.
Spending Hours Trying to Conquer Pac-Man on Your Atari (1970s)
Of course, Pong wasn’t the only video game that occupied hours of your time after school. You were equally addicted to the thrill of outrunning those pesky ghosts in Pac-Man, too.
Bonding with Your Pet Rock (1970s)
Dogs are messy and expensive, cats leave fur everywhere, and parrots (at least in the ’70s) only repeat phrases their owners learned from MAD magazine. So, instead, your parents got you a Pet Rock. And while it may never have licked your face or kept your feet warm at night, you loved it nonetheless. And if you want to bring a more traditional pet into your life, discover these 15 Amazing Benefits of Adopting a Pet.
Creating Amazing Art on Your Magna Doodle (1970s)
Picasso had paint. Rodin had marble. And you had your Magna Doodle, on which you created your own masterpieces before swiping them away for good.
Practicing Your Styling Skills on Your Barbie Beauty Center (1970s)
In the 1970s, budding hairdressers had to practice those banana curls and teased bangs somehow. And without YouTube tutorials to guide, Barbie Beauty Centers tended to bear the brunt of amateur styling attempts—and all the curling iron singes that went along with them.
Copying Comics in the Paper with Silly Putty (1970s)
Long before scanners were a fixture in every home and office, you copied things the old-fashioned way: with Silly Putty. And, of course, you relished the opportunity to ball it up after copying a Family Circus panel and starting again.
Loving Your Parents’ Wood-Paneled Wagon (1970s)
While a sleek SUV or sports car may be more eye-catching option by today’s standards, in the ‘70s, there was nothing cooler than hitting the road in your parents’ wood-paneled station wagon. And when you were being especially good, you got to ride in the way, way back and look out the rear window. And for more so-bad-they’re-good rides, check out The 20 Worst Rental Cars of the Last 20 Years.
Having Shag Carpeting Throughout Your House (1970s)
Covering your floors wasn’t as simple as popping into Pottery Barn and picking up a rug in the 1970s. Your house—apart from the patterned linoleum in your kitchen—was covered in shag carpeting in a variety of earthy tones, from moss to pumpkin to, of course, leopard.
Teasing Your Hair to Get Farrah Fawcett Waves (1970s)
Big hair was the name of the game in the ‘70s, and nobody had a more iconic mane than Farrah Fawcett. And though you may have lost a good portion of your hair trying to emulate her classic ‘do, you still teased and curled and sprayed until your waves were just right.
Rocking Short Shorts with High Socks (1970s)
Long before Lululemon made made athleisure cool, those who grew up in the ’70s had their own take on the would-be trend. Much to your dismay, this often meant that your dad wore sweat bands, high socks, and precariously short shorts when he took you and your friends to the mall.
Worshipping the Hairy God That Was Burt Reynolds (1970s)
Behold: the measure of masculinity in 1975.
Begging Your Parents to Take You to Walt Disney World (1970s)
While kids today have been going to Disney theme parks for decades, children of the ’70s were the first to see Walt Disney World in all of its glory when the park opened its doors on October 1, 1971. Of course, you begged your parents every summer to ditch your trip to your grandparents’ house to take you there instead. And if you love Disney, then check out these 20 Secrets Disney Employees Don’t Want You to Know.
Having Every Dish Served Out of Patterned Pyrex (1970s)
Fancy china has its place, but as a ‘70s kid, you know that the true height of sophistication is enjoying your mom’s tuna noodle casserole straight from the Pilgrim-patterned Pyrex it was baked in.
Taking Your Fashion Cues From ABBA (1970s)
Understated fashion rarely made the cut in the 1970s, and you happily followed the fashion stylings of ABBA. Breaking out your feather boa and Christmas pajamas, you’d happily twirl around your living room to “Dancing Queen,” imagining you were the fifth member of the Swedish pop quartet.
Collecting Pez Dispensers (1970s)
The candy may have been chalky, but you weren’t going to rest until you had every Pez dispenser in the market lining the shelves in your bedroom.
Learning about the World with ViewMaster Reels (1970s)
While an annual international vacation may not have been in your parents’ budget, you got to explore the world, anyway. With your ViewMaster reels, you learned about the Eiffel Tower, Machu Picchu, and got an up-close-and-personal look at the pyramids, too.
Singing Along to the Bee Gees (1970s)
With their tight jumpsuits, long hair, and high voices, the Bee Gees were about as cool as bands got, in your opinion. And even today, you still tear up a little when their version of “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” plays somewhere. And for more blasts from the past, check out the 50 Cover Songs Way Better Than the Original.
Taking Pride in Your Cumbersome 8-track Collection (1970s)
While you loved the bands of the time, you also knew that listening to them on-the-go was quite the endeavor. Nonetheless, you brought your bulky 8-track collection with you on every car trip, often sacrificing precious suitcase space to do so.
Getting Frustrated When You Couldn’t Follow the Instructions Playing Simon (1970s)
You may have mastered the basics of Simon Says as an elementary schooler, but years later, you still struggled to follow directions when passed a Simon, often meaning you played for hours at a time trying to get the pattern right.
Thinking Pong Was the Coolest Video Game Ever (1970s)
Today, we have games so realistic it feels like you’re actually in them. In the 1970s, decades before the advent of Fortnite, we had Pong—and yes, it felt awesomely modern at the time.
Practicing Your Design Skills with Your Fashion Plates Set (1970s)
If you fancied yourself a fashion designer in the 1970s, odds are you begged your parents for a set of Fashion Plates for your birthday. Once you got them, your after-school hours were spent tracing their designs, imagining yourself becoming the next Gloria Vanderbilt with every pencil stroke.
Scandalizing Your Parents By Wearing a Mini Skirt (1960s)
Though who invented the mini skirt is a matter of debate, these shorter hemlines became all the rage among young women on London’s trendy Oxford Street, and it wasn’t long before they made their way across the pond. Soon, they became not just a fashion staple, but a symbol of the women’s liberation movement—and by the end of the era, an even shorter version called the “micro-skirt” emerged.
Wanting to Look Exactly Like Twiggy (1960s)
With her short, slicked down hair, androgynous figure, big eyes, and long eyelashes, Twiggy was the definitive “It” Girl of the 1960s. Women spent hours in front of the mirror trying applying three layers of fake eyelashes and coating them in mascara to get her signature look. Despite her petite frame, Twiggy’s waist-to-hip ratio was 0.7, the same as Marilyn Monroe’s. For more on why this is considered the optimal ratio, This Is What Your Hip-to-Waist Ratio Says About Your Health.
Secretly Thinking Hippie Style Was Cool (1960s)
With their fondness for free love, nudity, rock music, and illicit substances, raising a hippie was every ’60s parent’s worst nightmare. But even if you weren’t down with their psychedelic lifestyle, you couldn’t help but think all of those earth colors, loose dresses, and unkempt hair were kind of cool.
The Comfort of a Perfectly Broken-in Pair of Bell Bottoms (1960s)
Bell bottoms, a style of trousers that flared at the bottom in a bell-like shape, became all the rage for both men and women. They made you look like you had calves the size of an elephant’s, but boy were they comfy after a few washes.
Riding a Banana Bike (1960s)
The banana bike—also known as a wheelie bike, high-riser, spyder bike, consisted of ape hanger handlebars, a banana seat with sissy bar, and small wheels. They were designed to resemble a chopper motorcycle, and if you were a kid, nothing was cooler than racing down the street in one of these babies.
Wearing a Pair of Go-go Boots for a Night Out (1960s)
In 1964, the French fashion designer André Courrèges designed the first go-go boots, which were white, low-heeled, and mid-calf in height. They were an overnight sensation, and paired perfectly with a miniskirt.
Hanging a Beatles Poster on Your Bedroom Wall (1960s)
You collected their vinyl records and hung up their pinup posters from magazines, because Beatlemania was fever pitch.
Getting One of the First Barbie Dolls to Hit the Market (1960s)
Barbie first launched in March 1959, after the iconic doll’s creator, Ruth Handler, noticed that her daughter, Barbara, liked to give adult roles to her paper dolls. The very first Barbie wore a zebra-print bathing suit and was available in both blond and brunette. By the end of the first year, Mattel had sold 300,000 of them.
Going Through Cans of Hairspray to Get the Perfect Bouffant (1960s)
The style was popularized by Jacqueline Kennedy in the beginning of the ’60s, and soon every woman was backcombing for hours and blinding themselves with hairspray to achieve this coveted look. And if you’re curious to see what the women of the ’60s look like today, check out these 10 Over-65 Leading Ladies Who Look Amazing.
Eating Various Foods Made in Gelatin Molds (1960s)
As gross as encasing meat in Jell-O may be, it was also a relatively inexpensive way of making meals out of canned products and seemed to have an infinite expiration date if properly refrigerated.
Loving the Low Maintenance of Keeping Sea Monkeys as Pets (1960s)
“Sea monkeys”—a brand name for brine shrimp—were sold as novelty aquarium pets. Thanks to a genius marketing strategy that involved placing ads in comic books in which they bore very little resemblance to the real-life crustaceans, every little boy wanted one of these as a pet.
Getting Your First Tie-dye T-shirt (1960s)
According to legend, the first modern tie-dye shirt was created by a group of hippies who took a white T-shirt, dipped it into a pond, and poured enamel-based model airplane paint all over it to make some pretty colors. It soon became the unofficial wardrobe at rock concerts, and Woodstock even had a tie-dye booth for those who needed an extra pair.
Thinking Everything Looked Cooler Under a Black Light (1960s)
Though blacklight posters were invented in the 1930s, they didn’t become mainstream until the late 1960s, when venues like the Fillmore began using them to promote concerts for musicians like John Lennon, and artists began to create funkadelic artwork for teens to adorn their walls with. A few decades ago, your shaggy carpeted bedroom wasn’t worth a thing without a few of these babies adorning the wall.
The Turtleneck Trend (1960s)
Ironically, the turtleneck—a garment that is perhaps more modest than anything else on the market nowadays—was the uniform for intelligent, independent, and irresistible women back in the 1960s. Iconic women of the time—like Gloria Steinem and Audrey Hepburn—were often pictured sporting turtlenecks with retro skirts and black jeans, creating sleek-but-sexy get-ups that no man or woman could resist. And for fashion fads we never want to see again, check out the 20 Worst Style Trends of 2017.
Playing with Troll Dolls (1960s)
Why these creepy dolls picked up in popularity is unclear—but for better or for worse, Troll Dolls will always be a part of 1960’s nostalgia.
Getting Your Hair Pin-Straight with an Actual Iron (1960s)
Before there were hair straighteners, there were actual irons and women on a mission. Every girl growing up in the ’60s remembers getting ready for prom, their mom holding their hair over the ironing board as they struggled to straighten those pesky waves. Straighteners may have made our lives easier, but the struggle made the final product that much sweeter. And for more historic flashbacks, don’t miss the 20 Timeless One-Liners from History’s Extraordinary Women.
Turning Your Basement into a Fallout Shelter (1960s)
In the 1960s, fallout shelters were so popular that the government even offered financial assistance for civilians who wanted to build them under the Community Fallout Shelter Program. And what ’60s baby could ever forget President Kennedy’s famous letter in Life magazine, advising everyone to educate themselves about how to survive a nuclear attack, as “nuclear weapons and the possibility of nuclear war are facts of life we cannot ignore today.”
Watching the Moon Landing (1960s)
For kids today, the iconic moon landing of Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969, is little more than a part of history class. But for people growing up during this time, it was the event of the decade, where everyone gathered around the biggest television in the neighborhood to watch Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin take one small step for man, and one giant leap for mankind. And to learn what these guys had to go through to get to the moon, learn the 27 Insane Things Astronauts Have to Do.
Plugging in Your First Lava Lamp (1960s)
Back in the ’60s, nothing accessorized a room quite like a lava lamp. Not only was it funky, but it was also fun to watch as the wax mixture inside moved around. Groovy, baby!
Posing For Photos on the Hood of Your Car (1960s)
Before there were selfies, there were confident young women making sitting on the hood of a car look oh-so-glamorous. And if any of these photos appealed to you, check out 25 Signs You Were Born in the Wrong Decade.
Calling Your Friends on a Rotary Phone (1950s)
While calling a friend today is as easy as instructing Siri to do your bidding, in the 1950s, it was a lengthy process. Every time you wanted to dial a number, you had to wait for the rotary dial to go all the way back to its original position before entering the next one. And for another blast from the past, check out these 17 Vintage Family Photos That Are Sure to Make You Laugh.
Dressing Up in a Poodle Skirt (1950s)
Look through photo albums of your school dances back in the ’50s, and you’ll have an easier time pointing out the girls who weren’t wearing poodle skirts, given how popular these bright garments were. Created in 1947 by singer and fashion designer Juli Lynne Charlot as part of a last-minute Christmas outfit, the skirt quickly caught on as a story-telling, conversation-starting item of clothing, making the rounds at dances and dinner parties alike.
Getting Your First Color TV (1950s)
In the 1950s, all it took to be the popular kid in school was having a color TV that everyone from your class could come over to watch Bonanza on. Even though most shows were still only offered in black and white, it was enough just to be able to brag about having that brand-spanking-new television set.
Getting Ready in Your Pastel Bathroom (1950s)
Kids who grew up in the 1950s (and people who live in homes that haven’t been renovated in decades) can look at photos of pastel-colored bathrooms with fondness rather than disgust.
Getting Your First Hula Hoop (1950s)
While it was no easy feat to master the rhythm necessary to get the Hula Hoop to stay up, you spent hours wiggling your hips and watching it fall before finally figuring out how to get a few rotations out of it.
Thinking Chrome-Accented Cars Were Unbelievably Cool (1950s)
To date, there are few cars on the road that look as cool as the ones released in the 1950s. From fins to chrome accents to their candy-colored paint jobs, you couldn’t—and likely still can’t—help from oohing and aahing when you see one on the road.
Your Mom’s Fat Melting Jiggle Machine (1950s)
Long before ellipticals were invented, moms hoping to work off their post-baby weight wrapped various body parts around a belt that promised to jiggle their fat right off. Obviously, this is not a workout, and it resembles some sort of medieval torture device. Luckily, we’ve evolved since then. For more on this, check out The New Science-Backed Workout That’s Extending Elderly Lives.
Going to McDonald’s For the First Time (1950s)
Home-cooked meals were the name of the game in the 1950s—until McDonald’s changed everything. As the newly-franchised company expanded throughout the 1950s, kids across America began to clamor for their hamburgers, begging mom and dad to ditch the dinner cooking in the Crock Pot and head to the Golden Arches instead.
Wearing a Coonskin Cap to Look Like Davy Crockett (1950s)
While you may not have been the King of the Wild Frontier, you were the next best thing: a kid in a coonskin cap with a penchant for adventure.
Worshipping All Things Elvis (1950s)
Sure, kids these days might appreciate Elvis Presley’s music, but they’ll never know what it was like to grow up while the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll was still alive and making hit records. (And they’ll certainly never know the pleasure of decking out their rooms with posters, photographs, and other paraphernalia of the sultry singer.)
Helping Your Parents Pick Out Patterned Laminate Flooring for Their Kitchen (1950s)
Before hardwood floors came back into fashion, patterned laminates were the pinnacle of home décor. Inexpensive, easy to install, and impervious to even the messiest spills, virtually everyone you knew had these plasticky floors in their kitchen.
Proudly Wearing a Letterman Jacket (1950s)
If you wanted to show your school pride in the ’50s, there was no better way to do so than by wearing your letterman jacket around town. And if you were a girl, you might be lucky enough to have your boyfriend lend you his. For more ’50s romance, check out 40 Old-Fashioned Relationship Tips That Still Apply Today.
Thinking Marilyn Monroe Was the Epitome of Glamour (1950s)
Even before she went platinum and breathily extolled the virtues of diamonds, you thought Marilyn Monroe was the most glamorous girl you’d ever seen. From her auburn waves to her curvy shape, she was peak ’50s perfection.
Spending Weekends at Your Local Drive-In (1950s)
Prior to the advent of the multiplex, drive-in movies were the best way to see a film. You’d park your car, tune in on the radio, and enjoy hours of entertainment every weekend during the summer.
Hanging Out in Your Parents’ Sunken Living Room (1950s)
Whether you were inviting friends over for cocktails or having a massive holiday celebration, fashionable 1950s homes were meticulously maintained for entertaining purposes. Of course, no room was better suited to gathering guests than your sunken living room, where you could relax far from (or at least a few inches below) the hustle and bustle in the kitchen.
Spending Friday Night at Your Local Soda Fountain (1950s)
While formal restaurants had their time and place, the only acceptable place to hang out with your friends or take a date on a Friday night was your local soda fountain.
Covering Your Christmas Tree in Tinsel (1950s)
There’s a reason every TV station plays White Christmas on repeat every holiday season. Maybe it was because the war had just ended, and people had yet to forget what a gift it is to have your entire family safe and home. But there’s something about the tinseled tree, the old train car toys, and the wooden sleds that children used to go from neighbor to neighbor spreading festive cheer, that still warms your heart like hot cocoa.
Putting the Ants in Your First Ant Farm (1950s)
While your furry pets were, of course, sources of joy for you as well, you found few things more fascinating than watching the ants move through your ant farm. And while the box may have read “escape proof, ” you’d occasionally catch a straggler who hadn’t made its way in.
Polishing Your Saddle Shoes (1950s)
Though, by today’s standards, having an entire family wear matching shoes might seem noteworthy, in the 1950s, you, your mom, dad, and siblings all had matching saddle shoes. And, of course, you kept them so well-shined you could practically see your reflection in them.
Picking the Perfect Pair of Bobby Socks (1950s)
While no-show socks may be essential by modern standards, in the 1950s, people proudly wore their bobby socks cuffed above the ankle with everything from shorts to formal dresses. For what it’s worth, Prince George and Princess Charlotte still rock that look. For more on their retro style, don’t miss A Royal Family Guide to Dressing Your Child.
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