20 Things All '70s Kids Remember
From bell-bottoms to Pong, these '70s flashbacks will have you feeling serious nostalgia.
If you didn't personally live through the 1970s, it's easy to make assumptions. You probably picture everyone dressed in bell-bottoms, their shirts unbuttoned down to their navels and their perfectly coiffed shag haircuts not budging as they boogie-woogied all night long. And while some of this may be accurate—especially the bell-bottoms—it's by no means the full picture. Those of us who came of age during the grooviest decade in history have memories that run deeper than Donna Summer and bad fashion, and we also have some serious '70s nostalgia. From School House Rock to Pet Rocks, here are 20 things that only '70s kids remember.
When George Lucas's space opera first hit movie theaters in 1977, it was unlike anything the world had ever seen. If you ask anyone who saw the original Star Wars in theaters about their experience, they'll be able to tell you every little detail, right down to how long they waited in line. For a '70s kid, it's easy to get goosebumps just thinking about it.
It might look downright antiquated today, but any child of the '70s will always be nostalgic for Pong. That's because this two-dimensional video game, which was released by Atari in 1972, was one of the first of its kind. It was literally a game-changer.
Though it was meant to be a computerized version of table tennis, the game basically just involved a white dot slowly bouncing back and forth between two white lines (the paddles). The distinctive sounds of a Pong game can still hypnotize any '70s kid.
Before there was the Macarena, there was the Hustle. When Van McCoy implored us in his 1975 hit to "do the Hustle," we all knew we had to learn this dance or we'd be left behind.
Shag carpets looked hideous, almost like the hair on the head of a gigantic Muppet. And yet, they were also surprisingly cozy on bare feet. The material felt so soft to the touch that it made an entire generation overlook its heinous appearance.
If you weren't old enough to stay up late and watch Saturday Night Live when it first launched in 1975, you probably had an older sibling or a parent who was—and did. The morning after, you'd beg them to recount every hilarious moment, even if you didn't always understand all the jokes. If nothing else, the merciless torture of a clay figure named Mr. Bill felt like the most brilliant bit in the world.
The Hustle was hardly the only iconic dance to come out of the '70s. You can immediately tell if somebody came of age during the decade by whether or not they reflexively spell out the letters "Y," "M," "C," and "A" with their arms whenever this Village People song is played.
Every child born in the last 50 years has likely been influenced by Sesame Street in some way. But for '70s kids who got to experience the PBS show from the beginning, the program was a revelation. We were the first generation to fall in love with Big Bird, Grover, Bert, and Ernie, the fictional characters who taught us everything we needed to know growing up.
This '70s fashion accessory was also a liquid crystal thermometer, which is how it could "recognize" your emotional state. Blue meant you were calm or relaxed, amber meant you were nervous or anxious, and black meant you were angry. For '70s kids, showing someone the color of their mood ring was much easier than talking about feelings.
From Charlie's Angels and Fantasy Island to The Love Boat and Starsky & Hutch, Aaron Spelling produced some of the biggest TV hits of the '70s. Growing up, we watched his shows like we were going to be tested on them later. Where else could we see adults wearing short-shorts and making questionable life choices? Maybe grown-ups behaved irresponsibly in real life, too, but it was more entertaining on TV.
What's surprising isn't that '70s kids loved this toy, which consisted of two heavy acrylic balls attached to string intended to be banged together at full force—it's that it took years before somebody noticed that clackers produced a lot of shrapnel. In 1976, the government finally deemed the toy a "mechanical hazard," and they were taken off store shelves.
With investigative reports like "Leif Garrett: What You DON'T Know About Him" and "Donny & Marie: Too Busy for Love?" Tiger Beat provided the news every kid needed. The magazine also came with free posters, so with just a single issue of Tiger Beat, you could get a shirtless poster of Shaun Cassidy and tons of knowledge about his scandalous secrets. What more could a '70s kid hope for?
In the '70s, we begged our parents for $4 so that we could buy… a rock. Sure, this makes it sound like '70s kids were the victims of the biggest con in history—and we were. But we have no regrets.
We got to feed our Pet Rocks, take them for walks, and even clean up after them, just like a real pet. Call us fools if you must, but we loved our Pet Rocks. Ah, the '70s. They really were simpler times.
All it took was one seriously terrifying movie—Steven Spielberg's 1975 shark fright fest Jaws—to keep an entire generation of children out of the ocean. All of us '70s kids would scan the water for signs of a shark fin, hearing da-dum, da-dum, da-dum in our heads as we did.
These educational animated shorts popped up amid our usual Saturday morning cartoon line-up. And their songs were so darn catchy that we didn't even mind that they were tricking us into learning.
With educational hits like "Conjunction Junction" and "Three Is a Magic Number," Schoolhouse Rock probably taught us more than our actual teachers did. Ask anybody who grew up in the '70s to explain how laws are made in our country and they'll likely start singing "I'm Just a Bill."
No self-respecting '70s kid would ever walk out for gym class without a pair of tube socks, preferably one long enough to reach their knees. We all suffered from the same delusion that tube socks made us look athletic and not incredibly silly.
At least we weren't alone, though. Everyone from Farrah Fawcett to Kareem-Abdul Jabbar made a very convincing case that tube socks were cool.
These Playskool dolls were designed to help us '70s kids learn how to use buttons, snaps, zippers, and ties. Dressy Bessy looked like she'd soon be hitching a ride to Woodstock, and Dapper Dan looked like someone who drove a van that reeked of patchouli, but they still made learning fun.
Kids didn't tune in to the sitcom Happy Days because they were nostalgic about the '50s. They did it to see the Fonz, the coolest character on TV. All across the country, kids would be practicing their Fonzie thumbs up and saying "Ayyyy" with the perfect Henry Winkler inflection.
Of course, people still use Tupperware today, but it's nothing like it was in the '70s. Our Tupperware was colorful and bold, something that you actually wanted to show off when you opened your lunch at school.
The generation before us even had Tupperware parties to sell these much sought-after storage containers. In the 1970s, you'd have an easier time walking into somebody's house and stealing a lamp than leaving with their Tupperware. Seriously, we loved it that much.
Nobody actually liked 8-track tapes—they were simply the only thing available in the '70s for recording and listening to music. They were incredibly complicated, with four "programs" instead of sides. You had to toggle from program to program, making the whole enterprise hugely annoying and clunky.
Television wasn't available 24/7 during our childhood. At around 1 or 2 a.m., most TV stations signed off for the night, playing "The Star-Spangled Banner" before leaving us with a test card of color bars. Anyone suffering from insomnia didn't have a lot of options in those days.