Maybe it’s the relative socio-political simplicity of the decade, or maybe it’s the livable rent-salary ratio, or perhaps its just pure childhood nostalgia, but whatever the reason, the ’90s are in, y’all. Britney Spears is still going strong. Every week, it seems like there’s a new ’90s show or movie up for a reboot, with Frasier cited as one of the most recent sitcoms up for revival. Even denim and crop tops are making a comeback.
But for those of us who actually grew up during this magical time, we know that there are certain things that will only live on, in their purest form, in the hallowed sanctity of memory. For those people, we have compiled the following love photo-essay to the era. And for a language throwback from the era, don’t miss the 20 Slang Terms From the 1990s No One Uses Anymore.
Owning Everything Lisa Frank
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
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
Outside of counting rain drops and telephone poles, this was the only form of amusement on long road trips.
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!
Passing Handwritten Notes in Class
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
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
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
No one really knows why we all did it, but we all did it.
Having to Part Your Hair Down the Middle
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.
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
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
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
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
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
Everyone in elementary school knew what “58008” spelled out upside-down. And yes, it was the funniest thing ever.
Wearing BFF Necklaces
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
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.
Wrapping Up Your Nintendo Controllers So They Wouldn’t Get Tangled
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
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)
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.
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