Ahh, nostalgia. It is a powerful emotion. In fact, studies show that it’s actually a good thing to think back fondly of past times because it makes you more optimistic. This is because nostalgia makes you feel more connected to others, which in turn, makes you feel better about yourself (which makes people even more optimistic). And what can possibly evoke more nostalgia than the salad days of childhood?
Growing up as a kid in the 80s and 90s was a particularly interesting experience. You’d spend most of your after school hours and weekends playing outside and wouldn’t come in until your parents called for you. You may not have even had Internet access in your home until you were almost a teen. The childhood of the 80s and 90s kids is one that children of the future will never experience. With that, here are 13 things that will undoubtedly make you nostalgic about your childhood.
13. Flintstones Vitamins
You likely remember happily agreeing to take your Flintstones vitamin (the powdery, chewable kind) if you were a child of the 80s or 90s. In fact, these are still on the market today: bonus points if you’ve got them in your cupboard. We all remember the tablets shaped like Fred Flintstone, Barney Rubble and all of the other famous members of the Flintstone clan. The vitamins came in orange, purple (grape) and red, but red was undoubtedly the favourite. You probably took the vitamin right after you finished your breakfast of Corn Pops, French Toast Crunch or Life cereal, right? Thought so. Speaking of which, who remembers pulling out CD roms of games like Life, Candyland and Snakes and Ladders from cereal boxes to play on the computer after school?
12. Tamagotchis and Nano Pets
Tamagotchis and Nanos were definitely an iconic 80s and 90s children toy, particularly in the later 90s. Who remembers bringing these digital pets to school with them? It was a great responsibility to have to feed and care for these little pets with the press of a few buttons, making sure they didn’t get sick. These little toys paved the way for other digital pets that could be accessed online, like Neopets. If you have an itch to relive this part of your childhood, our preliminary research shows that Neopets is indeed still up and running. Go check it out for yourself and relive your past.
11. Popeye Candy Sticks
Most of us smoked a few of these white, chalky sticks at some point in our childhood and felt like a boss. You likely kept the red package with Popeye’s face on the front of it in your back pocket and pulled them out whenever you felt like taking a puff. Initially, they were even made with the red strip like actual cigarettes. The package also had “Candy Cigarettes” on it! They then began to be marketed as the more benign “candy sticks” without the red strips – probably a good idea. Naturally, they are now banned in Canada and the US.
10. Milky & Gel Pens
Everyone remembers the milky gel pen craze in elementary school. Even though most students of elementary school age had to use pencils (pens weren’t allowed until upper elementary school in some cases), gel pens made writing notes to your friends so much better with their gel-like texture and fun colours. With a name like “milky pens”, they were even more appealing. These would definitely be on every back-to-school-list. Oh, how we miss back-to-school lists. Does anyone remember the classic spacemaker pencil case? What about the five-star zipper binder that you probably didn’t even need as a 90s 7th grader, but insisted on having it because it made you feel grown up? Look these up for another hit of school nostalgia.
If you were lucky, your parents might send you to school with a “Lunchable.” Each Lunchable had three separate compartments filled with borderline inedible but delicious parts and you would build your lunch like you were a little adult. All usually came with a little treat, like a candy bar, which probably explains their popularity among kids.
On the topic of lunches, does anyone remember pizza and/or hot dog day at school? You’d bring in your permission slip and money and when the next pizza or hot dog day rolled around, you’d line up for your pizza and chocolate milk. If you were truly a kid of the 80s and 90s, you’d probably even remember listening to see if your chocolate milk moo’d.
8. Mercer Mayer Books
If there is one book you checked out of the library more than once, it was likely one of the iconic Mercer Mayer books. You may have even had a bunch of these books in your own personal collection – they were super popular back in the day, after all. If you Give a Mouse a Cookie was another classic 90s book, as were all of the Robert Munsch books (Love you Forever and Purple, Green and Yellow are must-reads). Of course, then there were the iconic I Spy books and Where’s Waldo? series, too.
7. Library Cards
Do you have a wave of nostalgia thinking about these little library cards? Remember how you would have to take them out of the pocket on the last page of every book if you wanted to take a book out of your school’s library? They are more than likely becoming an ancient relic now with computers being able to keep track of who has taken out each book. Back in the day, though, you had to write your name on the card along with the date. If you were a curious kid, you probably always looked at the list of people who took out the book before you.
6. Polka Dot Shorts
This one is for all of the 90s kids out there. We could certainly dedicate a list to classic 90s kids shows alone. Sure, we remember all of the staples that we’d watch after school or with our dinner: Arthur, Rugrats, The Big Comfy Couch, The Magic School Bus and Mr. Dress Up. But then there were all of shows that were on the Treehouse station that weren’t some of the classics – channel 13 for all those Canadians who recall. The Treehouse entertainers would even hold up all of the artwork children would send in! Nevertheless, Polka Dot Shorts with Bibble, Marigold and, of course, Polkaroo, is probably one of those shows you have forgotten about, but definitely one you’ve surely watched.
5. Furby Happy Meal Toys
Again, this one is for all 90s kids. Indeed, if you were a child of the 90s, before people had as much knowledge as they do today regarding health, going to McDonald’s and ordering a Happy Meal was a staple of childhood for many. The Happy Meal, with its colourful box and toy inside, was an emblem of childhood. As a little kid, the appealing part of the Happy Meal was, of course, the toy. One of the most iconic 90s Happy Meal toys was definitely the Furby – a plastic version of the fuzzy creature that was adorable and slightly terrifying at the same time with its eerie sounds and blank, haunting expression. If you managed to talk your parents into going to McDonald’s, you may have even ended up with an impressive collection of these plastic toys to display in your bedroom.
4. Spice Girls Bubblegum Stickers
If you were a child of the 80s or 90s, you probably remember the rectangular-shaped Spice Girls stickers that were wrapped over bubblegum. The funnest part was seeing who you were going to unwrap, hoping it wasn’t going to be one you already had. If you remember these at all, you most definitely had them stuck above your bed and bunk bed, much to the dismay of your parents, who probably just went along with it. When it came to the Spice Girls, we had it all: the CDs (which we probably played on our discmans), the candy, the movie, the barbies…
3. Chasing the Dickie Dee Ice Cream Man
If you lived in a Canadian town or city and were a child in the 80s and 90s, you probably had many run-ins with the Dickie Dee man. They were a staple of summers. If you missed out on this, we apologize. You were in for a delicious treat if you managed to hear or catch the man selling ice cream from his bike or cart. Popsicles, the blue, red and white rocket pops, push up ice cream pops (who remembers those?!) – he had it all. Best of all, they were probably only a loonie. It just wouldn’t be a regular summer without running behind the ice cream man trying to catch him on a hot summer’s day. However, the company still exists, so if you are lucky enough, you might happen to catch a rare glimpse of the Dickee Dee man from time to time. The former co-owner of the company said “Time marches on, things change. I’m happy to see that it still remains.”
2. MSN Messenger
Do you remember the first time you chatted with someone on MSN? It was a surely a moment that stands out for many of us – to think that we could have a conversation by simply typing to someone who wasn’t even in the room? How did we know it was actually that person? For many 90s kids, MSN was a staple of their elementary and high school days. It was exhilarating when you would hear the classic MSN sound and know that someone was saying hello, or when your crush’s icon was green to signal that he or she was online. Then there were the display names, which would have your girlfriend or boyfriend’s name in hearts to show that you were in a relationship. You might even have song lyrics if you were feeling a little moody. MSN Messenger was still kicking around until Facebook came along and added a chat function – R.I.P. We miss you.
1. Blockbuster Video
It wasn’t that long ago that many weekend nights were spent browsing the aisles of Blockbuster for a movie to watch. It was a classic childhood and teen experience. Blockbuster employees would slip the movie into a plastic case, you’d pick up some popcorn to go with it and return the movie to the dropbox by the end of the weekend. It was an event in and of itself. Blockbuster sadly went bankrupt in 2010, due to more competitive businesses like Netflix, who revolutionized renting movies by giving customers the option to have their videos mailed to them for free. After that, they made it even more convenient by simply making movies available for streaming online. The closest thing to renting a movie Blockbuster-style today is visiting your nearest grocery store and using the Redbox machine. But it won’t ever be the same. As sad as it is, Blockbusters are now like ancient relics of a previous time, much like telephone booths.