The decade that began with a recession, and that ended with the biggest surplus in American history. Trust me, no 90's kid really remembers the decade for the Soviet Union finally breaking apart, or the fact that the internet could show us naked people and conspiracy theories were all the rage.
Personally, I was born in the mid 90's, so I didn't actually live out my entire youth in that decade, but let me tell you that didn't stop me from immersing myself in absolutely everything 90's.
To this day, I still live in the never ending nostalgia that the 90's holds over me, and I couldn't be more happy or proud about it.
So I'll leave you with 6 things that, for me, made the 90's all that (and a bag of chips):
1. The Music
I couldn't pick just one musical artist to rant about for this section, because I'll be honest when I say that hands down, the 90's had some of the best music. The 90's produced and saw the rise of some of the best bands, artists, and musicians of (perhaps) all time. None of this Lady Gaga or Pitbull crap.
Nirvana seemed to capture the angst of an entire decade and put it to music, while musicians like No Doubt and Blink 182 made all our aspirations in life change to desperately wanting to be a punk skater with all the feels in Cali. We saw the uprising of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, and Weezer, as Tupac told us to keep our heads up.
Country, rap, pop, grunge, punk, even boy bands had their share of the lime light in the 90's, and were highly celebrated. They demanded their way into our hearts with powerful love songs from Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, and many others. No matter the genre, the music was just purely incredible.
I will leave you to enjoy what is believed to be the most iconic song of the 90's (even though it came out in 1999 it still counts):
2. The Wonderball
(photo courtesy of mywonderball.com)
Every kid remembers the wonder ball and the mystical powers it had over our Pokemon lunchboxes (unless you were a Digimon kid). Nestle knew what they had done when they created the most revered candy of the 90's. Who knew it would turn out to be as simple as a hollow chocolate ball with a surprise inside.
Originally, the Wonderball was filled with little plastic toys to later be recalled after they proved to be a major choking hazard (I still have my tiny Simba to this day). The toys were short lived, and well noticed when they were replaced with a disappointing alternate solution.
Nestle combated the situation by filling their previous death traps with a smarter and less cool substitute: candy. A few pieces of strangely flavored hard candy in the shape of cartoon characters. Basically, candy inside of candy, something that wasn't anywhere near as genius as before.
Needless to say, that wasn't as rad as tiny plastic toys that we may or may not choke on.
So yes, the wonder ball was extremely short lived, and if you look hard enough, you will still be able to find the little toys on ebay or the candies lame knock off counter parts "Choco Treasure."
We counted exactly how many goose bumps these books actually gave us and we sometimes had to read them in groups (because it was fun, not because we were scared or anything). What better way to enjoy childhood than to read a total of 62 novellas on horror.
The author, R. L. Stine, wrote these books with every idea of the word "trolling" in mind. The stories he came up with had odd endings and strange twists and turns. The horror was taking what goes "bump in the night" and making it kid friendly. You would think you're reading a book about sharks and later on it was all about those damn mermaids.
Nonetheless, they were an enjoyable staple for my childhood as the Goosebumps books were my favorite. They were so good, they even made (a rather cheesy) television show about it.
4. The Fads (geared towards kids)
You would be lying to yourself if you grew up in or around the 90's era and could said you didn't own or see anything Lisa Frank themed. Though five year old me never even knew if Lisa Frank was a real person or why she was important, I found myself owning pencil cases and other school supplies with her name and the iconic cheetahs, unicorns, and cats on it.
Lisa Frank was so popular, it was crazy to not have a binder or folder with her trademark. Everything was a weird psychedelic technicolor rainbow coloring and neon tiger cubs pranced about with surfing penguins.
It's almost like today's equivalency of Ed Hardy themed everything. At least I know Ed Hardy is a tattoo artist and his style is in a sailor manner. I'm still not sure what Lisa Frank does or if she is actually a person. I'll randomly research it for my own knowledge later.
Among the Lisa Frank sticker rainbow brigade, slap bracelets, shoes that lit up with each step, and polly pockets were of the norm. Crazy bones cursed our feet just as Legos did, and Bop Its ruled recess as troll dolls with the weird super tall hair littered my worst childhood nightmares alongside Furbies.
TY brand hit the jackpot in the 90's when they came up with the most popular stuffed animal, Beanie Babies. They popped out of no where, hitting the motherload, as they soon become the "thing to have." The hunt was on to get every single one and collectors thought that one day they would be worth millions.
5. The Tamagotchi
The Gigapet was one of my most prized possessions, and I even had the little Pikachu version, which really was just a glorified pedometer to which you gained "points" from steps so you could play slots with Pikachu. The next "high tech" pet you could get your hands on, though, was something we found ourselves having difficulties pronouncing and didn't teach our kids what gambling was at a young age.
The Tamagotchi was the next big thing that trumped giga pets of all kinds, and lived long enough to have multiple versions, connect to other tamagotchis, and I even think the internet at one point. Pretty much it was a glorified virtual pet rock as any other key chain screen pet, but for some reason the added options and the indescribable creatures the tamagotchis were made kids batshit crazy for them.
Parents were sent to toy stores all over to try and find one or the next version with the niftiest pattern. Pretty much, you were the cooliest of the cool kids if you had a tamagotchi, or heaven forbid, a collection of them.
6. 90's Cartoons
I saved this one for last because it literally is the best part about the 90's. Just as the music of the 90's was too fantastic to pick just one iconic band, the same goes for this decades cartoons.
Often referred to as the golden age of cartoons, this decade was packed of so many types of cartoons full of entertainment, various art styles, and content so ridiculous that Catdog was a thing. Even after the turn of the century, myself and many others still find ourselves watching and marveling over these television shows.
The amount of satire, inappropriate content, stabs at politics and the dark and crude humor of 90's cartoons was something new that the decade brought to the plate. Shows such as The Simpson's, Spongebob Square Pants, South Park, and Futurama as still playing today as new episodes are still being made, and some forget that they first originated in the 90's as cartoons pushing the buttons of it's viewers.
The 90's knew what it was doing with cartoons, or rather, didn't know what they were doing with cartoons. The fact that they had the artist freedom with cartoons made it all that more enjoyable. Characters were insane, the content was sometimes vulgar, and the art styles were close from being perfect. This added to the charm of 90's cartoons.
The most enjoyable part was that most of the cartoons from that decade were meant for younger kids, but could also be enjoyed by adults as well. The idiocy and weirdness had multiple levels that could be liked by most age groups, as well as the making of cartoons that was geared just towards adults.
If you are interested in checking out some 90's cartoons, I will provide a small list of the ones I found most iconic at the end of this blog post. You might be pleased to find that you can find some of them on Netflix, though you might have to check the kids section.
Needless to say, I made it through the decade and after without frosted tips and I don't have to use napster nowadays to get my music (thank you iTunes and Spotify). I'll stick to my Pokemon and cartoon as I run on high amounts of 90's kid nostalgia.
List of rather awesome 90's cartoons that I promised (in no particular order):
- Captain Planet
- Angry Beavers
- Swat Kats
- Ren and Stimpy
- Aaahh!!! Real Monsters
- Dragon Ball Z
- Beavis and Butt-Head
- Powerpuff Girls
- Dexter's Laboratory
- Johnny Bravo
- Rocko's Modern Life
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