30 Things All ‘90s Kids Were Obsessed With
Remember when you had to page your friends on their beepers with a special code instead of texting them? Or when you’d run to the store to see if they’d gotten the latest shipment of Beanie Babies? For everyone who grew up in the 1990s, these things were a normal part of life. Read on to find out all the other ways to tell if you’re a ‘90s kid at heart.
There were plenty of toy crazes in the ‘90s but Beanie Babies took the phrase “obsession” to a whole other level. These soft and cuddly playthings inspired Beatles-level riots in customers desperate to get their hands on the latest, rarest and most sought-after designs.
Every Christmas, there’s a toy that you (or your kids) simply must have, and in 1998 that title went to Furby, a freaky, furry robotic toy that was supposed to interact with kids and eventually learn to communicate with them. Never mind that it looked like it should have been starring in its own horror movie franchise, á la Child’s Play.
If you ever shed a tear when your Tamagotchi died because you forgot to feed it, you’re definitely a ‘90s kid. These brightly colored toys from Japanese company Bandai were pretty much the coolest thing you could have in 1997 and with sales in the tens of millions, they foreshadowed an entire generation of digital pets and interactive gaming.
Bath & Body Works
Country Apple. Cucumber Melon. Plumeria. Chances are that if you grew up in the ‘90s, you called one of these classic Bath & Body Works fragrances your signature scent; the mall retailer was one of the biggest brands of the decade and many teenage girls’ first experience with fragrance and body care.
One of the surest signs you’re a child of the ‘90s is if you can recite the entirety of Hocus Pocus from start to finish. This 1993 film about a trio of Salem witches who are accidentally set free on Halloween was considered a flop in the theaters but is now a bona fide cult classic.
Why scented markers? Why not? Back when decorating your textbooks’ brown paper bag covers were a thing, scented markers were an essential component of any well-stocked pencil case. And if you had an older brother or sister in the ‘90s, you probably borrowed their markers until you could get your own. And there was only one brand to get - Mr. Sketch.
Amongst ‘90s kids, the name R.L. Stine carries nearly the same weight as Stephen King does for adults. His iconic Goosebumps series was a staple of school book fairs around the country and almost single-handedly responsible for introducing a generation of kids to the spooky pleasures of a scary story.
Here’s the secret about Pogs, those brightly colored cardboard discs that were everywhere in the mid 1990s: no one knew what to do with them. Did you just collect them? Did you throw them in the air and scramble to catch them, like 52-Pickup? And just why were they called Pogs, anyway?
In the 1990s, buying your first pair of Doc Martens was as much a teenage rite of passage as getting your driver’s license or seeing your first R-rated movie. For decades they’d been a hit in Britain with punks, goths and other fashionable subcultures, but in the 1990s they turned into an essential part of the homegrown grunge movement.
Here’s to all the Friday nights spent browsing through the racks at Blockbuster Video and picking out a movie based on the cover art alone. It seems quaint now, in an age when hundreds of thousands of movies are available at the push of a button, but renting movies from Blockbuster is one of the most iconic ‘90s experiences ever.
No back-to-school shopping trip in the 1990s was complete without a Lisa Frank notebook or folder, or at the very least a lunchbox or stationary set. Her brightly colored, wildly imaginative designs were de riguer amongst elementary and middle school students and came to define the neon-animal aesthetic of the decade.
Legends of the Hidden Temple
Though it was only on the air from 1993 to 1995, Legends of the Hidden Temple looms large in the minds of ‘90s kids as one of the greatest game shows of all times. Who didn’t dream of correctly answering one of the Questions of Knowledge, or successfully completing the labyrinthine final Temple Run?
Baby. Scary. Sporty. Posh. Ginger. They ruled the world in the 1990s as the best-selling female pop group of all time with songs like Wannabe, which was a number one hit in over 30 countries and remains the all-time best-selling single by an all-female group (try saying that three times fast!).
Only ‘90s kids know the joy of spotting Waldo, a bespectacled time-traveler with a penchant for red and white stripes, in the depths of one of English illustrator Martin Handford’s incredibly amusing and detailed pictures — and the pain of failing to find him at all. Such was the simple but addictive power of Handford’s wildly popular Where’s Waldo? Series.
Combining the latest fashion trends and cool celebrities with in-depth features on everything from drug abuse to a day in the life of Miss America, Sassy was the coolest magazine around. And if you didn’t have a subscription, chances are you knew someone who did and would gladly share their copy.
Who knew that a show about toddlers, told from their point of view, would become a cultural touchstone for millions of kids (and some adults too)? But Rugrats, which debuted on Nickelodeon on August 11, 1991, combined great writing with a talented voice cast that brought the adventures of Tommy, Chuckie, Angelica, Phil and Lil to life.
Milky Gel Pens
Like scented markers and Lisa Frank notebooks, milky gel pens were an absolute must have during the ‘90s. They came in tons of different colors and styles to suit whatever mood you were in and looked so cool even if all you were doing was writing a note to your best friend during homeroom.
Butterfly Hair Accessories
If you had to sum up the ‘90s in one animal, butterflies would be pretty close to the top of the list. One of the most iconic accessories in the ‘90s were butterfly hair clips, which could sometimes look like the actual insect but also referred to any style hair clip with a butterfly-style closure.
There are lots of bands you could argue defined the ‘90s - Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Spice Girls, just to name a few - but it’s almost impossible to talk about the music of the era without mentioning ‘NSYNC, whose chart-topping success gave the world a boy band rivalry for the ages and of course, Justin Timberlake.
The ‘90s gave us arguably one of the best pop rivalries in music history with Backstreet Boys versus ‘NSYNC and which side you came down on said just as much about you as it did about the music. But BSB, as they were affectionately called by fans, had a slight edge in being the first group on the block and undoubtedly helped pave the way for Justin and Co.’s later success.
Snapple was more than just a drink in the ‘90s; it was a way of life. There was something so simple about their slogan, “Made from the Best Stuff on Earth,” not to mention the fact that the company enjoyed one of the most popular and iconic ad campaigns of the decade with the introduction of “The Snapple Lady” in 1992.
The ideal school lunch for a ‘90s kid was a turkey and cheese Lunchables followed up a package of Dunkaroos (unless you were really lucky and your mom had bought you the kind of Lunchables that already came with a dessert). Dunkaroos were a magic combination of cookie and frosting that was so simple yet so incredibly satisfying.
Sonic the Hedgehog
Even if you weren’t into video games in the ‘90s, you still probably played Sonic the Hedgehog at a friend’s house - that’s how big the game was. Sony created the anthropomorphic character as their answer to Nintendo’s Mario and quickly found itself in control of an entire media universe centered on the spiky speedster.
“The truth is out there.” If that slightly spooky tagline rings a bell, you definitely scared yourself silly watching The X-Files, which premiered in 1993 and dominated the decade with stories of government conspiracies, alien abductions and a will-they-won’t-they vibe between FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson).
Along with Sassy magazine, this was one of the most important pieces of mail any ‘90s teen could receive. You could spend hours browsing its eclectic mix of tiny polo shirts, plaid golf pants and teeny-tiny chokers until you knew the name and price of every single item and coveted every single one.
Beverly Hills, 90210
When it premiered on Fox in 1990, Beverly Hills, 90210 was such a hit it took critics and executives by surprise - who knew a soap opera aimed at teenagers and young adults could be so popular? But in retrospect, the show was destined to be a pop culture phenomenon, from its catchy theme song to its then-unknown cast that looked like they stepped out of the pages of Tiger Beat.
Before there smartphones or WhatsApp, there were beepers. Or maybe you called them pagers. But whatever you called them, these portable messaging devices were just about the coolest thing you could have as a teenager in the ‘90s, especially when you and your friends discovered the thrilling secret world of beeper codes.
Sure, there is no way any of the characters on Friends could afford those luxurious Manhattan apartments while working as a coffee shop waitress or a struggling actor. And for a show set in one of the most diverse cities on the planet, there wasn’t a whole lot of diversity in the cast.
The 'S' Sign
Learning how to draw this pointy, graffiti-inspired S sign was practically mandatory for anyone who grew up in the ‘90s. No one’s really sure where it came from or how it got started, but it’s almost beside the point - it’s just super fun and easy to draw and looks really cool.