For those of us who lived through the 1990s, it’s pretty sobering to realize that just about everyone under the age of twenty has very little idea what it was all about. In fact, to most young people, the ”˜90s and their flannel shirts are as inscrutable as the ”˜60s and tie-dye clothes or the roaring ”˜20s and their top hats! But you know what? That’s their loss. Because for those of us who were there, we will never forget it ”” especially the popular products we all had. 90s products are those that defined an entire generation. We all dressed the same, talked the same, and had the same stuff. They were light on technology but high on … OK, so they didn’t have much going for them in comparison to what our kids have now. But back then? They were the epitome of cool.
Have you ever watched a movie or TV show from the 90s with your kids? Reminisced about your Walkman or those fly as hell LA Gear sneaks? Did your kid look at you like you had two heads? Welcome to the club, friends. The 90s products we all loved as kids can’t really hold a candle to iPads and robot dogs. But there’s something to be said for simplicity, right? Simplicity and hideous colors. The 90s were an … an interesting time, and if you were anyone back in the day, you had most of what’s on this list. So, fellow ”˜90s folks, enjoy this walk down memory lane, and be sure to count how many of these 90s products you remember!
Some 90s products are still around today, believe it or not. Remember Sun In?
Why on earth anyone would still use this is beyond us. The commercials and ads made it seem so cool back then! Not a natural blonde? No worries! Just spray some of this stuff in your hair, and voila – golden locks. Except no. That’s … not how it worked. Sure, it might lighten already light blonde hair a smidge. But for brunettes or dirty blondes? The “blonde” was more of an orangey, brassy color. Not exactly Heather Locklear, if we remember correctly. But that sure didn’t stop us from saturating our head with the stuff and walking around looking like a beauty school color project gone horribly wrong.
Koosh Balls were amazing, and also so very weird.
What even was the point of a Koosh ball? We had tons of them, in all different sizes. We had ones we tossed around; we had some hooked onto the zippers on our backpacks. It was just a ball covered in rubber bands. Remember how bad it hurt to snap those damn pieces of rubber back onto your fingers and hands? Playing a Koosh ball when it was cold out was a gamble. Nothing hurt worse than getting snapped on your cold-ass cuticle with a rubber band. But regardless of the fact that they didn’t actually DO anything, we loved them. We all had them. Sometimes we catch a whiff of burned rubber, and suddenly we’re 12 years old again, tossing around the ol’ Koosh. What a strange scent memory.
Slap bracelets are another one of those 90s products that are still pretty popular today.
These bad boys would leave bruises on your wrist, but you didn’t care because you looked so fly. Who actually thought snap bracelets were a good idea? Who sat in the meeting with toy makers and ad execs and said, “So, let’s cover an actual piece of metal with some fabric and give it to kids so they can attempt to injure themselves with it?” Was there alcohol being served at this meeting? Was everyone high on cocaine? Despite being not all necessary and/or safe, slap bracelets have persevered. Our kids freaking love them now. But we were the OG’s; we should take pride in that.
Game Boy was the first fully-mobile gaming system. Now we all have something called a CELL PHONE.
A video game system that you could take with you. It was the future, and we were living in it. If your parents let you take it on a school field trip, you were a god amongst mortals. We begged our parents. Pleaded. On our knees, hand clasped at our heart, making promises we never had any intention of keeping. At $90, the Game Boy was expensive by 90s toy standards. But oh how we wanted one. It was like we were preparing for a lifetime of staring at a small screen that controlled our life. If we showed this to our kids now, they would not even be able to comprehend what they were looking at. We’ve come so very far.
Push pencils: writing instrument? Or hidden shank?
A great idea…until you lost one of the pieces and your pencil became useless. Inexplicably, these are also making a comeback. We have actual pens that can write on screens and shit, but yes, let’s bring back the most useless pencil to ever be made. Like, what did people have against just sharpening a damn regular pencil? Why complicate things? The worst part of push pencils was that those little shivs were so sharp, and you just had a pile of them swimming around the bottom of your backpack. Reaching in to grab a book was always an adventure. You never knew if you were going to stab yourself under the fingernail with something that could give you lead poisoning..
Lisa Frank everything. Some 90s products live forever, and Lisa Frank is one of them.
If your school supplies weren’t by Lisa Frank, you were definitely missing out. This is one of those 90s products that we showed our kids, and they were actually super stoked about. You know why? Because they still make Lisa Frank shit. And we’re talking original Lisa Frank, no reboots or updates. The same kitchy, sort of insane prints and graphics and pictures of unicorns and kittens. Lisa Frank, God bless her wherever she is, was destined to make tweens happy. Lisa Frank backpacks. Pencils. Notebooks. TRAPPER KEEPERS! Our entire childhood looked like it went through the blender with a pack of fluorescent markers, and it was all thanks to Lisa Frank
Only people who had a Discman know the pain of having to walk REAL slow lest you make your CD skip.
You couldn’t clear a curb without missing the best part of your song on a Discman. But CDs were all the rage, and we never felt cooler than pulling out a giant plastic case from our backpack and placing an actual CD into this beast of a music player. This is one area where we are totally down with technological advancements. We don’t even need a dedicated music player anymore, we all have phones. If our kids saw an actual CD in the wild, they’d probably think it was some kind of weapon. But man, nothing compared to flipping through the CD singles (SINGLES!) at your local Record Alley on a Saturday mall trip, right?
Power beads: because we truly believed a beaded bracelet could bring us harmony.
These beaded bracelets stood for different things like harmony, wisdom, and strength. But they were also so pretty. Slip on your power bead bracelet and feel the power of the beads course through your body! Never mind that we were literally 12 and had absolutely no idea what any of the different beads or stones represented. If we believed a mood ring could accurately guess our mood, then obviously we believed that a string of jade or lapis or whatever would bring us calmness and serenity. And we were calmer! Mostly because carrying the weight of 10 power bead bracelets on one arm really slowed you down.
Some ’90s products, like stirrup pants, were neither fashion nor function.
Are they making a comeback? Well, of course, they are! Let’s find the dumbest, most uncomfortable piece of clothing of the 90s and bring it back. Makes complete sense! The thing about stirrup pants is that you had to be like the perfect height to be able to comfortably wear them. If you weren’t tall enough, they bunched up in very unfortunate places. BUT if you were too tall? Then they slid down your ass or sagged in the crotch area from being pulled down too low. Dumbest pants, we swear. And what purpose do they even serve? So you can wear boots without your pants bunching up at the ankle? We all wore them with flats and sandals, so we call shenanigans on that.
Tamagotchis were one of THEE hottest 90s products, and they’re back in a big way.
Remember your digital pet? Of course, you do! You’re probably still harboring some feelings of guilt over letting it die when you accidentally left it at home when your family went on vacation. Tamagotchi was all the rage in the 90s, and if you didn’t have one, you definitely wanted one. They were dumb, though. Let’s be honest. What an annoying toy to give a child. “Here you go, Jane! Now, remember, if you don’t devote every waking hour to caring for your fake pet, it will die a horrible death, and it will haunt you forever”. Tamagotchi is back now; you can even buy them at Target. But we don’t need one; we have actual humans to keep alive now.
A pager was how you stayed “connected” to your friends.
If by “connected” you mean that someone would page you from a random pay phone and you had exactly 2 minutes to find a quarter and another pay phone to call the number back and just hoped it would be your friend on the other line and not some rando. Pagers were the first text messages, really. We could send messages in code, where you had to flip your pager upside down to read it. LOL, what the actual hell. How did anyone anywhere actually communicate? We texted our kid 143, and they asked if there was something wrong with their autocorrect.
Furby: for when you wanted a toy you were also sort of afraid of.
It sounds impossible, but Furbies were even creepier in the 90s than they are today. Whyyyyyyyy were these a thing in the 90s? AND WHY ARE THEY A THING AGAIN NOW? Furbies were the worst. Sounded good in theory, but good god was these things creepy. Just randomly spouting gibberish, blinking their creepy robot eyes, making demands. But were they one of the hot 90s products? They sure the hell were. Furbies created one of the first massive toy riots during the holidays in the 90s. EVERYBODY wanted one, and people lost their damn minds to get their hands on one.
Your kids probably wouldn’t even believe that you could make calls on a Swatch phone.
Dual-handset Swatch phones were the best way to listen in on your friend’s conversation with your crush. See, some of us just had regular phones. But oh how we wanted a Swatch phone. Two handsets to listen to the call on? It was the original party line! So many tweens and teens used this phone to call crushes, try to get “friends” to talk smack about another friend or stay on the line for hours trying to get through to the radio station to make a request. Bonus points if you had a Swatch phone that matched your Swatch watch. It was every kid’s dream in the 90s and a sign of major coolness.
Floppy disks are one of those 90s products that are, thankfully, obsolete.
The only way to save your work in the 90s. You felt especially cool if your parents let you get multi-colored floppy discs. Kids these days have NO idea who good they have it, what with their clouds and tiny USB drives and whatnot. Back in the day, we had to haul around actual disks. Pop one of these bad boys into the massive desktop computer and listen to it click and whir while it retrieved your report (complete with clip art images!). Our kids would die if they had to use these now, you know they would. Do they even make computers that can read them now? No, they don’t.
LA Gear shoes were the shoes that every kid begged for.
Sing it with me! “It’s LA Gear; the fun is here!” Did you guys know that LA Gear is still a thing? As in, they still make them? CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE? We are suddenly struck with the strongest desire to score us some sneaks with the waves on the side. We had two pairs: one pink, black, and white with the waves, and the Michael Jackson pair. You remember those? They had actual gems embedded in the leather and sheer laces. Holy shit, what a disaster. 90s products might have been cool at the time, but looking back, we have SERIOUS issues with style.
Multicolor pens, for when you couldn’t decide if you wanted one color or 15.
They were big, bulky, and almost impossible to write with, but if you didn’t have a multicolor pen in your school supplies, you were no one. The thing about these pens is that they were almost impossible to use. Half the colors didn’t work, and you needed some kind of tiny elf finger to be able to push them down. And you had to release one color before choosing another, and don’t even get us started on pinching your skin in the springs! But whatever, totally worth it to be able to send love notes to your crush using a different color for every single letter. Took an hour to write, but the result was cute.
A magic eye poster, because who needs to be able to see?
Every classroom had these up on the walls. We couldn’t see the pictures then, and we can’t see the damn pictures now. You would strain and strain your eyeballs until your vision got blurry, and then finally claim you saw something because you didn’t want to be the only sucker in the room who didn’t see anything! We’re convinced that no one actually saw anything in these ridiculous posters. Teachers put them up on the walls to keep kids quiet and fairly occupied during class. An entire generation of kids wear glasses now because of these posters. Good times, indeed.
Bop It was one of those 90s products that was super fun for like, five minutes.
Bop it! Twist it! Pull it! It was just a toy you hit over and over again. But oh, what fun it was! We were all bopping and twisting and pulling until our hands were bruised from playing with the Bop It. This is one of those 90s products they decided to reboot, although the current version is fancy AF and not the bare-bones Bop-It we had as kids. While there was really no purpose to the Bop It, it certainly kept us occupied for chunks of time. Just mindlessly beating a toy while we sat on the couch watching cartoons. The 90s were a strange time, man.
Pogs, because nothing says “FUN!” like little pieces of cardboard.
What even WERE Pogs? Like, why were they a thing? Who decided that giving kids little cardboard discs was a good idea? If we remember correctly, you were supposed to … flip them? With Slammers? Which were the pocket-sized equivalent of a man hold cover. We all collected Pogs, we traded Pogs, we had Pogs battles to try to win other kids’ Pogs. And for why? What was the end game here? Be the one with the most pieces of cardboard? Have an entire shelf of those tubes filled with Pogs? Such a weird toy. We probably still have all our Pogs somewhere, all moldy and stuff.
Car connecting pack CD to cassette, because cars only played cassettes!
You’d plug this into your mom’s minivan to blast your Nirvana CD on the way to school. You had your Discman (gently, no fast walking!). Walkman’s weren’t cool anymore, because CDs were the wave of the future! But cars needed to do some catching up. How could you listen to your extensive CD collection in the station wagon without a car connecting pack?! Lord, everything was so complicated back then. Now, cars just play music pulled from the air or space or whatever. Do cars even have CD players anymore? We have no idea. Our car talks to us now, so we just do what it says.
Disposable cameras were one of those 90s products that just keeps on giving!
Your parents would NEVER let you borrow their expensive film camera, so a disposable was the only way to get those pictures with your friends that you’d tape up in your locker. My kids can’t believe we used to have to wait days (or sometimes weeks) to see what our pictures looked like. Film is sort of a lost art form now, but it’s so much fun to find one of these bad boys in storage and have it developed! You never know what you’re going to find. Class field trip? Slumber party? School dance? The possibilities are endless because we literally carried one of these dinosaurs around with us everywhere we went.
Inflatable furniture, because sticking to your chair as it slowly deflated was #goals.
These are actually a thing again if you can believe that. While they were cool back in the day, they lacked in function. You couldn’t sit on them in jeans, because the little rivets would pop the plastic. You couldn’t have one around pets. Couldn’t sit on it in shorts, lest you wanted to rip the skin off the back of your thighs when you got up. They deflated constantly, they made a ridiculous amount of noise, and they were just generally bad. So sure, let’s bring them back! It’s not a childhood without sweating into your deflating chair and sliding off onto the floor.
So many 90s products are coming back. Hair mascara was huge then, and it’s huge now.
If your mom wouldn’t let you dye your hair, colored hair mascara was the way to go. Just slather some of this stuff on your hair in very fashionable large streaks, and you had crispy, colored highlights! You could do a bunch of colors, or just rock your signature fuchsia or bright blue. Obviously, very understated. But it was a great option for expressing your hair creativity without actually damaging your hair (looking at you, Sun-In and Glintz). Plenty of people still use hair mascara now, and we’ve totally given our own kids colored streaks with it. Just remember not to sleep on a white pillowcase.
Who knew math could be so fun?! We had one of these in pretty much every classroom, and one at home. And we’d spend hours learning multiplication tables, which sounds so incredibly nerdy now. But this thing was legit! The best was having times tables contests to see who could get them all right in the shortest amount of time. You can still buy them now (Amazon has one from Lakeshore Learning), and we just might buy one for our kids! It’s low-tech but so effective, and still looks like a lot of fun. Math can be exciting, who knew?!
Hair Scrunchies were the ultimate in 90s products fashion.
No 90s list is complete without a hair scrunchy. There was no better accessory for your outfit than a matching hair scrunchy (in a side ponytail, natch). The best part of wearing scrunchies was how high and big they made your ponytail. Even girls with thin hair could rock some volume when they layered three or four scrunchies on their pony! We all had an insane amount of them to coordinate with everything in our closet. And once again, scrunchies are back in a big way. We aren’t going to be rocking them anytime soon, but it does make us smile to see the youths wearing them now.